Characterisation of soft soils for deep water developments

Shin Fun Chung

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    1208 Downloads (Pure)


    [Truncated abstract] This research has studied the penetration and extraction resistance profiles of different types of penetrometers in soft clay. The penetrometers of interest include the cone, T–bar, ball and plate. Effects of the surface roughness and aspect ratio of the T–bar penetrometer on its resistance have also been investigated. Undrained shear strength, Su, profiles derived from the penetration tests are compared with the shear strengths measured from field vane shear tests and laboratory (triaxial and simple shear) tests. Both in situ and centrifuge model penetration tests were undertaken for the research. In addition, ‘undisturbed’? tube samples were retrieved from both the field and the centrifuge strongbox samples (after completion of the centrifuge tests) for laboratory testing. The in situ testing was carried out in Western Australia, at the Burswood site near Perth, with tests including cone, T–bar, ball and plate penetrometer tests, and vane shear tests. Interestingly, the T–bar, ball and plate (‘full-flow’) penetrometers showed a narrow band of resistance profiles both during penetration and extraction, with a range of around 15 % between the highest and lowest profiles and standard deviation of 15 %. However, the cone penetrometer gave similar resistance at shallow depths but increasingly higher penetration resistance at depths greater than 7 m – a phenomenon that is also common in offshore results. During extraction, the cone penetrometer gave a higher resistance profile than the full–flow penetrometers for much of the depth of interest. The Su profile measured directly from the vane shear tests falls within the Su profiles derived from the penetration resistances of the full–flow penetrometers, using a single bearing factor, N = 10.5 (the value originally suggested in the literature for a T–bar penetration test). Again, the cone penetrometer demonstrated diverging results, requiring two separate values for the cone factor, Nkt (10.5 initially increasing to 13 for depths below 10 m) in order to give Su similar to the vane shear tests. This highlights the possible variability of the cone factor with depth. Cyclic penetration and extraction tests were performed at specific depths for each fullflow penetrometer. These tests comprised displacement cycles of ±0.5 m about the relevant depth, recording the penetration and extraction resistances over five full cycles. The results may be used to derive the remoulded strength and sensitivity of the soil. Laboratory tests such as triaxial and simple shear tests were performed on ‘undisturbed’ tube samples retrieved from the same site to evaluate the in situ shear strengths in the laboratory. However, the resulting Su data were rather scattered, much of which may be attributed to variable sample quality due to the presence of frequent shell fragments and occasional silt lenses within the test samples. In general, N factors for the full–low penetrometers, back–calculated using Su values measured from the simple shear tests, fell mainly in a range between 9.7 and 12.8 (between 10.4 and 12.2 for the standard size T–bar (250 mm x 40 mm))
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2005


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