Use of A=0 as a failure criterion for weakly cemented soils

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There is considerable uncertainty in the determination of effective stress strength parameters of cemented soils from undrained triaxial tests. Large negative excess pore pressures are generated at relatively large strains (typically 4-5% for cemented silty sand) in isotropically consolidated undrained (CIU) tests, which results in gas coming out of solution during shear and significant variability in the measured peak deviator stress. In this study, different failure criteria for weakly cemented sands were evaluated based on the results of CIU and isotropically consolidated drained triaxial compression tests conducted on samples of artificially cemented sand. The use of A-=0 as a failure criterion eliminates the variability between the undrained tests and also ensures that the mobilized failure strength is not based on the highly variable negative excess pore pressures. In addition, the resulting strains to failure are comparable to the strains to failure for the drained tests. Mohr-Coulomb strength parameters thus estimated from the undrained tests are generally lower than strength parameters obtained from drained tests, and the difference between the failure envelopes from undrained tests increases as the level of cementation increases. This divergence is attributed to differences in the stiffness of the cemented soil under the different loading conditions. The stiffness under undrained loading conditions decreases with increasing cementation due to an increase in the generation of positive excess pore pressure at low strains. © 2011 ASCE.

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Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering