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Effect of soil replacement option on surface deflections for expansive clay profiles

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Urbanization and infrastructure development often brings dramatic changes in the surface and groundwater regimes. These changes in moisture content may be particularly problematic when subsurface soils are moisture sensitive such

Urbanization and infrastructure development often brings dramatic changes in the surface and groundwater regimes. These changes in moisture content may be particularly problematic when subsurface soils are moisture sensitive such as expansive soils. Residential foundations such as slab-on ground may be built on unsaturated expansive soils and therefore have to resist the deformations associated with change in moisture content (matric suction) in the soil. The problem is more pronounced in arid and semi arid regions with drying periods followed by wet season resulting in large changes in soil suction. Moisture content change causes volume change in expansive soil which causes serious damage to the structures. In order to mitigate these ill effects various mitigation are adopted. The most commonly adopted method in the US is the removal and replacement of upper soils in the profile. The remove and replace method, although heavily used, is not well understood with regard to its impact on the depth of soil wetting or near-surface differential soil movements. In this study the effectiveness of the remove and replace method is studied. A parametric study is done with various removal and replacement materials used and analyzed to obtain the optimal replacement depths and best material. The depth of wetting and heave caused in expansive soil profile under climatic conditions and common irrigation scenarios are studied for arid regions. Soil suction changes and associated soil deformations are analyzed using finite element codes for unsaturated flow and stress/deformation, SVFlux and SVSolid, respectively. The effectiveness and fundamental mechanisms at play in mitigation of expansive soils for remove and replace methods are studied, and include (1) its role in reducing the depth and degree of wetting, and (2) its effect in reducing the overall heave potential, and (3) the effectiveness of this method in pushing the seat of movement deeper within the soil profile to reduce differential soil surface movements. Various non-expansive replacement layers and different surface flux boundary conditions are analyzed, and the concept of optimal depth and soil is introduced. General observations are made concerning the efficacy of remove and replace as a mitigation method.

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  • 2013

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Volume change consideration in determining appropriate unsaturated soil properties for geotechnical applications

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Unsaturated soil mechanics is becoming a part of geotechnical engineering practice, particularly in applications to moisture sensitive soils such as expansive and collapsible soils and in geoenvironmental applications. The soil

Unsaturated soil mechanics is becoming a part of geotechnical engineering practice, particularly in applications to moisture sensitive soils such as expansive and collapsible soils and in geoenvironmental applications. The soil water characteristic curve, which describes the amount of water in a soil versus soil suction, is perhaps the most important soil property function for application of unsaturated soil mechanics. The soil water characteristic curve has been used extensively for estimating unsaturated soil properties, and a number of fitting equations for development of soil water characteristic curves from laboratory data have been proposed by researchers. Although not always mentioned, the underlying assumption of soil water characteristic curve fitting equations is that the soil is sufficiently stiff so that there is no change in total volume of the soil while measuring the soil water characteristic curve in the laboratory, and researchers rarely take volume change of soils into account when generating or using the soil water characteristic curve. Further, there has been little attention to the applied net normal stress during laboratory soil water characteristic curve measurement, and often zero to only token net normal stress is applied. The applied net normal stress also affects the volume change of the specimen during soil suction change. When a soil changes volume in response to suction change, failure to consider the volume change of the soil leads to errors in the estimated air-entry value and the slope of the soil water characteristic curve between the air-entry value and the residual moisture state. Inaccuracies in the soil water characteristic curve may lead to inaccuracies in estimated soil property functions such as unsaturated hydraulic conductivity. A number of researchers have recently recognized the importance of considering soil volume change in soil water characteristic curves. The study of correct methods of soil water characteristic curve measurement and determination considering soil volume change, and impacts on the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity function was of the primary focus of this study. Emphasis was placed upon study of the effect of volume change consideration on soil water characteristic curves, for expansive clays and other high volume change soils. The research involved extensive literature review and laboratory soil water characteristic curve testing on expansive soils. The effect of the initial state of the specimen (i.e. slurry versus compacted) on soil water characteristic curves, with regard to volume change effects, and effect of net normal stress on volume change for determination of these curves, was studied for expansive clays. Hysteresis effects were included in laboratory measurements of soil water characteristic curves as both wetting and drying paths were used. Impacts of soil water characteristic curve volume change considerations on fluid flow computations and associated suction-change induced soil deformations were studied through numerical simulations. The study includes both coupled and uncoupled flow and stress-deformation analyses, demonstrating that the impact of volume change consideration on the soil water characteristic curve and the estimated unsaturated hydraulic conductivity function can be quite substantial for high volume change soils.

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  • 2013

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Temperature effect on unsaturated hydraulic properties of two fine-grained soils and its influence on moisture movement under an airfield test facility

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The influence of temperature on soil engineering properties is a major concern in the design of engineering systems such as radioactive waste disposal barriers, ground source heat pump systems and

The influence of temperature on soil engineering properties is a major concern in the design of engineering systems such as radioactive waste disposal barriers, ground source heat pump systems and pavement structures. In particular, moisture redistribution under pavement systems might lead to changes in unbound material stiffness that will affect pavement performance. Accurate measurement of thermal effects on unsaturated soil hydraulic properties may lead to reduction in design and construction costs. This thesis presents preliminary results of an experimental study aimed at determining the effect of temperature on the soil water characteristic curve (SWCC) and the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity function (kunsat). Pressure plate devices with volume change control were used to determine the SWCC and the instantaneous profile method was used to obtain the kunsat function. These properties were measured on two fine-grained materials subjected to controlled temperatures of 5oC, 25oC and 40oC. The results were used to perform a sensitivity analysis of the effect of temperature changes on the prediction of moisture movement under a covered area. In addition, two more simulations were performed where changes in hydraulic properties were done in a stepwise fashion. The findings were compared to field measured water content data obtained on the subgrade material of the FAA William Hughes test facility located in Atlantic City. Results indicated that temperature affects the unsaturated hydraulic properties of the two soils used in the study. For the DuPont soil, a soil with high plasticity, it was found that the water retention was higher at low temperatures for suction levels lower than about 10,000 kPa; while the kunsat functions at the three temperatures were not significantly different. For the County soil, a material with medium plasticity, it was found that it holds around 10% more degree of saturation at 5°C than that at 40°C for suction levels higher than about 1,000 kPa; while the hydraulic conductivity at 40°C was at least one order of magnitude higher than that at 5°C, for suction levels higher than 1,000 kPa. These properties were used to perform two types of numerical analyses: a sensitivity analysis and stepwise analysis. Absolute differences between predicted and field measured data were considered to be acceptable, ranging from 4.5% to 9% for all simulations. Overall results show an improvement in predictions when non-isothermal conditions were used over the predictions obtained with isothermal conditions.

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  • 2015