Physical and numerical modelling of the inherent variability of shear strength in soil mechanics

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Journal Article
Geomechanics and Engineering, 2019, 17, (1), pp. 31-45
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© 2019 Techno-Press, Ltd. In this study the spatial variability of soils is substantiated physically and numerically by using random field theory. Heterogeneous samples are fabricated by combining nine homogeneous soil clusters that are assumed to be elements of an adopted random field. Homogeneous soils are prepared by mixing different percentages of kaolin and bentonite at water contents equivalent to their respective liquid limits. Comprehensive characteristic laboratory tests were carried out before embarking on direct shear experiments to deduce the basic correlations and properties of nine homogeneous soil clusters that serve to reconstitute the heterogeneous samples. The tests consist of Atterberg limits, and Oedometric and unconfined compression tests. The undrained shear strength of nine soil clusters were measured by the unconfined compression test data, and then correlations were made between the water content and the strength and stiffness of soil samples with different consistency limits. The direct shear strength of heterogeneous samples of different stochastic properties was then evaluated by physical and numerical modelling using FISH code programming in finite difference software of FLAC 3D . The results of the experimental and stochastic numerical analyses were then compared. The deviation of numerical simulations from direct shear load-displacement profiles taken from different sources were discussed, potential sources of error was introduced and elaborated. This study was primarily to explain the mathematical and physical procedures of sample preparation in stochastic soil mechanics. It can be extended to different problems and applications in geotechnical engineering discipline to take in to account the variability of strength and deformation parameters.
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