Publication Details

This article was originally published as: Liyanapathirana, DS, Carter, JP & Airey, DW, Numerical Modeling of Nonhomogeneous Behavior of Structured Soils during Triaxial Tests, International Journal of Geomechanics, 2005, 5, 10-23. Copyright American Society of Civil Engineers. Original journal available here.


The nonhomogeneous behavior of structured soils during triaxial tests has been studied using a finite element model based on the Structured Cam Clay constitutive model with Biot-type consolidation. The effect of inhomogeneities caused by the end restraint is studied by simulating drained triaxial tests for samples with a height to diameter ratio of 2. It was discovered that with the increase in degree of soil structure with respect to the same soil at the reconstituted state, the inhomogeineities caused by the end restraint will increase. By loading the sample at different strain rates and assuming different hydraulic boundary conditions, inhomogeneities caused by partial drainage were investigated. It was found that if drainage is allowed from all faces of the specimen, fully drained tests can be carried out at strain rates about ten times higher than those required when the drainage is allowed only in the vertical direction at the top and bottom of the specimen, confirming the findings of previous studies. Both end restraint and partial drainage can cause bulging of the triaxial specimen around mid-height. Inhomogeneities due to partial drainage influence the stress–strain behavior during destructuring, a characteristic feature of a structured soil. With an increase in the strain rate, the change in voids ratio during destructuration reduces, but, in contrast, the mean effective stress at which destructuration commences was found to increase. It is shown that the stress–strain behavior of the soil calculated for a triaxial specimen with inhomogeneities, based on global measurements of the triaxial response, does not represent the true constitutive behavior of the soil inside the test specimen. For most soils analyzed, the deviatoric stress based on the global measurements is about 25% less than that for the soil inside the test specimen, when the applied axial strain is about 30%. Therefore it can be concluded that the conventional global measurements of the sample response may not accurately reflect the true stress–strain behavior of a structured soil. This finding has major implications for the interpretation of laboratory triaxial tests on structured soils.

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