Factors Influencing the Post-Earthquake Shear Strength
Ajmera, Beena Danny
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Although clays are generally considered stable materials under seismic conditions, recent failures initiated in clay layers after earthquakes have emphasized the need to study the cyclic and post-cyclic behavior of these materials. Moreover, if strength loss as a result of cyclic loading were to occur in the material comprising the dam and/or dam foundation, the consequences of failure could be substantial. The objective of this study is to evaluate the effect of plasticity characteristics, mineralogical composition, and accumulated energy on the cyclic behavior, post-cyclic shear strength and the degradation in shear strength due to cyclic loading in normally consolidated clays. Seventeen soil samples prepared in the laboratory from kaolinite, montmorillonite, and quartz were tested using static and cyclic simple shear apparatuses. In addition, the results of cyclic simple shear tests on twelve natural samples were provided by Fugro Consultants, Inc. in Houston, TX. Using the results, cyclic strength curves were developed to represent 2.5%, 5% and 10% double amplitude shear strains. These curves were used to examine the influences of mineralogical composition, plasticity characteristics and shear strain on the cyclic resistance of soil samples. A power function was used to represent the cyclic strength curves. The samples were found to become increasingly resistant to cyclic loading as the plasticity index increased. Moreover, the soils with montmorillonite as the clay mineral were noted to have consistently higher cyclic resistances than the soils with kaolinite as the clay mineral. By examining the power functions, it was found that the cyclic strength curve approaches linearity as the plasticity index increases in soils having kaolinite as the clay mineral. However, the opposite trend is observed in soils having montmorillonite as the clay mineral. The study shows that the post-cyclic shear strength increases with increasing plasticity index. Moreover, the post-cyclic shear strengths of soils with montmorillonite as the clay mineral were significantly higher than the post-cyclic shear strengths of soils with kaolinite as the clay mineral. The degradation in shear strength due to cyclic loading appeared unaffected by mineralogy, but a greater reduction in strength was noted with decreasing plasticity index. The post-cyclic shear strength was also found to reduce as the number of cycles required to cause 10% double amplitude shear strain increased. The energy approach considering the accumulated energy per unit volume in the soil mass as a result of cyclic loading was also utilized in this study. The results from the energy approach were independent of the cyclic wave form, but were still dependent on the amplitude of the cyclic load used during the testing. An increase in the amplitude of the cyclic loading function results in a decrease in the accumulated energy per unit volume. Furthermore, an increase in the liquid limit and/or plasticity index of the soils containing kaolinite as the clay mineral shows an increase in the accumulated energy, whereas an increase in plasticity of the soils containing montmorillonite as the clay mineral results in a decrease in the amount of accumulated energy. In both types of materials, the amount of accumulated energy per unit volume is found to increase with increasing double amplitude shear strain. Relationship between the ratio of post-cyclic undrained shear strength to the baseline undrained shear strength and the accumulated energy is also determined.
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