An analytical study of the effect of penetration rate on piezocone tests in clay

M.F. Silva, David White, M.D. Bolton

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    Finite element cavity expansion analysis investigating the effect of penetration rate on piezocone tests in clay is presented. A coupled analysis was performed, in which the rate of cavity expansion was linked to the penetration rate of the cone and the cone angle, using the assumption that the deformation was wholly radial, and took place only between the cone tip and the cone shoulder. The soil was modelled using modified cam clay with two sets of parameters and varying values of overconsolidation ratio (OCR). The influence of penetration rate oil the stress and pore pressure distributions was examined. For slower penetration rates, the excess pore pressure at the cone shoulder is lower since consolidation is permitted coincident with penetration. The radial profiles of post-penetration voids ratio demonstrate that partially drained penetration is permitted by volume change in the near field, in addition to radial movement in the far field. The radial distribution of excess pore pressure after slow penetration differs from the undrained case, with a relatively low radial gradient existing at the cone face. As a result, the dissipation curves after slow penetration lag behind those following fast penetration. The cone velocity is made dimensionless by normalizing with the coefficient of consolidation and the cone diameter. 'Backbone' curves of normalized velocity against normalized tip resistance and excess pore pressure capturing the transition from undrained to drained penetration are derived. The normalized pore pressure backbone curve is unique, whilst the normalized tip resistance shows a small dependency on OCR. These backbone penetration curves are compared with centrifuge model piezocone tests conducted at varying rates, and subsequent dissipation tests. The numerical and experimental results suggest that the value of consolidation coefficient operative during the dissipation phase is 2-4 times higher than the virgin compression value due to changes in the operative soil stiffness, as demonstrated from the stress paths of individual soil elements. The use of multirate penetration tests to deduce values of consolidation coefficient is discussed, in light of these differences. Copyright (c) 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)501-527
    JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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