Shear Strength and Stiffness of Silty Sand

Prof. Rodrigo Salgado, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Purdue University

The stiffness and shear strength of clean sands have been studied extensively. However, natural sands generally contain significant amounts of silt and/or clay. The mechanical response of such soils is different from that of clean sands. This lecture addresses the effects of non-plastic fines on the small-strain stiffness and shear strength of sands. A series of laboratory tests was performed on samples of Ottawa sand with fines content in the range of 5% to 20% by weight. The samples were prepared at different relative densities and were subjected to various levels of mean effective consolidation stress. Most of the triaxial tests were conducted to axial strains in excess of 30%. The stress-strain responses were recorded, and the shear strength and dilatancy parameters were obtained for each fines percentage. Bender element tests performed in triaxial test samples allowed assessment of the effect of fines content on small-strain mechanical stiffness.

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