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# Shear Strength

Soil Mechanics

## William J. Likos, Ph.D.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Applications
1) Slope Stability

2) Bearing Capacity

(USC)

3) Retaining Walls

Others…
• Tunnel Linings
• Roadway Base (bp0.blogger.com)

• Excavations
Consider Bearing Capacity
P s’v

t
uw
s’h

• Is there a plane within the soil mass where the induced shear
stresses exceed the shear strength of the soil (c’, f’) ?

## • How does shear strength depend on effective stress?

Shear Strength
Dilation
s’v
Particles must move to create
shear plane
t Results in positive (increase) in
volume
Failure plane
Total resistance depends on
• occurs at particle contacts
confining pressure
• particles themselves generally Angular particles result in more
t do not fail (except @ high s’) dilation (so more shear
resistance.

## Sources of shear resistance:

1) Dilation & frictional resistance:
• Dependent on effective stress (s’)
• Captured with material property f’
2) Cohesive resistance:
• Independent of stress
• Captured with material property c’
• Important for clays (“cohesive soils”)
Mohr-Coulomb Failure Criterion
s’v

## shear frictional component

t
strength (dependent on s’, the effective
stress on the shear surface)

cohesive component

## c’ = effective cohesion intercept (units of stress – kPa, psf, psi, etc.))

f’ = effective angle of internal friction (degrees)
Mohr-Coulomb Failure Criterion

## t f  c's ' tan f '

c’ = effective cohesion intercept
f’ = effective friction angle
s’ = effective stress on failure plane

## This is a straight line in s’-t space

t
failure
M-C Failure Envelope

no failure
s’1

f’ Mohr’s Circle
s’
s’3
c’
t
s’3 s’1 s’
Factors Affecting f’
1) Mineralogy (e.g., quartz vs. mica)
2) Grain shape (e.g., angular vs. rounded)
3) Grain size distribution (e.g., well-graded vs. poorly-graded)
4) Void ratio, density, porosity (e.g., compacted vs. loose)
5) Organic material (very weak)

(mica)

(Coduto, 1999)
(Bardet, 1997)
Cohesion
Factors affecting c’:
1) Cementation (e.g., CaCO3)
2) Electrostatic attraction – van der Waals forces
appreciable for small, high-surface area materials
3) Negative pore pressure (unsaturated soils)
4) Interlocking

## Caliche layer exposed in

southern Kansas (KGS)
(Bardet, 1997)
Mohr-Coulomb Failure Criterion

## t f  c's ' tan f '

c’ = effective cohesion intercept
f’ = effective friction angle
s’ = effective stress on failure plane

## This is a straight line in s’-t space

t
failure
M-C Failure Envelope

no failure
s’1

f’ Mohr’s Circle
s’
s’3
c’
t
s’3 s’1 s’
Consider a triaxial shear test:

## s’1 1) First apply isotropic compression (s1’ = s3’)

2) Hold s3’ constant and increase s1’ until failure
s’f

s’3
tf
a
M-C Failure Envelope
t t f  c's ' tan f '
Stress on failure plane
(s’f, tf)

f’

c’
2a
s’
s’3 s’1f

## So, the higher c’ and f’, the stronger the soil

Consider stress-strain response for loose sand and dense sand

## s’1 Loose Sand (Dr = 38%) Dense Sand (Dr = 100%)

ea
s’3

ev

Observations:
1) Loose sand: ductile
2) Dense sand: brittle compression
3) Low s3: brittle dilation
4) High s3: ductile
5) Loose: compressive
compression
6) Dense: dilative
7) Dense: low failure ea
dilation
8) Same strength and
small volume change
at “critical state”
(Bardet, 1997)
How do we define failure?
Loose

Peak strength
(Use to find f’p)

ea
Peak strength Dense
(Use to find f’p)

Residual strength
(Use to find f’res)

## f’p> f’res Want to use strength

(see table 4) appropriate for problem! ea
Consider a laboratory “direct shear” (DS) test on loose sand

failure plane

(Coduto, 1999)

## sC’ > sB’ > sA’

tC tC Test C
Test C (sC’ = P/A)
Shear Stress (t = V/A)

f’
Test B
tB Shear Stress (t ) tB Construct M-C
Test B (sB’ = P/A) failure envelope
Test A to determine
tA tA f’ and c’
Test A(sA’ = P/A)

## Shear Displacement Effective Normal Stress, s’

(Coduto, 1999)
Sensitivity – Rissa Landslide (Norway)
• Occurred 1978
• ~0.13 square miles
• 7-8 million cubic yards
• 45 minutes
• 1 fatality

(Sukumaran)
Sensitivity, St
Sensitive or “Quick” clay:
• Significant loss of strength
when disturbed (remolded)
• Typically marine clay/silt that
has been uplifted and leached
with fresh water (Scandinavia).
• Leads to an unstable flocculated
structure
Edge-face particle
orientation

Sundisturbed
St 
S remolded
Shear Strength Measurement

Laboratory Methods:

## • Unconfined Compression Test (UCT)

• Direct Shear Test (DS)
• Ring Shear Test (residual strength)

## • Triaxial Compression Tests

• Unconsolidated-Undrained (UU) (aka Q-test)
• Consolidated-Undrained (CU) (aka R-Test)
• Consolidated-Undrained with Pore Pressure Meas. (aka CU-bar test)
• Consolidated-Drained (CD) (aka S-Test)
•Note: First letter (U or C) describes consolidation phase, second
letter (U or D) describes shear phase
Shear Strength Measurement

## • Vane Shear Test

• Pocket Penetrometer Undrained shear strength (su)
• Pocket Torvane

## • Standard Penetration Test (SPT)

Empirical correlation to f’
• Cone Penetration Test (CPT)
Unconfined Compression Test
s1 Specimen tends to bulge
due to end constraint.
A0
A0
s 3= 0 Af 
Af 1 e f
s = P/A Pf
ea qu  s 1 f 
Af
Failure Trimmed Cylindrical s1 f
plane Specimen (clay/silt) su 
t 2
su = undrained shear strength
qu = unconfined compressive strength

su

s3 = 0 qu  s1f s
(Bardet)
Triaxial Compression Test

s1

s3
u

## Control of s3, s1, and u

(effective stress)
Unconsolidated-Undrained (UU) Test (Q-Test)
• Used for undrained shear strength (su) of fine-grained soils
• Minimizing sample disturbance is critical
• Relatively inexpensive because test is fast (~2 hours)
• Better test than UCT (unconfined compression) because we can simulate field stress

## Step 2: Set up in triaxial cell

Unconsolidated-Undrained (UU) Test (Q-Test)
Step 3: Apply isotropic confining stress (s3 = s1)
• no drainage allowed (so no consolidation occurs)
• we do not know effective stress (but we know total stress)
• confining stress selected to simulate stress from depth where sample taken
• typically s3 (psi) = 0.75(z) (this assumes a total unit weight of ~100 pcf)

s3

g ~100 pcf

z (ft)
s3 u= ?

s (psi)~ 0.75(z)
Unconsolidated-Undrained (UU) Test (Q-Test)
Step 4: Apply deviator stress (s1) and monitor stress-strain until failure
• typical axial strain rate is 1% per minute
• typically go to about 15%-25% axial strain 30

25
Step 5: Calculate undrained shear strength (su)

## axial stres (psi)

20

15

10
s 1f 5
shear
stress (t) 0
0.00 2.00 4.00 6.00 8.00 10.00 12.00 14.00
axial strain(%)

s3
u= ?

su Test 1 Test 2

su 
s 1f s3  s3 s1f s3 s1f
2 total normal stress (s)
Consolidated-Undrained (CU) Test (R-Test)
• Used to determine fcu
• Sample is consolidated to some initial effective stress (to represent field)
• Sheared with no drainage allowed
• Must analyze in terms of total stress
• Plot results from multiple tests to find fcu

shear
stress (t)

fcu

Test 1 Test 2

s3 s1f s3 s1f
Consolidated-Undrained Test with pore
pressure measurements (CU-bar Test)
• Used to determine c’ and f’
• Sample is consolidated to some initial effective stress (to represent field)
• Sheared with no drainage allowed BUT u measured with transducer
• Can analyze in terms of effective stress
• Plot results from multiple tests to find c’ and f’

shear
stress (t)

f’

c’ Test 1 Test 2

## s’3 s’1f s’3 s’1f

Example of CU-bar test ….. (Coduto 13.10)
A series of 3 CU triaxial compression tests have been performed on a set of "identical" clay specimens.
Each specimen had an inititial diamter of 50 mm and height of 120 mm.
The following results were obtained.

## Test Pf (N) ef (%) s3f (kPa) uf (kPa)

1 89 5.0 75 42
2 180 6.1 150 69
3 220 5.8 225 109

## Find f' and c'

2
A0 = r02 1963.50 mm

## Test Af (mm2) sdf (kPa) s3'f (kPa) s1'f (kPa)

1 2067 43 33.0 76.1
2 2091 86 81.0 167.1 300
3 2084 106 116.0 221.5

A0 Pf
Af  (s d ) f  (s 3 ' ) f  (s 3 ) f  u f (s 1 ' ) f  (s d ) f  (s 3 ' ) f
1 e f Af

200

t (kPa) 100

f' = 16 deg.

c' = 8 kPa

0
0 100 200 300
Effective Normal Stress s' (kPa)
Vane Shear Test (Field Vane)
• In-situ test for determining undrained shear strength (su)
• Very common in soft clays and silts (ASTM D2573)
• Typically conducted at bottom of borehole
• Torque required to fail soil related to su
• apply correction factors for failure mode, disturbance, rate effects, organics...

6 T f
su 
7d 3
= correction factor
(Coduto Fig 13.35) torque rate:
Tf = failure torque 1 deg per 10 sec
d = vane diameter

## (Durham Geo) (Geoengineer.org)

Pocket Penetrometer and Torvane
• Commonly used in field on samples
• At ends of Shelby tube after sampling
• Side walls of test pits
• Split spoon samples
• “Chunk” samples
• Applicable for soft to stiff clays and silts
• Pocket penetetrometer estimates qu (su = qu/2)
• Torvane estimates undrained shear strength (su)
• Does not account for rate effects, failure mode, etc.
but good indication of strength variation with depth.

torvane
(source: ODP)
Pocket penetrometer
Standard Penetration Test (SPT)
Cone Penetration Test (CPT)