Behavior of geogrid-reinforced ballast under various levels of fouling
This paper presents a study of how the interface between ballast and geogrid copes with fouling by coal fines. The stress-displacement behavior of fresh and fouled ballast, and geogrid reinforced ballast was investigated through a series of large-scale direct shear tests where the levels of fouling ranged from 0% to 95% Void Contamination Index (VCI), at relatively low normal stresses varying from 15 kPa to 75 kPa. The results indicated that geogrid increases the shear strength and apparent angle of shearing resistance, while only slightly reducing the vertical displacement of the composite geogrid-ballast system. However, when ballast was fouled by coal fines, the benefits of geogrid reinforcement decreased in proportion to the increasing level of fouling. A conceptual normalized shear strength model was proposed to predict this decrease in peak shear stress and peak angle of shearing resistance caused by coal fines at a given normal stress.