Influence of Water Infiltration on the Deformation of Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Walls

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Title: Influence of Water Infiltration on the Deformation of Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Walls
Author: Kim, Wan Soo
Advisors: Dr. Mohammed A. Gabr, Committee Member
Dr. M. Shamimur Rahman, Committee Member
Dr. R. Wayne Skaggs, Committee Member
Dr. Roy H. Borden, Committee Chair
Abstract: The use of locally available soils, often with significant fines contents, clearly has great economic impact on the cost of mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) wall construction. However, numerous problems associated with large deformations and some failures after surface water infiltration into these ?marginal soils? have been documented in the literature (e.g. Soong and Koerner, 1999). The documented problems can be better understood using the framework of unsaturated soil mechanics because compacted soils are typically found in an unsaturated state. This thesis presents the implementation of infiltration, seepage, volume change, and shear strength modeling of unsaturated conditions appropriate for compacted soils into the FLAC (Fast Lagrangian Analysis of Continua) code to study the behavior of an MSE wall constructed with marginal soils. The effect of matric suction (as well as net normal stress) on the soil properties such as elastic modulus and shear strength was considered in the developed FLAC model. The stress dependent elastic modulus was determined from the results of the one-dimensional oedometer test. The elastic moduli of specimens prepared under various compaction conditions were investigated for soaked specimens as well as specimens tested at as-compacted moisture contents while considering both drained and undrained loading conditions. A procedure to estimate the undrained modulus from the constitutive relation for drained loading and the predicted pore pressure due to loading was suggested. The prediction of pore pressure was computed by modifying Hilf?s equation. Comprehensive studies on the prediction on unsaturated shear strength were performed using the three most commonly used empirical procedures (Vanapalli et al.?s 1st and 2nd approaches and the Khalili and Khabbaz method). The influence of the shape of Soil Water Characteristic Curve (SWCC) on the predicted shear strength was investigated through a parametric study. Moreover, shear strength data published in the literature for fifteen soils were examined using these procedures. Comparisons between measured and predicted values of unsaturated shear strength were presented for different soil types. The effect of stress state on the prediction of shear strength was also discussed. A series of numerical simulations including transient seepage analyses and stress deformation analyses were performed in order to predict the behavior of a MSE wall subjected to surface-water infiltration. In this research, two mechanisms to cause the deformation due to wetting were considered in simulations; (1) the deformation induced by shear strength decreases and (2) the volumetric deformation (swell or collapse) due to wetting. The effect of a low-quality compaction zone behind the wall face and the resulting higher permeability on the wall behavior was investigated. As result of the simulations, the wall deformations (face deflections and settlements) and reinforcement tensions (average and maximum tensions) were presented during construction and after periods of infiltration.
Date: 2008-12-07
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Civil Engineering

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