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How Pore Water Pressure Reduce Soil Strength

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and Soil Dynamics and Symposium in Honor of Professor W.D. Liam Finn

San Diego, California, March 26-31, 2001

Awad Ali AI-Karni

Civil Engineering Department, College of Engineering, King Saud University,

P.O. Box 800, Riyadh 11421, Saudi Arabia

ABSTRACT

Earthquake shaking causes the pore water pressure inside the soil mass to increase rabidly within a short period of time as seconds. As a

result, the shear strength of the soil could be reduced significantly. The reduction in the shear strength will increase gradually as the

shaking continues due to the gradual increase in the buildup of the excesspore water pressure. At a certain level of shaking, the soil mass

will liquefy and could be considered as a viscous fluid.

In this paper, a mathematical expression of a reduction factor was derived to estimate the reduction in the shear strength due to the buildup

of the excess pore water pressure. This reduction factor represents the ratio of the effective shear strength ofthe soil at a certain level of

shaking and the effective static shear strength. Using Mhor’s failure criteria, the shear strength at a certain level of shaking was calculated

as a function of the applied horizontal and vertical acceleration coefficients produced by the earthquake shaking at the desired value of

excess pore water pressure. The reduction factor was compared with some of the available dynamic triaxial and shaking table data. It was

found that the derived relationship gives a good prediction of the reduction in the shear strength until the stage of liquefaction is reached.

As an application, the derived expression can be used in determining the reduction in the bearing capacity at any suggested level of excess

pore water pressure using certain coefficients of acceleration.

KEYWORDS

INTRODUCTION seismic activity, an increase in pore water pressure that

migrates as “pulse” away from the reservoir after filling

Building up of excess pore water pressure inside a soil or may have been sufficient to reduce the strength of the

rock mass could reduce the strength of the soil to a very rock to the point where rupture could occur (Kramer,

low value and result in unstable ground. Several reasons 1996).

could cause the pore pressure to increase such as seepage

due to filling of reservoirs with water, earthquake shaking Pore water pressure inside a saturated soil layer could also

of a saturated soil layer, or leakage of water Corn increase during earthquake shaking and results in a

undergroundbroken pipeline to the surroundingmass.In significant reductionof the soil strength.At certainlevel

1935, local seismic&y increased significantly after filling of pore water pressure, the soil will completely loose its

of Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam on the Nevada- strength; this phenomenon is termed liquefaction

Arizona border. When the Koyna Dam reservoir in India (Mogami and Kubo, 1953). As a result, large earthquake

was filled with water, local shallow earthquakes became damages could develop including flow failures of dams,

common in an area previously thought to have been slopes, and foundations, lateral spreading of abutments,

virtually aseismic. In 1967, five years after tilling of the foundations, and substructures, and sand boils. However,

Koyna reservoir had begun, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake soil deposits that are susceptible to liquefaction are

killed 177 persons and injured more than 2000 more. formed within a relatively narrow range of geological

After construction of the High Dam, a magnitude 5.6 environments (Youd, 199 1).

earthquake occurred in Aswan, Egypt where very little

significant seismic activity had been observed in the 3000

years history of the area. In these cases, seismic activity STABILITY FACTOR

appears to have been triggered by the presence of the

reservoir. While the effect of the weight of the impounded As shown in Fig. 1, the shear strength of a saturated C-$I

9.12

soil is defined by,

r =C+oh tan@=C+(a,-U)tan+ (1) (5)

parameter, a,, is the total normal pressure, aA is the

effective normal pressure, 4 is the angle of friction of By dividing the numerator and the denominator by ai,

the soil, and U represents the hydrostatic pore water one gets

pressure which is calculated as,

C +l-AL!

,

u=y,z ]A .tan+r cn

(2) (6)

L

+l

where ;v,,, is the unit weight of water and z is the depth 4l .tan(d

from the water table level to the point at which U is

calculated. The incremental water pressure (AU’) due to C

earthquake shaking will further reduce the ultimate Assuming that the factor F= and

crh .tan$ ’

shear strength (rreJ (see Fig. 1) as,

substituting F into Eqn. (6) gives

rr,d=C+(aj,-AU)tan$ (3)

F+I-&

On

I= (7)

F+l

(8)

(8) reduces to

(9)

L vn J

From Mohr’s circle shown in Fig. 2, the value of

cr,!,can be calculated as,

mk = X-Rsin@ (10)

yields

1+ (4 -AU) tan$

rred _ c

(4)

r

l+*tan+

t

C

~ and rearranging terms gives

tan 4 Fig. 2. Mohr Failure diagram for C-4 soil.

9.12

.

where

‘y--- R C

(11)

sin@ tan4

L

kh

a; = (1 -k,)y5

where

kv

R= (4 -4>* +r,2

*z

a; = K,a;

d 4

effective stressesai , oJr , and rJ, on a soil element A

at depth z subjected to horizontal and vertical Fig. 3. Stresses on soil element due to earthquake.

accelerations from an earthquake (as shown in Fig. 3)

are By referring to Eqn. (8), when the value of the stability

factor is equal to one, there is no effect of the pore

a; = (I- k,)yi water pressure on the stability of the soil layer except

(14)

the one due to the hydrostatic water pressure. However,

as the excess pore water pressures builds up, the

0; = K(l - k,)y> (1% stability factor becomes lower than one, and hence the

stability of the soil layer starts to decrease. At high

and value of buildup excess pore water pressure, the value

of the stability factor becomes equal to, or even less

(16) than zero at which the soil reaches a state of complete

liquefaction and the soil can be treated as a viscous

where kh and k, are the horizontal and vertical fluid with low shear strength.

acceleration coefficients, respectively. Substituting of

Eqns. (14), (15), and (16) into Eqn. (13) and

rearranging the terms, then CALCULATIONS

The stability factor can be calculated for any soil layer that is

subjected to earthquake shaking using Eqn. (8). Al-Karni

(17) (1993) conducted experimental tests on saturated sandy soil

layer having an angle of friction of 4 lo and relative density of

0.67. The soil sample was shaken at horizontal acceleration of

where K is lateral earth pressure coefficient and given

0.45g for about 45 set as shown in Fig 4a. The degree of

by Richards et al. (1990) for active case as saturation of the soil layer was almost 100% and the water

table was at zero depth of the layer surface. The measured

excess pore water pressure was high during the first cycles

(18) and then decreased gradually. This behavior is due to the

ability of water to dissipate from the soil mass and the

and allowance of the sand to get denser. By calculating the

stability factor of this soil layer at this level of shaking and at

tan6 =- kh

(19) the location of measurement using Eqn. (8), it could be seen

1 -k, from Fig. 3c the soil has lost its strength completely at early

stage of shaking where the stability factor drops below one.

By substituting of Eqn. (17) in Eqn. (12), then Due to the dissipation of the water with time, the stability

began to increase as a result of reduction of the excess pore

water pressure.

sample under cyclic triaxial loading. The experimental results

9.12

t

of a triaxial cyclic test on loose sample of Sacramento sand

that was run by Seed and Lee (1961) was used here. The

0.6 , I variation of the stability factor with time of loading is shown

0.4

in Fig. 5. This figure shows that the soil had lost its strength to

a high degree when the water pressures increased to the level

0.2 of the confming pressure.

0

x measurement of how the soil strength changes with the

-0.2 changes in the excess pore water pressure. Thus the stability

factor could be used as a useful factor in determining the

-0.4 reduction in bearing capacity as shown below.

-vu I .

Time (ms)

4

3.5

3

2.S

3 IS

a 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

1

Time (set)

OS

0 (a)

0.9

5000 10000 1SO00 20000

0.8

Time (ms)

0.7

@I 0.6

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0

0 I 2 3 4 5 6

Time (set)

Time (ms) loading, (b) calculated stability factor.

Fig. 4. (a) variation of applied horizontal acceleration with

The seismic bearing capacity factors described by Budhu and

time, (b) variation of measured excess pore water pressure

Al-kami (1993) can be used to modify popular static bearing

lvith time, (c) variation of the calculated stability factor with

capacity equations (Terzaghi, 1943, Meyerhof, 1963, Hansen,

time.

9.12 4

1970, Vesic, 1973). For example, the Meyerhof bearing EXCESS PORE WATER PRESSURE

capacity equation for vertical load can be modified to become

a general equation to include seismic effects as follows: The value of excess pore water pressure (AU) that is expected

to generate during an earthquake is a function of the soil

properties and the duration of and intensity of the shaking.

The accuracy of estimating the values of seismic shear

strength &,d and the apparent angle of friction &d will depend

. . . (21)

on how precise the induced seismic pore water pressure may

be estimated in the soil deposit during the strong ground

where qur is the ultimate seismic bearing capacity, C is soil

motion. According to the knowledge of author, at present, no

cohesion, Ncs, N,s, N,s, are static bearing capacity factors, s

information is available concerning measurements of pore

and d are shape and depth factors, qr is the overburden

water pressure in the field induced by seismic waves that may

pressure, B is the footing width, y is the unit weight of the be used to calibrate theoretical or semi-imperial concepts.

soil, and e,, e4, and eYare the seismic factors calculated from Procedures have been developed for estimating the excess

Budhu and Al-kami ( 1993) as

pore water pressure as given, for example, by Zeevaert

(1983). Near ground surface in a saturated sand layer that has

e, = exp 1-4.3kf+D) 1 (22) a total depth that is large relative to footing size, Edinger

(1989) suggested that the maximum value of AU would

approach:

(23) AU = bP,k, (29)

where F” is the effective overburden pressure, and b=2/3 to

413. The value of b=4/3 represents a sand saturated to ground

ey =(I-tk,)exp (24) surface; b=2/3 represents saturation to level below the footing

bearing elevation. However, no such a relationship is

suggested for C-4 soil.

where D = C/(yH) and H is the depth of the failure zone from

the ground surface given as

EXAMPLE

H= (25)

If a soil deposit has the value of C=25 kN/m2, $=30” and

ysa,=l8.5 kN/m3 is expected to be subjected to an earthquake

shaking with kt,=0.25 and k,=O. 1, then the calculated seismic

where Dr is the depth of the footing.

bearing capacity at zero excess pore water pressure for square

footing with a side length of 1 m, depth of embedment of 1 m,

In Eqn. (2 1), the effect of excess pore water pressure due to

and static safety factor of 3 is equal to 1208.12 kN/m’with

earthquake shaking is not considered. Such an effect can be

seismic safety factor (F& of 1.76 (where FsE=qUs/qall(stahcI,

considered by replacing the values of the strength parameters

and qall(r,atic)is the allowable static bearing capacity). Now let

(C and 4) by reduced values due to the increase of excess pore us consider the effect of the excess pore water pressure in

water pressure. From the definition of I = N, then calculating the seismic bearing capacity. By assuming that

r Eqn. (29) is valid for the given C-4 soil in this example, the

(26) estimated excess water pressure was found to be equal to 7.58

kN/m2. Then, the calculated stability factor was found to be

or by using the reduced parameters, equal to 0.644 and the reduced soil parameters Crcd=0.8 C=20

Tred = Cred + ah tan#red (27) kN/m2 and &,d=28.78”. By using these reduced soil

parameters, the calculated seismic bearing capacity according

to Eqn. (21) was found to be equal to 879.65 kN/m’ with a

where Cred is unlikely to reduced below 80 percent (Seed and

seismic safety factor of 1.28. This example shows that the

Chan, 1966). By assuming C,,d=0.8 C, and equating Eqn. (26) procedure suggested here is able to give an estimation of the

with Eqn. (27), and rearranging the terms, then reduction of the seismic bearing capacity due to the buildup of

excess pore water pressure. However, a testing program is

4red = tan-l (ro8)%+l’tanb

1

By using the values of Cred and I&, the ultimate seismic

(28)

needed for calibrating this procedure.

CONCLUSSIONS

bearing capacity (quE) under the effect of the excess pore

The stability of a saturated soil layer subjected to

water pressure can be calculated from Eqn. (21) as shown in

earthquake shaking could be reduced significantly due

the example below.

9.12

to the buildup of excess pore water pressure. This Hansen, J. B. [1970]. “ A revised and extended formula

reduction in soil stability is due to the reduction in the for bearing capacity.“, Danish Geotechnical Institute,

shear resistance. A stability factor was derived here as Bulletin 28, Copenhagen.

the ratio of the reduced shear strength to the static shear

strength as a function of the applied horizontal and Kramer, S., L., [1996]. “Geotechnical Earthquake

vertical acceleration coefficients. The variation of the Engineering.” Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New

stability of a sandy soil layer with time, which was Jersey 0745 8.

subjected to horizontal shaking in the laboratory, was

calculated as well as the stability of a triaxial soil Meyerhof, G. C., [1963]. “ Some recent research on the

sample subjected to cyclic triaxial loading. The derived bearing capacity of foundations.“, Canadian

stability factor was used also to calculate the reduction Geotechnical Journal, 1 (I), pp. 16-26.

in seismic bearing capacity. Based on the results of this

study, the following points could be considered: Mogami, T., and Kubo, K. [1953]. “ The behavior of

soil during vibration.“, Proceedings, 3rd International

I. The stability factor is a useful tool for measuring Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation

the stability of saturated soil layer due to the effect Engineering, Zurich, Vol. 1, pp. 152-155.

of excess pore water pressure when the soil layer is

subjected earthquake shaking. Seed, H. B., and Lee, K. L., [1966]. “ Liquefaction of

saturated sands during cyclic loading.“, J. Soil Mech. &

The stability factor can be used in simple procedure Fnds. Engrg., ASCE., 92 (SM6), pp. 105-134.

to determine the reduction in seismic bearing

capacity of saturated soil that is subjected to Seed, H. B., and Chan, C. K., [1966]. “ Clay strength

earthquake shaking. under earthquake loading conditions.“, J. Geotech.

Engrg., ASCE., 92 (2), pp. 53-78.

Accurate relationship for the determination of the

excess pore water pressure, as a function of soil Terzaghi, K., [ 19431. “ Theoretical Soil Mechanics.”

properties and ground motion properties, is needed Wiley, New York.

for accurate determination of the stability factor and

then reduction in the soil shear strength. Vesic, A. S., [1973]. “ Analysis of ultimate loads of

shallow foundation.“, J. Geotechnical Engineering,

Extensive testing program on seismic bearing ASCE, 99 (l), pp. 43-73.

capacity for calibrating the theoretical analysis is

required. Youd, T. L. [1991]. “ Mapping of earthquake -induced

liquefaction for seismic zonation.“, Proceedings, 4*

Running of finite element analyses using advance international Conference on Sesimcic Zonation,

constitutive models for solving the seismic bearing Earthquake Engineering Reasearch Institute, Stanford

capacity will be helpful in calibrating the simple University, Vol. 1, pp.1 11-147.

limit analysis procedure.

Zeevaert, L. [1983]. “Foundation Engineering for

Difficult Conditions.” 2”d Ed., Van Nostrand Reinhold,

New York.

REFERENCES

bearing capacity of shallow footings on cohesionless

soil.“, PhD. Dissertation, University of Arizona,

Tucson, USA.

bearing capacity of soils.“, Geotechnique, 43 (I), pp.

181-187.

considerations in foundation design.“, The proceedings

of the 1989 ASCE foundation engineering congress,

Vol. 1, pp. 814-824.

9.12

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