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Direct shear tests 12.3.8 Shear strength of clays Test conditions The undrained strength of clays depends not only on the soil type and composition, in the sense described in Section 12.3.7 for sands, but also on factors related to the mineralogy, grain size and shape, adsorbed water, and water chemistry of the clay minerals present. Shear strength also depends to a great extent upon the initial moisture content of the clay, and the rate at which the soil structure can expel or take in water during a test. When a saturated soil is subjected to shear, excess pore water pressures are generated, and the rate at which these pressures can dissipate depends on the soil permeability. Quick and slow tests Ina ‘quick’ test on a soil of low permeability, such as clay, the time period is not sufficient to allow excess pore pressures to dissipate and the soil is tested in the undrained condition. The shearbox apparatus, in which drainage cannot be entirely prevented, is not suitable for this type of test. The undrained shear strength, c, is usually determined by means of tests on cylindrical specimens, as described in Chapter 13. For saturated and soft clays the undrained shear strength can be measured directly using the vane apparatus (see Section 12.8). However, different methods of test, and different rates of testing, can give significantly different values of c,. The drained shear strength of clays, for derivation of the effective strength parameters, can be determined from ‘slow’ drained shearbox tests, as explained in Section 12.3.9 below. 12.3.9 Drained tests on clays and silts Principle Measurement of the drained shear strength of clays and silts is the same in principle as for sands, the only practical difference being the length of time required. Drained tests on low permeability soils take longer than tests on sands (often periods of several days) because of the longer time needed for drainage of excess pore water. The test method includes a procedure for measuring the rate of drainage during a consolidation stage, from which a suitable rate of shearing can be assessed empirically. Tests are usually carried out on a set of specimens each at a different pressure. The soil is first allowed to consolidate under the selected normal pressure, until consolidation is completed and there is virtually no excess of pore pressure remaining (see Chapter 14, Section 14.3.2). Shear displacement is then applied slowly enough to allow the dissipation of any further pore water pressure (whether positive or negative) which may develop due to shear, the rate of displacement being determined from the consolidation stage. Under these conditions the effective stresses are equal to the applied The shear strength envelope obtained from a set of drained tests is typically of the form shown in Figure 12.23. The envelope is approximately linear, the inclination to the horizontal axis being the angle of shear resistance in terms of effective stress, ! The intercept with the shear stress axis gives the apparent cohesion in terms of effective stress, denoted by c’. Rate of displacement The rate of displacement at which the specimen should be sheared in a drained test depends upon the drainage characteristics, i.e. the permeability of the soil and the thickness of the 229 Manual of Soil Laboratory Testing Shear streng ef Figure 12.23 Typical shear strength envelope from a set of drained shearbox tests taco ‘tie minutes ainage surface PAR AAT fT yry Drainage surface Setiement mm Loom Githoe t)= 12.7 « tyoo minutes Oe H t « meyear Figure 12.24 Derivation of time to failure from consolidation curve. Example calculation: If Wig min = 5.8, (, = (6.8)? = 33.6 min f= 12.7 x 33.6 = 427 min IfH = 21mm 0.103 « (21) a3 7 135 milycar sample. Since the permeability is related to the coefficient of consolidation (see Chapter 14, Section 14.3.11), the consolidation stage of the test can provide the data for estimating a suitable time to failure. An empirical derivation is used, the principle of which is outlined as follows. (The theoretical background will be presented in Volume 3.) From the consolidation of the specimen under the applied normal pressure a curve of settlement against square-root-time (minutes) is obtained, of the form indicated in Figure 12.24. A tangent is drawn to the early straight-line portion of the curve, in the same way as described in Section 14.3.7, method 2. This line is extended to intersect the horizontal line representing 100% consolidation, which often corresponds to the 24 hour reading. The point 230 Direct shear tests of intersection gives the value of Vf,,. (see Figure 12.24), which when multiplied by itself gives the time intercept ¢,,. (min) as defined by Bishop and Henkel (1962). The time required to failure, ¢, is related to f,,, by the empirical equation 412.7 ty, min (12.9) (Gibson and Henkel, 1954), ‘The coefficient of consolidation, c,, can be calculated from the equation 0.103H? 5 Sm / year ‘hoo (12.10) where His the specimen thickness (mm) and ¢,,, is in minutes, For a standard specimen of height H/ = 20 mm, Equation (12.10) becomes 41 —m? / year oo (12.11) A difficulty arises with this method if the consolidation curve does not resemble the theoretical curve, in that the initial portion up to about 50% consolidation is not linear. This may be due to the effect of bedding of the grid plate, or to the presence of air in the voids of the soil (ie. partial saturation) A method which gives a reasonable estimate of Vi, from which c, and the time to failure may be derived, is illustrated in Figure 12.25 and is as follows (Binnie and Partners, 1968). It requires a number of settlement readings to be taken in the later stages of consolidation, Find the point C which is the earliest at which consolidation is substantially complete, e. beyond which the curve virtually flattens out. Make AB = 0.5C, and read off the value of 1,9, at the point B. Values of ¢,,, f,and c, are then calculated as described above. Consolidation of free-draining soils takes place very rapidly, and consolidation readings against time are not practicable. The ‘quick’ procedure is then applicable, in which failure should occur within 5 to 10 minutes. Vbme, nut Early portion not straight Earlest point at which consolidation s suostantilly complete az 8 c ean! Make AB= J Ac Settiemant mm Figure 12.25 Derivation of time to failure from ‘non-standard’ consolidation curve 231