# Period #16: Soil Compressibility and Consolidation (II)

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1 Period #16: Soil Compressibility and Consolidation (II) A. Review and Motivation (1) Review: In most soils, changes in total volume are associated with reductions in void volume. The volume change of the soil grains is negligible. Changes in soil volume are produced by effective stresses. When loads are applied to soils, the increased compressive stresses can initially be taken up by the pore fluid. With time, though, the pore fluid pressure dissipates, and the increased compressive stresses are transferred to the soil skeleton. (2) Motivation: As this gradually occurs, the soil will compress. The important question that remains to be answered, is how long can this take? To better understand this, a common engineering consolidation model is presented here. 1

2 B. Rate of Consolidation in One Dimension To begin, consider a very small element of soil being subjected to one dimensional consolidation in the z direction. v +[ (v z z )/ z] z = exit discharge velocity Saturated Soil z A = ( x)( y) V = ( x)( y)( z) = ( A)( z) x v z y = entry discharge velocity Rate of fluid mass outflow = ρ w A {v +[ (v z z )/ z] z} Rate of fluid mass inflow = ρ w A v z Net rate of fluid mass outflow = outflow inflow = ρ w A [ (v z )/ z] z = ρ w V (v z )/ z 2

3 fluid mass conservation for this element: net rate of fluid mass outflow = net rate of internal fluid mass decrease ρ w V (v z )/ z = {M w }/ t = {ρ w e V s }/ t = ρ w V s {e}/ t Aside: Note these assumptions: a) fluid is incompressible (i.e. (ρ w )/ t = 0); and b) soil grains are also incompressible (i.e. ( V s )/ t = 0). ρ w V (v z )/ z = ρ w V s {e}/ t, (v z )/ z = ( V s / V ) {e}/ t (v z )/ z= (1+e 0 ) 1 {e}/ t statement of fluid mass conservation. For 1 D flow in the z direction, Darcy s Law gives v z = k z h/ z, where: h = h z + p w /γ w k z = permeability in the z direction 3

4 fluid mass conservation can be re written as: ( k z h/ z)/ z = (1+e 0 ) 1 e/ t k z 2 h/ z 2 = (1+e 0 ) 1 e/ t Note the assumption that k z is constant in the z direction.: This expression needs to be re written in terms of pore pressure. h = h z + (p w /γ w ) = h z + (p hyd + u) /γ w Note: In the above expression, the fluid pressure p w has been expressed as p w = p hyd + u, where: p hyd is the equilibrium hydrostatic pore pressure in the soil before a load was applied, and u is the excessore pore pressure in the soil due to the application of a load. Since both h z and p hyd are linear functions of z, 2 h/ z 2 = (1/γ w ) 2 u/ z 2. ( k z /γ w ) 2 u/ z 2 = (1+e 0 ) 1 e/ t The remaining task is to relate the void ratio e to excess pore pressure u. 4

5 This is done in two steps: a) Note that when a constant and uniform load is applied to a soil deposit and consolidation is occuring, the vertical stress in the soil is constant. 0 = (σ v )/ t = (σ v )/ t + (p w )/ t Thus, (σ v )/ t = (p w )/ t = u/ t That is, an increase in vertical effective stress σ v is achieved by a reduction of excess pore pressure u. b) Now to relate σ v to the void ratio e, the e vs. σ v behavior of the soil is used. From the figure shown, by linearizing the soil behavior over a given range of σ v and e: e = a v σ v units of L From the preceding relation between σ v and u, 2 /F e it follows that: e = a v u Expressing this in rate form, e/ t = a v u/ t. a v is a soil compressibility with a v = e/ σ v σ v 5

6 Putting it all together, the final statement of fluid mass conservation is: ( k z /γ w ) 2 u/ z 2 = [ a v /(1+e 0 )] u/ t or c v 2 u/ z 2 = u/ t : One dimensional consolidation equation where c v = k z (1+e 0 ) /(a v γ w ) : consolidation coefficient (units are L 2 /T) C. Solutions of the Consolidation Equation z=0 2H z=2h permeable soil Saturated Soil (relatively impermeable) permeable soil q Initial conditions for excess pore pressure in the low permeability soil layer: u = u 0 = q for z (0,2H) at t=0 Boundary conditions for excess pore pressure in the low permeability soil layer: u = 0 at z = 0 for t [0, ) u = 0 at z = 2H for t [0, ) 6

7 The solution to the 1 D consolidation equation for these boundary conditions and initial conditions is: u(z,t) = Σ {(2u 0 /M) sin(mz/h)}exp{ M 2 T v } m=0 where: M =(π/2)(2m+1) and T v = c v t /H 2 : non dimensional time factor H : maximum drainage distance in the soil layer z=0 t=0 2H "Excess" pore pressure u(z,t) z=2h 0 u 0 t 7

8 The next task is to relate the excess pore pressure u(z,t) to the actual compression of the soil layer. At a given time t, and a given location z in the soil layer, define the local degree of consolidation as: U z (z,t) = [u 0 u(z,t) ] / u 0 = 1 [u(z,t) / u 0 ] Observations: when u(z,t) = u 0, then U z (z,t) = 0, which means that the soil at (z,t) has not yet begun to consolidate; and when u(z,t) = 0, then U z (z,t) = 1, which means that the soil at (z,t) has fully consolidated. Now define the average degree of consolidation U for the whole soil layer at a given time t as: 2H 2H U(t) = (1/2H) U z (z,t) dz = (1/2H) [1 u(z,t)/u 0 ] dz 0 0 = 1 Σ (2/M2 ) exp{ M 2 T v } U vs. T v is plotted in Figure and tabulated m=0 in Table 10.5 of the textbook. 8

9 D. Applications Example 16.1: A 3m thick double drained layer of saturated clay soil was subjected to a surcharge loading and achieved 90% primary consolidation in 75 days. Find the coefficient of consolidation c v. Solution: The dimensionless time factor for soils is: T v = (c v t) /H 2. T 90 = (c v t 90 ) /H 2 = [c v * 75days]/(1.5m)2 From the U vs. T v plot on page 288 of the text, T 90 = 0.85 Solving for c v gives, c v = m 2 /day = 2.95E 7m 2 /sec. 9

10 Example 16.2: Consider the soil profile shown. The phreatic surface now coincides with the ground surface, but a long time ago it used to be at a depth of 5 feet below the found surface. Asume that a uniform pressure of 400 psf is to be applied over a large area. a) Use the location of the phreatic surface a long time ago to compute the pre consolidation vertical effective stress in the clay layer; b) Estimate the ultimate settlement of the ground surface due only to primary consolidation of the clay layer; and c) How long will it take to achieve 50% and 90% consolidation of the clay layer under the imposed loading? Coarse, Dense Sand; γ dry =110pcf; γ sat =130pcf; Clay Soil; γ sat =115pcf; e 0 = 1.10 C c = 0.60 C s = 0.05 c v = 0.05ft 2 /day 5ft 20ft Bedrock 10

11 Solution: a) First, compute the vertical effective stress at the center of the clay layer before the uniform pressure is applied. (σ v ) 0 = 5 *( )pcf + 10 *( )pcf = 864 psf A long time ago, the phreatic surface was at the clay sand interface. At that time, the vertical effective stress was: (σ v ) = 5 *(110)pcf + 10 *( )pcf = 1076 psf Since the vertical effective stress a long time ago was greater than what the current vertical effective stress is, the clay soil is over consolidated, and the pre consolidation stress (σ v ) c = 1076psf. b) Estimate the ultimate settlement due to application of the load: H = H 0 e/(1+e 0 ) = (20ft/2.1)*[ C s log[(σ v ) c /(σ v ) 0 ] C c log[(σ v ) f /(σ v ) c ] ] = 9.524ft * [ 0.05 log(1076/864) 0.6 log(1264/1076)] = 9.524ft * [ ] H = ft = 5.34in = ultimate settlement. 11

12 c) Solution: The dimensionless time factor for soils is: T v = (c v t) /H 2. E. Summary: From the plot of U vs. T v on page 292 of the text: T 50 = 0.18 and T 90 = 0.85 Thus, t 50 = (T 50 H 2 )/c v = 0.18 * (20ft) 2 / (0.05ft 2 /day) = 1440 days (or about 4 years!) In a similar way, t 90 = (T 90 H 2 )/c v = 0.85 * (20ft) 2 / (0.05ft 2 /day) = 6800 days (or about 18.6 years!) From this second example, we see that the times over which consolidation actually occurs can be over many years and even decades. The important factors that determine how long it will take for consolidation settlements to occur are: 1) the consolidation coefficient c v which is proportional to a soil s permeability k. The smaller c v ( and the smaller k) the longer it will take for a soil to consolidate. 2) the maximum drainage distance H. From the above examples, note that consolidation times are proportional to H 2. 12

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