Consolidation Characteristics of Unsaturated Soil


The most common three-phase problem in porous media is the flow of air and water. This is for example found in the unsaturated zone, where water infiltrates through partly saturated pores to the groundwater. Liquid flow in the unsaturated zone is controlled by a combination of gravitational, capillary, and viscous forces. The mechanical behaviour of partially saturated soils can be very different from that of fully saturated soils. It has long been established that for such soils, changes in suction do not have the same effect as changes in the applied stresses, and consequently the effective stress principle is not applicable. Conventional constitutive models, which are based on this principle, are therefore of limited use when analyzinggeotechnical problems that involve the presence of partially saturated soil zones. In this paper, Al-Mdaina trial embankment was the problem analysed. The finite element programs SIGMA/W and SEEP/W were used, and eight noded isoparametric quadrilateral elements were used for modelling both the soil skeleton and pore water pressure. Parametric study was carried out and different parameters were changed to find their effects on the behaviour of partially saturated soil. Theparameters include the modulus of elasticity and permeability of the soil. It was concluded that the effect of modulus of elasticity on the behaviour of unsaturated soil is apparent at early stages of consolidation and diminishes when the time proceeds. When the clay layer consists of soft clay (Esoil <10000 kN/m2), the effect of unsaturated soil is apparent, while the effect of the modulus of elasticity diminishes when the soil is stiff.