Investigation of Pore Pressures During High-Velocity Impact by a Free Fall Penetrometer

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Virginia Tech


Free-fall penetrometers (FFPs) are an attractive tool for the rapid characterization of sediments in the nearshore and coastal areas. To improve their measurement capabilities, modern FFPs can be equipped with pore pressure sensors. Pore pressure measurements are extensively used in traditional cone penetration testing, but their usage and interpretation is still limited for FFP testing. This thesis represents an effort to advance the interpretation of pore pressure measurements from FFP testing.

Data was collected using the torpedo-shaped FFP BlueDrop during surveys at Herschel Island, YT, Yakutat, AK, Clay Bank, VA, and Yorktown, VA. Additionally, test deployments in the laboratory were performed in kaolin clay. Data analysis was focused on pore pressure measurements during these deployments. Two major advancements regarding current data analysis of FFP pore pressure measurements were explored: 1) a method based on fluid dynamic principles was proposed to correct the pressure recordings for the dynamic flow effects due to the high-velocity fall and impact. The results show that using Bernoulli’s theorem coupled with the concept of pressure coefficients results in good agreement between measured and hydrostatic pressures during the free-fall and initial penetration stage. 2) Pore pressure dissipation curves measured by the penetrometer at rest at maximum penetration depth were also studied. The mechanisms behind the non-standard dissipation curves were explored. The results suggest that non-standard dissipation curves can be interpreted by correcting according to Sully et al.’s (1999) extrapolation technique. The technique can also be used with data from an unsaturated or clogged filter.



Pore pressures, In-situ site investigations, Free-fall penetrometer, Consolidation properties