Alternative Method for Analysing Hydromechanical Behaviour of Unsaturated Soils

M.M.A. Mascarenha, M.P. Cordão Neto, M.T.M.G. Silva


Soils and Rocks, São Paulo, 39(1): 29-39, January-April, 2016 | PDF


The suction-control techniques commonly used for laboratory studies of mechanical behaviour of unsaturated soils are much more time consuming than standard soil mechanics tests. In addition, few laboratories have the required apparatus for testing unsaturated soils. This paper proposes an alternative method of analysing hydromechanical behaviour of unsaturated soils with high-porosity. The method is divided in three tasks: 1) verification of the effect of void ratio changes on the water retention curve using filter paper; 2) determining water content changes by evaporation under the same test conditions; and 3) performing saturated and unsaturated consolidation tests. Unsaturated tests make use of samples that are less than 100% saturated and there is no suction control during the test. Therefore, only initial water content is known. Significant suction changes take place due to void closure and evaporation while testing. The results obtained using the proposed methodology showed the stress and suction path and enhance the understanding of the hydromechanical behaviour of unsaturated soils. The results also showed that analyses of water content alone cannot explain some unexpected results, such as: 20% initial water content samples present less deformation than 16% samples.

Invited Article, no discussion.