Analytical solution for radial consolidation considering soil structure characteristics
A system of surcharge load combined with vertical drains to speed up consolidation of soft soil by reducing the drainage path is one of the most efficient and economical ground improvement techniques. In the field, conventional theories including smear zone have been commonly employed to predict the radial consolidation behaviour induced by vertical drains in soft clay. One of the key parameters in conventional analysis is the use of mean coefficient of volume compressibility and soil permeability, which are often assumed to be constant. The effect of drain installation on the soil compressibility of the in situ clay structure is often ignored. Laboratory testing has shown that the soil compressibility and permeability can vary nonlinearly over a considerable range of applied surcharge pressure, and both these properties can be affected during the drain installation. This study presents a mathematical model of radial consolidation via vertical drains incorporating the variations of soil compressibility and permeability as well as highlighting the effects of drain installation on those parameters. The main differences between the proposed and conventional models are elucidated, in terms of stress history and preloading (surcharge) pressure. The effects of preconsolidation pressure and the magnitude of applied preloading are examined through the dissipation of average excess pore pressure and associated settlement. Supported by experimental observations, the proposed theory is validated with field data of a selected case study in the town of Ballina, New South Wales, Australia.