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The influence of fabric on the shear behaviour of unsaturated compacted soils

The influence of fabric on the shear behaviour of unsaturated compacted soils

Geotechnical Special Publication 99: 222-234

Fabric plays a vital role in determining the engineering behaviour of compacted soils, particularly under unsaturated conditions. Clayey materials compacted dry of optimum moisture content develop an aggregated or "packet" fabric. The presence of aggregations causes the soil to behave in a coarser fashion than would be justified by the grading. This means that the friction angle phi (super a) (representing the strength component due to net stress) depends on the fabric of the soil. Dry of optimum moisture content, phi (super a) >phi ' (the angle of friction in saturated conditions). Similarly, the packet fabric also affects the angle phi (super b) (representing the strength component due to matric suction). Dry of optimum moisture content, phi (super b) becomes significantly lower than phi ' and at low water contents drops to zero. The normal practice for determining the shear strength properties of unsaturated soils (by multi-stage tests in which the suction is increased from an initial low suction state) will result in the packet fabric being destroyed in the first stage of shearing. Therefore, to properly study the shear strength behaviour of unsaturated compacted soils, tests should be performed on the soil in an "as compacted" condition.

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