Cavity Expansion Theory and Its Application to the Analysis of Pressuremeters

The successful application of in-situ testing of soils heavily depends on development of methods of interpretation of the tests. The purpose of this thesis is to develop a consistent theoretical basis for the interpretation of pressuremeter tests in cohesive and frictional materials.

The research programme is based on cavity expansion theory with additional details provided by a large strain finite element analysis.

A unified analytical solution is developed for the expansion and contraction of both cylindrical and spherical cavities in dilatant elastic-plastic soils. For the first time, explicit solutions for the pressure-expansion and pressure-contraction relationships are derived without any restriction being imposed on the magnitude of the deformation.

In addition, the finite element method is adopted for solving the cavity expansion problem. This is mainly due to the fact that only in special cases when simple material models and boundary conditions are involved has it been possible to solve the problem analytically. A finite element analysis of the cone-pressuremeter test in sand is described.

A series of two-dimensional finite element calculations on both the self-boring pressuremeter test and the cone-pressuremeter test is performed. In modelling the penetration process of cone-pressuremeter tests, the stresses evaluated by the cavity expansion theory are used as the starting condition for the finite element analysis. Emphasis is placed on quantifying the effects of pressuremeter geometry on derived deformation and strength parameters.

In the finite element formulation, a special effort is devoted to developing a lower order finite element suitable for analysing axisymmetric elastic-plastic problems which involve incompressibility constraints. The formulation of a new six-noded isoparametric displacement finite element is presented. To account for large strain (rotation) effects, an Eulerian description of deformation is adopted and the Jaumann stress rate is used in the soil constitutive equations.

The suitability of the conventional interpretation methods for pressuremeter tests is critically assessed in the light of the finite element results. Based on the numerical results, improved procedures for obtaining in-situ soil parameters from pressuremeter tests in both clay and sand have been proposed.
Source: Oxford University
Author: H.S.Yu

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