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FILTRES GEOTEXTILES: DIMENSIONNEMENT ET INSTALLATION FIABLES GEOTEXTILE FILTERS: RELIABLE DESIGN AND INSTALLATION

J.P. GIROUD
GEOSYNTEC CONSULTANTS RESUME Il est possible aujourdhui de dimensionner et installer les filtres gotextiles de faon fiable comme le montre cette communication. ABSTRACT Today, it is possible to design and install geotextile filters with a high degree of reliability, as shown in this paper.

Le Barrage de Valcros (1970), symbole de la fiabilit des filtres gotextiles. Valcros Dam (1970), a symbol of geotextile filter reliability.

NOTE IMPORTANTE / IMPORTANT NOTE


Texte franais / French text, pages 171F 186F A A Tables et figures bilingues / Bilingual tables and figures, pages 187F 196F Texte anglais / English text, pages 171A 186A (after the figures)

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1 INTRODUCTION

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1.1 Presque quarante ans dexprience Voici presque quarante ans que lon utilise des filtres gotextiles. Quarante ans de succs et derreurs, quarante ans dexprience qui font quaujourdhui le concepteur et lutilisateur disposent doutils perfectionns pour dimensionner et slectionner les filtres gotextiles. Au cours de ces quarante annes, on a tantt encens les filtres gotextiles, on les a tantt condamns. Il y a, dans la filtration, une passion qui nexiste pas dans les autres branches de la gotechnique, passion entretenue par les croyances irrationnelles qui rsultent de la difficult du phnomne de filtration et par la crainte inspire par le spectre du colmatage. Une armature qui se rompt, cest comme une jambe casse, cest soudain, vident, facile comprendre, et le traitement rationnel simpose. Un filtre qui se colmate, cest comme une maladie mystrieuse qui se dveloppe lentement, que lon dcouvre gnralement trop tard, que lon comprend mal, et pour laquelle il ny a pas de traitement vident. Et, cependant, la fonction dun filtre semble si simple! 1.2 Une fonction simple, mais un mcanisme complexe La fonction dun filtre dans un ouvrage de gotechnique est de laisser passer leau tout en retenant le sol. Autrement dit, un filtre doit jouer deux rles fondamentaux: laisser passer leau et retenir le sol. Il est important de noter que lon dit retenir, non pas arrter, et que lon dit le sol, non pas particules de sol. La fonction dun filtre dans un ouvrage de gotechnique est diffrente de la fonction dun filtre plac en travers dun fluide qui scoule charg de particules en suspension. Un tel filtre arrte les particules tandis quun filtre plac dans un ouvrage de gotechnique retient le sol, cest--dire lempche de se mettre en mouvement. Autrement dit, dans le cas dun filtre plac en travers dun fluide charg de particules en suspension (air poussireux, th), les particules arrtes par le filtre saccumulent petit petit sur celui-ci (et donc le colmatent progressivement), alors que, dans le cas du filtre dun ouvrage de gotechnique, le filtre empche le sol dans son ensemble de se mettre en mouvement, ce qui fait que la plupart des particules demeurent immobiles et, par consquent, ne saccumulent pas sur le filtre (et donc ne le colmatent pas). Il y a cependant toujours des particules fines qui se dplacent, entranes par leau: le filtre doit les laisser passer. Ceci est un aspect essentiel du fonctionnement dun filtre dans un ouvrage de gotechnique. La rtention ne doit pas tre totale: le sol doit seulement tre retenu dans son ensemble et, si des particules se dplacent individuellement, il ne faut surtout pas que le filtre les arrte car il se colmaterait. Il y a, par ailleurs, certaines situations critiques o leau, qui scoule dans le sol, transporte une grande quantit de particules en suspension. Un filtre expos une telle situation ne peut que se colmater. Il est donc important didentifier ces situations et de les viter par une conception approprie de louvrage qui contient le filtre : cest une chose que lon sait faire et qui sera discute plus en dtail dans la suite de cette communication. 1.3 Des mthodes de dimensionnement influences par la tradition Le dimensionnement dun filtre se fait traditionnellement laide de deux critres, un critre de permabilit et un critre de rtention. Ces deux critres correspondent aux deux rles fondamentaux contenus dans la fonction de filtre: laisser passer leau et retenir le sol. Le critre de permabilit exprime que le filtre est suffisamment permable (cest--dire a des ouvertures suffisamment grandes) pour laisser passer leau librement et le critre de rtention exprime que le filtre a des ouvertures suffisamment petites pour retenir le sol. Cette approche traditionnelle par deux critres fournit au concepteur un outil qui est satisfaisant dans la majorit des cas. Cependant, cette approche traditionnelle par deux critres tend masquer la dualit du mcanisme de rtention et une approche traduisant mieux la ralit est dcrite ci-dessous. Une rflexion sur la fonction de filtration, telle que dcrite au Paragraphe 1.2, montre que le dimensionnement dun filtre doit rpondre deux exigences opposes (mais non contradictoires) concernant les ouvertures du filtre : (1) le filtre doit avoir des ouvertures assez petites pour retenir le sol dans son ensemble; et (2) le filtre doit avoir des ouvertures assez grandes pour laisser passer leau librement et aussi, ce que lon oublie souvent, pour ne pas arrter les particules de sol qui sont transportes par leau. La seconde exigence tant double, il en rsulte trois critres: un critre de rtention (du sol dans son ensemble), un critre de permabilit, et un critre de non-rtention (des particules en mouvement). Cette approche du dimensionnement des filtres laide de trois critres est plus correcte que lapproche par deux critres car elle correspond exactement aux exigences de fonctionnement dun filtre. On pourrait argumenter que les critres de permabilit et de non-rtention font double emploi puisque le respect du critre de permabilit implique que les ouvertures du filtre ne sont pas petites, ce qui entrane le respect du critre de non-rtention. Ceci est peut-tre vrai dans le cas des filtres granulaires mais ne lest certainement pas dans le cas des filtres gotextiles. En effet, les gotextiles, ayant gnralement une trs grande permabilit,

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vrifient pratiquement toujours le critre de permabilit, mme avec des ouvertures trs petites, ce qui ne garantit pas que ces ouvertures satisferaient le critre de non-rtention. Le critre de permabilit tant pratiquement toujours vrifi dans le cas des filtres gotextiles, leffort de conception et dimensionnement doit se concentrer sur la rtention (du sol dans son ensemble) et sur la nonrtention (des particules en mouvement). En consquence, cette communication ne traitera que des mcanismes et critres de rtention et non-rtention. 1.4 Des modes de dysfonctionnement bien connus Il rsulte de la discussion prsente plus haut (Paragraphe 1.2) quil y a trois modes de dysfonctionnement dun filtre: (1) manque initial de permabilit (cest--dire permabilit insuffisante du filtre mme en labsence de colmatage) qui se traduit par un passage insuffisant deau travers le filtre; (2) rtention excessive qui se traduit par une accumulation de particules fines sur ou dans le filtre, cest--dire le colmatage; et (3) rtention insuffisante qui se traduit par un transport excessif de particules travers le filtre (excessif, cest--dire en excs par rapport au transport dsirable travers le filtre des particules qui de toutes faons sont entranes par leau). Ce phnomne de transport de particules a reu divers noms comme lessivage ou rosion interne, ainsi que renard dans le cas o lrosion revt la forme dune renardire. Le colmatage rduit la permabilit du filtre; par consquent, le colmatage et le manque initial de permabilit ont les mmes consquences: un drainage insuffisant du sol situ lamont du filtre, ce qui se traduit par une teneur en eau leve du sol (ce qui est indsirable si le but est dasscher le sol) et par une pression interstitielle leve (ce qui peut avoir une influence catastrophique sur la stabilit du sol). Le transport excessif de particules peut avoir des consquences nfastes lamont et laval du filtre: lamont, le dpart de particules peut se traduire par un affaissement du sol et, laval, larrive de particules peut se traduire par un colmatage du drain, sil y en a un. On verra au Paragraphe 5.2 que limportance relative des diffrentes consquences nfastes potentielles que peut avoir un filtre dpendent de louvrage dans lequel le filtre est plac. Il est clair que le dysfonctionnement dun filtre peut avoir des consquences trs nfastes. On peut donc se rjouir de constater quil existe aujourdhui des mthodes fiables pour dimensionner les filtres, en particulier les filtres gotextiles. 1.5 Des progrs remarquables et des outils fiables pour la conception des filtres gotextiles Au cours de ces vingt dernires annes, des progrs remarquables ont t faits dans quatre domaines essentiels concernant les filtres gotextiles: (1) on a appris identifier, donc viter, les sols qui conduisent de grands risques de colmatage quel que soit le type de filtre utilis (filtre gotextile ou granulaire); (2) on a appris intgrer dans les critres de rtention les paramtres importants qui rgissent le comportement du sol en contact avec le filtre; (3) on a appris quantifier les paramtres qui rgissent les caractristiques de filtration des gotextiles, ce qui permet de rationaliser la slection et la fabrication des filtres gotextiles; et, enfin, (4) on a appris utiliser les filtres gotextiles correctement, cest--dire bien les installer et bien les insrer dans louvrage, pour quils puissent assurer leur fonction avec un maximum de scurit. En dveloppant les quatre points ci-dessus, cette communication montre le chemin parcouru ces vingt dernires annes, un chemin parsem derreurs mais aboutissant des connaissances aujourdhui bien tablies. Il est important de rappeler certaines erreurs qui sont autant de piges dans lesquels on veut viter de retomber. Il est essentiel surtout de savoir que les connaissances daujourdhui reposent sur des bases solides et fournissent des outils fiables qui permettent dutiliser les filtres gotextiles avec une grande scurit, donc avec une grande confiance. 2 LES SOLS A RISQUES 2.1 Une erreur sur le terrain Un entrepreneur me montrait firement ce quil croyait tre un excellent travail: dans une tranche drainante en gravier, il avait plac un tuyau drainant perfor, comme lindiquait le dessin dexcution; mais, ce que nindiquait pas le dessin dexcution, il avait ajout un filtre gotextile autour du tuyau (Figure 1). Il avait, disait-il, amlior la conception du systme de drainage en ajoutant un filtre. (Bien entendu, lorigine de cette bonne action, il y avait le fait que lentrepreneur avait obtenu ce tuyau quip dun filtre gotextile pour un prix infrieur celui du tuyau spcifi sans filtre gotextile.) Jai demand que lentrepreneur reconstruise la tranche drainante sans le gotextile autour du tuyau. En effet, le filtre gotextile autour du tuyau tait inutile et nuisible. Il tait inutile parce quil ny avait pas lieu de retenir le gravier qui tait trop gros pour risquer de passer par les perforations du tuyau. Il tait nuisible parce que le gravier, comme cest souvent le cas en tranches drainantes, ntait pas propre; par consquent, ds que de leau traverserait le gravier en direction du tuyau, elle entranerait les particules fines prsentes la surface du gravier et les dposerait sur

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ou dans le filtre gotextile. Il faut bien comprendre quun filtre, moins que ses ouvertures soient trs grandes, arrte les particules transportes par le fluide qui le traverse: cest ainsi que fonctionnent les filtres air, huile, th, etc. En gotechnique, un filtre ne doit jamais, absolument jamais, tre dans une situation o il arrte des particules en suspension dans leau: ce filtre se colmatera automatiquement, quelles que soient ses caractristiques. 2.2 Sols granulomtrie discontinue La msaventure de lentrepreneur peut sexprimer dune manire plus gnrale en disant que le filtre gotextile tait en contact avec un sol granulomtrie discontinue o la fraction fine est en faible proportion. En effet, le gravier sale de la tranche est un sol dont la courbe granulomtrique contient un palier (Figure 2), ce qui reprsente une discontinuit dans la granulomtrie; de surcrot, ce palier est trs bas, ce qui indique que la proportion des particules fines est faible. Les particules fines, tant en petite quantit, noccupent pas tout le volume des pores du gravier qui, de ce fait, demeure trs permable. Leau peut donc sy couler grande vitesse et entraner les particules fines. Il est donc clair que lon ne doit pas placer de filtre en contact avec un sol granulomtrie discontinue o la fraction fine est mobile parce quen faible proportion. La proportion critique de particules fines en dessous de laquelle les particules fines sont mobiles dpend de la granulomtrie et de la densit du matriau qui constitue la fraction grossire du sol granulomtrie discontinue. En premire approximation, on peut noter les valeurs suivantes (obtenues laide de calculs lmentaires) pour la proportion critique de la fraction fine: de 24 30 % si la fraction grossire a une granulomtrie troite et une faible densit; de 17 23 % si la fraction grossire a une granulomtrie troite et une forte densit; et de 11 16 % si la fraction grossire a une granulomtrie tendue (Figure 3). 2.3 Instabilit interne Les sols qui contiennent des particules fines qui peuvent se dplacer entre les particules plus grosses sont appels sols instabilit interne. Les sols prsentant un risque dinstabilit interne sont les sols granulomtrie discontinue dont on a parl ci-dessus (Paragraphe 2.2) et les sols granulomtrie continue trs tendue, cest--dire des sols ayant un coefficient duniformit de 50 ou plus, par exemple 100 ou mme 1000. Dans le cas des sols granulomtrie discontinue il est assez facile de distinguer ceux qui prsentent un risque dinstabilit interne compte tenu de la proportion de fines, comme on la indiqu plus haut (Paragraphe 2.2). En revanche, dans le cas des sols granulomtrie continue mais trs tendue il est difficile de distinguer quantitativement ceux qui prsentent un risque dinstabilit interne; toutefois, dans le cas des sols sans cohsion, cela peut se faire daprs la forme de la courbe granulomtrique comme lont montr Lafleur et al. (1989). 2.4 Conclusion sur les sols risques Il ressort des discussions qui prcdent quil y a des sols risques, les sols instabilit interne. Il est important de savoir que lon dispose de techniques pour identifier ces sols, comme on la montr ci-dessus. Ces techniques peuvent se rsumer ainsi: (1) si le sol a une granulomtrie discontinue, il est instable si la proportion de la fraction fine est infrieure une certaine valeur qui dpend de la fraction grossire (voir Paragraphe 2.2); et (2) si le sol a une granulomtrie continue, il est gnralement stable mais il peut tre instable si sa granulomtrie est trs tendue, cest--dire si son coefficient duniformit est de 50 ou plus, par exemple 100 ou mme 1000. Si lon est en prsence dun sol qui est clairement instable, il nest pas question de mettre un filtre en contact avec ce sol. Dans certains cas, cela peut conduire changer la conception du projet. Si lon est en prsence dun sol qui nest pas clairement instable mais qui est la limite et pourrait prsenter un risque dinstabilit, il est recommand de faire appel un expert et il est possible que des essais de filtration en laboratoire savrent indispensables. Si, enfin, on se trouve en prsence dun sol dou de stabilit interne, on pourra envisager lutilisation dun filtre, autrement dit, on pourra considrer que ce sol est filtrable. Il faudra, bien entendu, pour que le filtre fonctionne correctement quil soit dimensionn, slectionn et mis en place de faon adquate, cest--dire en respectant les principes prsents dans les Sections 3, 4 et 5. 3 PRISE EN COMPTE DES CARACTERISTIQUES DU SOL REGISSANT LA RETENTION 3.1 Une premire erreur du bon sens Le bon sens indique sans hsitation que, pour retenir les particules dun sol, un filtre doit avoir toutes ses ouvertures plus petites que la plus petite des particules du sol. Il est clair que, dans ces conditions, aucune particule de sol ne peut passer travers le filtre. On a donc une rtention absolue, ce qui semble donner raison au bon sens. Cependant, un tel filtre aurait beaucoup de chances de mal fonctionner pour les deux raisons suivantes: (1) le filtre, ayant de trs petites ouvertures, aurait une trs faible permabilit et ne laisserait pas passer leau librement, ce qui est contraire lun des deux rles fondamentaux dun filtre; et (2)
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le filtre aurait de fortes chances de se colmater car il capterait les fines particules en mouvement qui, mme dans le cas dun sol dou de stabilit interne, existent toujours, du moins au dbut du fonctionnement du filtre. (Ce dernier point sera discut plus en dtail plus loin dans ce mme paragraphe.) Lorsquun sol est filtrable, cest--dire dou de stabilit interne (voir Paragraphe 2.4), les petites particules sont imbriques dans la structure forme par des particules de dimension suprieure (Figure 4a) et, par consquent, ne sont pas libres de se dplacer. Il est donc inutile de les retenir. Il convient cependant de distinguer deux cas: (1) le cas des sols granulomtrie troite, cest--dire des sols ayant un coefficient duniformit entre 1 et 3; et (2) le cas des sols granulomtrie tendue, cest--dire des sols ayant un coefficient duniformit suprieur 3. Il a t montr que, dans le cas des sols granulomtrie troite (coefficient duniformit entre 1 et 3), il suffit que le filtre retienne les particules les plus grosses pour que le sol soit retenu (Giroud, 1982a). Ces particules les plus grosses forment un squelette continu (Figure 4b) qui emprisonne les particules de dimension moyenne; lensemble des particules grosses et moyennes forment une structure stable qui emprisonne les particules un peu plus petites, etc.. Il en rsulte que, dans le cas des sols granulomtrie troite, toutes les particules dune dimension donne sont compltement emprisonnes dans la structure forme par toutes les particules de dimension suprieure. En revanche, dans le cas des sols granulomtrie tendue (coefficient duniformit suprieur 3), les particules les plus grosses ne sont pas en quantit suffisante pour former un squelette continu (Figure 4c). Le squelette est alors form par lensemble des particules suprieures une certaine dimension, laquelle dpend du coefficient duniformit du sol; cette dimension est infrieure celle des plus grosses particules mais elle est toujours nettement plus grande que la dimension des plus petites particules du sol (Giroud, 1982a). Par consquent, dans tous les cas, la rtention du sol est assure par un filtre retenant des particules nettement plus grosses que les particules les plus fines du sol. Il est trs important de noter qu linterface entre le sol et un filtre, et au voisinage de cet interface, il y a des particules qui ne sont pas emprisonnes dans le squelette, comme on le voit sur la Figure 4d, parce que le squelette est interrompu linterface et lgrement dsorganis au voisinage de linterface. Ds que leau commence scouler, elle entrane ces particules vers le filtre. Si les ouvertures du filtre sont trop petites, les particules en mouvement sont arrtes par le filtre et saccumulent petit petit sur celui-ci, le colmatant progressivement. Si, au contraire, les particules en mouvement ont la possibilit de passer travers le filtre, ce qui est le cas idal, il se forme dans le sol, au voisinage de linterface, une zone de permabilit lgrement suprieure celle du reste du sol. Cette zone assure une excellente transition entre le sol et le filtre. Il est clair, daprs les discussions prcdentes, quen matire de filtration le bon sens se trompe lourdement: il nest pas ncessaire, et il est mme gnralement nuisible, de retenir toutes les particules de sol; au contraire, il faut que le filtre laisse passer certaines petites particules et il lui suffit de retenir les particules qui forment le squelette pour assurer la rtention du sol. En retenant le squelette, le gotextile lui permet de jouer le rle de filtre pour les particules de dimension immdiatement infrieure celle des particules du squelette; leur tour, ces particules jouent le rle de filtre pour les particules de dimension immdiatement infrieure, etc.. En dautres termes, en assurant la stabilit du squelette, le gotextile agit comme un catalyseur qui permet au squelette de servir de base un autofiltre qui se dveloppe dans le sol et qui ne pourrait pas se dvelopper si le squelette ntait pas stable. On voit que la filtration est un phnomne trop complexe pour tre confi au bon sens. 3.2 Une erreur de la tradition Le fait quil suffise de retenir certaines grosses particules pour retenir lensemble du sol a t reconnu de longue date en mcanique des sols. Cependant la distinction, importante du point de vue de la filtration, entre le cas des sols granulomtrie troite (coefficient duniformit entre 1 et 3) et le cas des sols granulomtrie tendue (coefficient duniformit suprieur 3) na pas t faite clairement dans les travaux sur la filtration faits dans le cadre de la mcanique des sols traditionnelle. Cest pour cela que tous les critres de rtention proposs en mcanique des sols traditionnelle, cest--dire les critres pour les filtres granulaires, font rfrence d85 , cest--dire pratiquement la dimension des plus grosses particules du sol. Dans le cas des sols granulomtrie trs tendue, ceci conduit des absurdits que les ingnieurs gotechniciens connaissent bien et quils ont pris lhabitude de contourner par des procdures conventionnelles qui entretiennent un air de mystre autour du dimensionnement des filtres granulaires. ses dbuts, le dimensionnement des filtres gotextiles sest naturellement inspir du dimensionnement des filtres granulaires et a malheureusement hrit des problmes lis au dimensionnement de ces filtres. En particulier, des comits influencs par des ingnieurs gotechniciens attachs aux traditions de la mcanique des sols, ont adopt des critres de rtention pour les gotextiles qui perptuent les problmes lis au dimensionnement des filtres granulaires pour les sols granulomtrie tendue. Ce que lon sait aujourdhui sur la filtration impose une mise jour des critres de rtention proposs par certains comits pour les filtres gotextiles utiliss en prsence de sols granulomtrie tendue. On dispose depuis quinze ans de critres de rtention spcialement dvelopps pour les filtres gotextiles et qui rsultent dune
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analyse quantitative base sur les principes exposs ci-dessus (Paragraphe 3.1). Dans le cas des sols granulomtrie tendue, ces critres conduisent un dimensionnement fiable des filtres gotextiles; en revanche, les critres directement imits des critres pour filtres granulaires peuvent conduire des catastrophes. Ainsi, il a t montr que, si lon avait utilis au Barrage de Valcros un filtre gotextile dimensionn selon certains critres directement imits des critres pour filtres granulaires, le barrage aurait couru un grave danger drosion interne (Giroud, 1988). Comment expliquer autrement que par un aveugle attachement la tradition le maintien dun critre qui aurait conduit, sil avait t utilis, la ruine du Barrage de Valcros, le premier barrage construit avec un filtre gotextile? 3.3 Une deuxime erreur du bon sens Le bon sens na pas de chance avec la filtration. Ntant quun ramassis alatoire de croyances tablies sur la base de rflexions simplistes, le bon sens est mal quip pour fournir des solutions rationnelles des problmes comme la filtration qui requirent des analyses sophistiques. Daprs le bon sens, pour retenir une particule de sol de dimension donne, une ouverture de filtre doit tre de dimension infrieure la dimension de la particule (Figure 5a). Cest oublier que les particules de sol sont rarement seules en prsence de louverture dun filtre et quelles forment des pontages tels que certaines particules plus petites que louverture du filtre ne passent pas (Figure 5b). La stabilit de ces pontages dpend de la cohsion et de la densit du sol. Dans le cas des sols cohrents, comme les argiles, des pontages de lordre de 100 micromtres, cest--dire comprenant plusieurs dizaines de particules peuvent tre stables. Dans le cas des sols sans cohsion, comme les sables, ou faible cohsion, comme les silts, des pontages de deux trois particules peuvent tre stables si le sol est dense, ce qui est souvent le cas dans les ouvrages de gotechnique. Moyennant certaines approximations, il a t montr que, dans le cas des sols denses, louverture du filtre pouvait tre gale deux fois la dimension des particules retenir (Giroud, 1982a). Cependant, si le sol est dans un tat peu dense, ce qui est le cas dans certains ouvrages mal construits ou dans des situations difficiles comme, par exemple, les glissements de terrain, il ny a pas de pontage stable et il faut un filtre dont louverture soit de dimension infrieure la dimension de la particule retenir. Les critres de rtention dvelopps spcialement pour les filtres gotextiles tiennent compte de leffet de pontage. Il ne faut donc pas stonner de voir que, dans certains cas, ces critres autorisent des ouvertures de filtres plus grandes que la dimension des particules retenir, au risque de sembler dfier le bon sens. 3.4 Conclusion sur la prise en compte des caractristiques du sol dans les critres de rtention Les discussions qui prcdent peuvent se rsumer ainsi: (1) un filtre gotextile doit tre dimensionn pour retenir les particules qui forment le squelette du sol; (2) la dimension de ces particules dpend de la granulomtrie du sol et elle est donne directement par les critres de rtention dvelopps spcialement pour les filtres gotextiles; (3) ces critres de rtention tiennent galement compte du phnomne de pontage des particules dans le cas des sols denses. La Figure 6 prsente schmatiquement lesprit des critres de rtention dvelopps spcialement pour les filtres gotextiles. On voit sur cette figure que: (1) dans le cas des sols peu denses (cest--dire les sols o il ny a pas de pontage des particules de sol au dessus des ouvertures du filtre), louverture de filtration autorise est gale la dimension des plus grandes particules du sol si le coefficient duniformit du sol est infrieur ou gal 3 et est infrieure la dimension des plus grandes particules du sol si le coefficient duniformit du sol est suprieur 3 puisque, dans ce cas, les particules qui forment le squelette sont plus petites que les plus grandes particules du sol; et (2) , dans le cas des sols denses, du fait du pontage des particules de sol au dessus des ouvertures du filtre, louverture de filtration autorise est plus grande que dans le cas des sols peu denses ce qui se traduit par le fait que la courbe reprsentant le critre de rtention est alors au-dessus de celle qui correspond au cas des sols peu denses. Ainsi, dans le cas des sols denses, louverture de filtration est plus grande que la dimension des plus grandes particules du sol lorsque le coefficient duniformit du sol est suprieur 5 approximativement, comme le montre la Figure 6. Un exemple de critre de rtention qui tient compte de caractristiques du sol rgissant la rtention est le critre de Giroud (1982a) prsent dans le Tableau 1 et la Figure 7. La diffrence daspect entre les courbes des Figures 6 et 7 vient du fait que la dimension de base utilise pour tablir la Figure 6 est la dimension des plus grosses particules de sol (reprsentes schmatiquement par des sphres) alors que, dans la Figure 7, la dimension de base est le d50 du sol (Figure 7a) ou le d85 du sol (Figure 7b). Dun point de vue didactique, il tait prfrable dutiliser la dimension des plus grosses particules de sol dans la Figure 6, alors quil tait plus pratique dutiliser le d50 ou le d85 du sol dans le critre reprsent par la Figure 7 car la dimension des plus grosses particules dun sol nest pas facile mesurer avec prcision du fait de la prsence, toujours possible, dune grosse particule erratique. En conclusion, on voit que les critres de rtention actuels dvelopps spcialement pour les filtres gotextiles sont sophistiqus en ce qui concerne la faon dont ils prennent le sol en compte car ils tiennent compte de trois caractristiques du sol rgissant la rtention: la dimension des particules (la seule
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caractristique du sol prise en compte par les critres traditionnels), la forme de la courbe granulomtrique (par lintermdiaire du coefficient duniformit) et la densit du sol. 4 PRISE EN COMPTE DES CARACTERISTIQUES DU FILTRE REGISSANT LA RETENTION 4.1 Limitation des critres de rtention actuels Les critres de rtention actuellement disponibles pour les filtres gotextiles sont trs sophistiqus en ce sens quils tiennent compte de plusieurs paramtres relatifs au comportement du sol en contact avec le filtre gotextile, mais ils sont moins sophistiqus en ce qui concerne la faon dont ils prennent en compte le filtre gotextile. Un seul paramtre relatif la fonction du filtre gotextile est pris en compte: louverture de filtration. Ainsi, les critres actuels de rtention considrent comme quivalents deux gotextiles ayant la mme ouverture de filtration, quand bien mme ces deux gotextiles auraient de grandes diffrences en ce qui concerne dautres caractristiques susceptibles davoir une influence sur leur comportement en tant que filtre. Par exemple, un tiss mince et un nontiss pais sont considrs comme quivalents, selon les critres de rtention actuels, sils ont la mme ouverture de filtration. Il est clair quil y a l matire recherche et lon peut prvoir, daprs les rsultats encourageants des travaux en cours, quun jour on disposera de critres de rtention sophistiqus qui tiendront compte de plusieurs paramtres importants relatifs au filtre gotextile aussi bien que les critres de rtention actuels prennent en compte plusieurs paramtres importants relatifs au sol. Pour pouvoir amliorer les critres de rtention actuels, il faut des connaissances approfondies sur la filtration par gotextiles. Il est donc intressant de prsenter, dans les paragraphes qui suivent, certaines connaissances rcemment acquises sur le fonctionnement et la structure des filtres gotextiles. Ces connaissances permettent notamment: (1) de mieux comprendre le mcanisme de filtration des particules de sol par les filtres gotextiles (Paragraphes 4.2 4.5); et (2) de mettre en vidence les paramtres de structure des filtres gotextiles qui ont une influence sur louverture de filtration (Paragraphe 4.6). 4.2 Caractrisation de la structure des filtres gotextiles: constrictions et ouvertures La caractrisation de la structure des filtres gotextiles sera prsente en utilisant lexemple des gotextiles nontisss. Les concepts ainsi dfinis stendront aisment au cas des gotextiles tisss qui est plus simple. Pour passer travers un filtre gotextile nontiss, une particule doit passer entre les fibres. On dfinit une constriction comme tant le passage dlimit par trois fibres ou plus (Figure 8a) et la dimension dune constriction comme le diamtre de la sphre qui passe juste travers la constriction (Figure 8b). Si lon considre un bloc de matriau nontiss (cest--dire un chantillon tridimensionnel, non pas un chantillon bidimensionnel comme un gotextile), et si ce bloc est assez grand pour tre reprsentatif, il contient un ensemble reprsentatif des constrictions qui existent dans le matriau nontiss considr. Cet ensemble de constrictions est reprsent par une courbe de distribution des constrictions (Figure 8c). La dimension de la plus petite constriction est dsigne par C0 et celle de la plus grande par C100 . On pourrait argumenter que la dimension de la plus petite constriction est C0 = 0 car il y a toujours la possibilit que trois fibres se rencontrent en un mme point, dlimitant ainsi un passage de dimension nulle. Cependant, du point de vue de la filtration, les constrictions de dimension nulle ou trs petite ne doivent pas tre considres car une particule rencontrant une telle constriction ne sera pas arrte mais seulement dvie vers une constriction de dimension non nulle. (Les particules ne sont pas tenues de suivre un parcours absolument rectiligne et choisissent naturellement le parcours de moindre rsistance.) Une particule de sol qui se dplace travers un filtre gotextile nontiss emprunte un chemin de filtration (Figure 9a) dont le parcours quelque peu tortueux suit en gros une direction perpendiculaire au plan du gotextile. La particule considre se dplace travers le gotextile jusqu ce quelle rencontre une constriction qui est plus petite quelle et qui, par consquent, larrte. Bien entendu, si la particule considre nest pas arrte par une constriction, elle passe travers le gotextile. Un filtre comprend une multitude de chemins de filtration, et ces chemins sont tous diffrents. Une particule donne peut tre arrte dans un certain chemin de filtration et peut passer travers le filtre en suivant un autre chemin. Dans chaque chemin de filtration, il y a une constriction plus petite que les autres: cest elle qui dtermine la dimension des particules qui peuvent traverser le gotextile par ce chemin et on lappelle la constriction critique de ce chemin. Dans un chemin de filtration donn, la dimension de la constriction critique est louverture du chemin de filtration; en dautres termes, cest la dimension de la plus grosse particule qui peut traverser le filtre gotextile en empruntant le chemin de filtration considr. Dans un filtre gotextile nontiss, il y a une multitude de chemins de filtration, chacun tant caractris par son ouverture. Par consquent, un filtre gotextile est caractris par une courbe de distribution des ouvertures (Figure 9b). La dimension de la plus petite ouverture est dsigne par O0 et celle de la plus grande par O100 . La courbe de distribution des ouvertures est une caractristique du gotextile et, en particulier, la plus grande ouverture est appele louverture de filtration du gotextile ou simplement

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louverture du gotextile. Autrement dit, louverture dun gotextile est louverture du chemin de filtration qui a la plus grande ouverture dans ce gotextile. 4.3 Relation entre constrictions et ouvertures pour diffrents types de filtres gotextiles Il est important de noter que la courbe de distribution des constrictions est une caractristique intrinsque du matriau qui constitue un gotextile alors que la courbe de distribution des ouvertures est une caractristique du gotextile. La relation entre la courbe de distribution des constrictions du matriau qui constitue un gotextile et la courbe de distribution des ouvertures de ce gotextile dpend de lpaisseur du gotextile. Pour tablir la relation entre ces deux types de courbes, considrons trois gotextiles nontisss dpaisseurs diffrentes, mais fabriqus laide du mme matriau nontiss: deux cas extrmes seront considrs en premier lieu, le cas dun gotextile nontiss dpaisseur nulle et le cas dun gotextile nontiss dpaisseur infinie; puis le cas dun gotextile nontiss dpaisseur finie sera considr. Considrons dabord un gotextile nontiss hypothtique infiniment mince. Dans ce gotextile, chaque chemin de filtration na quune constriction. Par consquent, louverture de chaque chemin de filtration est gale la dimension de lunique constriction de ce chemin de filtration. Il en rsulte que, dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss hypothtique infiniment mince, la courbe de distribution des ouvertures est identique la courbe de distribution des constrictions (Figure 10a, courbe 4). Considrons ensuite le cas dun gotextile nontiss hypothtique infiniment pais. Dans ce gotextile, chaque chemin de filtration contient un nombre infini de constrictions. Par consquent, avec ce gotextile, il y a une probabilit de 100% pour que toutes les dimensions de constrictions se trouvent prsentes dans chaque chemin de filtration. Par consquent, chaque chemin de filtration contient la plus petite constriction, C0 . Lorsquun chemin de filtration contient la plus petite constriction, celle-ci est bien entendu la constriction critique. Donc, dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss hypothtique infiniment pais, tous les chemins de filtration ont la mme constriction critique, cest-dire la mme ouverture (O0 = On = O100 = Cn ). Par consquent, la courbe de distribution des ouvertures de ce gotextile est une ligne verticale (Figure 10a, courbe 1). Autrement dit, dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss hypothtique infiniment pais, tous les chemins de filtration ont la mme ouverture qui est louverture du gotextile. Considrons enfin le cas dun gotextile nontiss dpaisseur finie. Un calcul lmentaire montre que, dans un gotextile nontiss typique, le nombre de chemins de filtration est suprieur 100/cm2. Donc, si lon considre un chantillon suffisamment grand pour tre reprsentatif, il contient un nombre trs grand (quasi infini) de chemins de filtration. La probabilit pour que lun deux au moins contienne la plus petite constriction est quasiment 100%. Quand un chemin de filtration contient la plus petite constriction, celle-ci est, bien entendu, la constriction critique, cest--dire louverture du chemin de filtration. Le chemin de filtration qui a une ouverture gale la dimension de la plus petite constriction est videmment le chemin de filtration qui a louverture la plus petite. Autrement dit, O0 = C0 . Dans un chemin de filtration donn, le nombre de constrictions, dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss typique, nest pas trs grand (par exemple, de 10 50). Par consquent, la probabilit pour que la plus petite constriction soit prsente dans tous les chemins de filtration est bien infrieure 100%. Il en rsulte quun certain nombre de chemins de filtration ont une constriction critique (cest--dire une ouverture) plus grande que C0 . La plus grande valeur que peut avoir une constriction est C100 , donc la plus grande valeur que peut avoir une ouverture est C100 . Cependant, pour quun chemin de filtration ait une telle ouverture, il faudrait que toutes les constrictions de ce chemin de filtration soient gales C100 . Mais, dans un chemin de filtration donn, la probabilit pour que toutes les constrictions soient gales C100 est quasi nulle. Par consquent, louverture maximale que peut avoir un chemin de filtration (cest--dire louverture maximale du filtre) est infrieure la constriction maximale (O100 < C100 ). La relation ainsi dmontre entre la courbe de distribution des constrictions et la courbe de distribution des ouvertures dun gotextile nontiss dpaisseur finie est illustre par la Figure 10b. La courbe de distribution des ouvertures dun gotextile nontiss dpaisseur finie est galement illustre dans la Figure 10a par deux courbes correspondant deux gotextiles dpaisseur diffrentes, lun plus pais (courbe 2), lautre plus mince (courbe 3). Enfin, il est important de noter que, dans la Figure 10a, la courbe 4 qui est la courbe de distribution des ouvertures pour le gotextile nontiss infiniment mince est galement la courbe de distribution des constrictions commune aux quatre gotextiles nontisss. Le cas dun gotextile tiss est analogue celui dun gotextile nontiss infiniment mince: puisquil ne contient quune constriction par chemin de filtration, la courbe de distribution des ouvertures est identique la courbe de distribution des constrictions. Il y a cependant une grande diffrence entre les deux matriaux: la courbe de distribution des constrictions/ouvertures dun tiss (Figure 11a) est verticale (tiss idal o toutes les ouvertures sont rigoureusement identiques) ou quasi verticale (tiss rel) tandis que celle dun nontiss infiniment mince (Figure 10a, courbe 4) traduit, par son inclinaison, la varit de dimensions de constrictions et douvertures dans un nontiss. Dun point de vue didactique, il est intressant de comparer un gotextile nontiss trs pais et un gotextile tiss. Tous deux ont une courbe de distribution des ouvertures presque verticale (Figure 12a pour le nontiss et Figure 11a pour le tiss) et lon peut supposer, titre dexemple, que ces deux gotextiles ont la
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mme courbe de distribution des ouvertures, et par consquent la mme ouverture de filtration. Il est trs important de remarquer que, bien qutant caractriss par la mme ouverture de filtration, ces deux gotextiles retiennent les particules de sol de faon diffrente. En effet, lorsquune particule est retenue par le filtre, elle est retenue la surface du filtre dans le cas dun gotextile tiss (Figure 11b), tandis que, dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss, la particule est retenue, dans le filtre, un certain niveau qui dpend du chemin de filtration (Figure 12b). On voit donc que deux filtres gotextiles ayant non seulement la mme ouverture, mais aussi la mme courbe de distribution des ouvertures, peuvent donner lieu des mcanismes de filtration diffrents: ceci est d au fait que ces deux gotextiles ont des courbes de distribution des constrictions trs diffrentes, courbe verticale ou quasi verticale pour le tiss (Figure 11a) et courbe trs incline pour le nontiss (Figure 12a). Les critres de rtention actuels ne tiennent compte que de louverture du filtre gotextile. On peut conclure des discussions qui prcdent quun critre de rtention idal devrait tenir compte de la courbe de distribution des ouvertures (au lieu de seulement tenir compte de louverture du gotextile qui nest que la plus grandes des ouvertures dun gotextile considr) ainsi que de la courbe de distribution des constrictions. Actuellement, un tel critre nexiste pas. On peut cependant utiliser les courbes de distribution des constrictions et des ouvertures pour analyser qualitativement le mcanisme de filtration et en tirer des enseignements utiles, comme cela est montr dans le paragraphe suivant. 4.4 Analyse du mcanisme de filtration considrant la structure des filtres gotextiles Considrons les deux courbes dfinies au Paragraphe 4.2 qui reprsentent la structure des filtres gotextiles, la courbe de distribution des constrictions (qui caractrise le matriau dont est fait le gotextile) et la courbe de distribution des ouvertures (qui caractrise le gotextile). Ces deux courbes sont des courbes de probabilits cumules. Ainsi, la courbe de distribution des constrictions donne la probabilit, PC , pour quune particule de dimension d soit retenue la surface du gotextile et, corrlativement, la probabilit, 1 PC , pour que la particule ne soit pas retenue la surface du gotextile (Figure 13). Les particules qui ne sont pas retenues la surface du gotextile soit sont retenues dans le gotextile soit passent travers le gotextile, et cest la courbe de distribution des ouvertures qui permet de distinguer entre ces deux possibilits: la courbe de distribution des ouvertures donne la probabilit, PO , pour quune particule de dimension d soit retenue dans ou sur le gotextile et, corrlativement, la probabilit, 1 PO , pour que la particule ne soit pas retenue, c'est--dire passe travers le gotextile (Figure 13). Ainsi, les probabilits suivantes peuvent tre dfinies: probabilit pour quune particule passe travers le gotextile, PPASS = 1PO ; probabilit pour quune particule soit retenue dans le gotextile, PIN = PO PC ; probabilit pour quune particule soit retenue sur le gotextile, PON = PC ; et probabilit pour quune particule soit retenue dans ou sur le gotextile, PRETAIN = PO = PON + PIN . Quatre cas peuvent tre considrs selon la faon dont la dimension, d , de la particule se situe par rapport aux points qui reprsentent les extrmits des deux courbes, O0 , O100 , C0 , C100 : (1) si d > C100 , la particule est retenue la surface du gotextile parce que, dans ce cas, il ny a pas de constriction plus grande que d (PRETAIN = PON = 1 = 100%, PPASS = 0); (2) si O100 < d < C100 , la particule ne passe pas travers le gotextile parce quil ny a pas de chemin de filtration avec une ouverture plus grande que d et la particule ou bien reste la surface du gotextile ou bien pntre dans le gotextile jusqu ce quelle rencontre une constriction qui larrte (PRETAIN = PON + PIN = 1 = 100%, PPASS = 0); (3) si O0 < d < O100 , la particule a les trois possibilits, elle peut tre retenue sur ou dans le gotextile ou elle peut passer travers le gotextile (PON + PIN + PPASS = 1 = 100%); et (4) si d < O0 , la particule passe travers le gotextile (PRETAIN = 0, PPASS = 1 = 100%). 4.5 Utilisation des courbes pour comparer les modes de rtention par diffrents gotextiles On peut utiliser les probabilits mentionnes ci-dessus et illustres par la Figure 13 pour comparer le mode de rtention dune particule par diffrents gotextiles. Pour faire cette comparaison rationnellement, il ne faut pas oublier que la rtention est un mcanisme complexe qui comprend la rtention des particules du squelette et la non-rtention des particules fines (voir Paragraphe 3.1). Par consquent, pour faire cette comparaison, on considrera deux particules: une particule fine de dimension df et une particule du squelette de dimension ds . Pour tenir compte du pontage effectu par les particules du squelette au dessus des ouvertures du filtre (Figure 5b), la dimension des particules du squelette sera multiplie par un facteur suprieur 1 (do une dimension corrige ds). Deux gotextiles nontisss, lun fin et lautre pais, sont compars sur la Figure 14. Pour les besoins de la comparaison, on suppose que ces deux gotextiles ont la mme ouverture de filtration, O100 . Il sagit dune situation typique dans laquelle se trouve le concepteur amen choisir entre deux gotextiles apparemment quivalents du point de vue de la filtration. ( Il est important de noter que deux gotextiles ayant des paisseurs diffrentes ne peuvent avoir la mme ouverture de filtration, O100 , que si leurs courbes de distribution des constrictions sont diffrentes, c'est--dire sils sont constitus de deux matriaux diffrents.

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Ceci sera discut plus en dtail au Paragraphe 4.6.) On voit sur la Figure 14 quune particule de dimension ds telle que sa dimension corrige est suprieure louverture de filtration (ds > O100 ) est: (1) plus susceptible dtre retenue sur le gotextile dans le cas dun nontiss mince que dans le cas dun nontiss pais; et (2) corrlativement plus susceptible dtre retenue dans le gotextile dans le cas dun nontiss pais que dans le cas dun nontiss mince. En ce qui concerne la particule fine (df ) on voit sur la Figure 14 quelle a une plus grande probabilit dtre retenue dans le cas du nontiss mince que dans le cas du nontiss pais (les deux gotextiles ayant la mme ouverture de filtration, O100 ). Cependant, si une particule est plus petite que la plus petite ouverture (c'est--dire la plus petite des deux valeurs de O0 ) elle a une probabilit de 100% de passer travers les deux gotextiles. Le concepteur qui utilise la mthode dcrite ci-dessus, et illustre par la Figure 14, doit valuer les consquences des modes de rtention identifis. titre indicatif, on peut faire les commentaires suivants: (1) comme cela a t indiqu au Paragraphe 3.1, le filtre doit empcher les particules du squelette de se dplacer; cette exigence est mieux satisfaite si les particules du squelette sont retenues sur le filtre que dans le filtre; on voit sur la Figure 14 que cette exigence a plus de chances dtre satisfaite par un gotextile fin que par un gotextile pais (si les deux gotextiles ont la mme ouverture de filtration); et (2) comme cela a galement t indiqu au Paragraphe 3.1, certaines particules plus petites que les particules du squelette doivent passer travers le gotextile; on voit sur la Figure 14 que cette exigence a plus de chances dtre satisfaite par un gotextile pais que par un gotextile fin (si les deux gotextiles ont la mme ouverture de filtration) en ce qui concerne les particules de dimension comprise entre le plus petit des deux O0 et O100 ; cependant, si la dimension de la particule fine est infrieure au plus petit des deux O0 , les deux gotextiles sont quivalents. La mthode illustre par la Figure 14 peut tre tendue au cas o la dimension des particules du squelette varie entre deux limites connues. (Ceci est le cas lorsque la granulomtrie du sol varie dun point un autre, par exemple suivant la direction longitudinale de louvrage dans lequel on envisage dutiliser le filtre considr.) Ce cas est illustr par la Figure 15 qui montre que les diffrentes probabilits de rtention sont proportionnelles aux aires dlimites par les axes et les deux courbes, la courbe de distribution des constrictions et la courbe de distribution des ouvertures. La Figure 15a illustre le cas o le domaine de variation des dimensions des particules du squelette comprend uniquement des dimensions suprieures louverture de filtration du filtre considr (ds > O100 ). Comme on la indiqu plus haut, propos de la Figure 14, dans ce cas, les particules du squelette sont alors plus susceptibles dtre retenues sur le gotextile dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss mince que dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss pais. La Figure 15b illustre le cas o le domaine de variation des dimensions des particules du squelette comprend des dimensions infrieures louverture de filtration du filtre considr (ds < O100 ). Il apparat que, dans ce cas, la quantit de particules susceptibles de passer travers le filtre est plus grande dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss pais que fin. La mthode illustre par les Figures 14 et 15 peut galement tre utilise pour les gotextiles tisss. Dans le cas dun gotextile tiss, la courbe de distribution des constrictions et la courbe de distribution des ouvertures sont identiques et, par consquent, PRETAIN = PON . De plus, la courbe de distribution des constrictions/ouvertures est presque verticale et, par consquent, si les particules du squelette sont plus petites que louverture de filtration, O100 , elles ont de grandes chances de passer travers le gotextile. Ainsi, un filtre gotextile tiss est plus sensible quun nontiss aux variations de la granulomtrie du sol. Les discussions qui prcdent montrent que la combinaison de la courbe de distribution des constrictions et de la courbe de distribution des ouvertures fournit une mthode utile au concepteur de filtre. Seulement quelques exemples dutilisation de cette mthode ont t prsents; dautres peuvent tre envisags. Sur la base des exemples prsents, il apparat quil y a certains avantages utiliser des gotextiles nontisss fins. Cependant, il faut noter que les exemples ci dessus ne sont que qualitatifs. Pour effectivement utiliser la mthode prsente ci dessus, il faut disposer de donnes quantitatives sur la courbe de distribution des constrictions et la courbe de distribution des ouvertures. Ce point est abord dans le paragraphe suivant. 4.6 Paramtres de structure influant sur louverture des filtres gotextiles nontisss Un modle thorique de la structure des gotextiles nontisss (Giroud, 1996) a permis dtablir un graphique donnant des relations entre les paramtres suivants: louverture de filtration, lpaisseur du filtre gotextile, le diamtre des fibres et la porosit du gotextile (Figure 16). Ce graphique est en bon accord avec les rsultats de nombreuses mesures effectues sur des filtres gotextiles nontisss (Giroud, 1996). Ce graphique donne galement une valeur approche du nombre moyen de constrictions quune particule doit franchir pour traverser un filtre gotextile. Le graphique montre que, pour matriau nontiss caractris par sa porosit, les ouvertures de filtration de gotextiles de diffrentes paisseurs fabriqus avec ce mme matriau nontiss dcroissent lorsque lon considre des paisseurs croissantes (courbes en trait plein sur la Figure 16). Le graphique montre galement que : (1) le taux de dcroissance de louverture de filtration en fonction de lpaisseur du gotextile devient trs faible (en dautres termes, les ouvertures de filtration sapprochent dun palier) lorsque
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lpaisseur du filtre gotextile est telle que le nombre moyen de constrictions atteint approximativement 25 (ce qui correspond un rapport paisseur du gotextile/diamtre de fibres de 80 pour une porosit de 0.9); et (2) pour des valeurs du nombre moyen de constrictions infrieur approximativement 15 (ce qui correspond un rapport paisseur du gotextile/diamtre de fibres de 50 pour une porosit de 0.9) louverture de filtration devient extrmement grande ce qui indique que les valeurs des ouvertures du filtre (qui correspondent diffrents chemins de filtration ) sont trs disperses et que, par consquent, le filtre est trs htrogne. (Ceci est en accord avec les comparaisons entre les gotextiles minces et pais prsentes au Paragraphe 4.5.) Sur la base de ces deux rsultats, on peut conclure que, dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss: (1) une paisseur suprieure 80 fois le diamtre des fibres (pour une porosit typique de 0.9) ne semble pas apporter davantage apprciable en ce qui concerne les caractristiques du gotextile importantes pour la filtration ; et (2) une paisseur infrieure 50 fois le diamtre des fibres (pour une porosit typique de 0.9) est dconseille car le gotextile possde alors des caractristiques de filtration qui peuvent tre htrognes. Le graphique donne galement une mthode simple pour valuer la diminution de louverture de filtration dun filtre gotextile nontiss due une rduction dpaisseur rsultant dune contrainte de compression (courbes en tirets sur la Figure 16). Ceci constitue un outil trs utile pour la conception dun filtre. Finalement, il est intressant de constater que les asymptotes horizontales des courbes en trait plein de la Figure 16 correspondent au cas dun gotextile nontiss hypothtique infiniment pais utilis dans les dmonstrations prsentes dans le Paragraphe 4.3. Par consquent, la valeur douverture de filtration qui correspond lasymptote horizontale pour chacune des courbes en trait plein de la Figure 16 constitue une valeur thorique de la plus petite constriction et de la plus petite ouverture pour la valeur de porosit correspondant la courbe. Des recherches sont en cours pour dvelopper une mthode pour mesurer la dimension des constrictions des gotextiles nontisss. Il sera intressant de voir si les valeurs mesures sont en bon accord avec celles de la Figure 16. Dautre part, le graphique ne fournit pas dinformation sur la dimension des plus grandes constrictions car le modle thorique utilis nest pas valable pour les trs faibles valeurs du rapport paisseur du gotextile/diamtre des fibres (par exemple, tGT /df < 10). 4.7 Conclusions concernant les caractristiques des filtres Les informations fournies dans la Section 4 montrent que des progrs considrables ont t accomplis ces dernires annes en ce qui concerne la comprhension du phnomne de filtration par gotextiles et la connaissance de la structure des gotextiles nontisss. Bien que des recherches complmentaires soient encore ncessaires, il est bon de donner la possibilit aux praticiens dutiliser les rsultats acquis. On a vu dans la Section 4 que, pour bien comprendre les mcanismes de filtration, il fallait faire appel lentire courbe de distribution des ouvertures, et non pas seulement louverture de filtration, et quil fallait galement faire appel la courbe de distribution des constrictions. Les approches de conception de filtres bases sur ces courbes souffrent pour le moment dune insuffisance de donnes quantitatives; cependant les exemples dutilisation de ces approches prsents dans la Section 4 montrent que lon peut dj les utiliser pour choisir entre deux types de gotextiles qui, sur la base des critres actuels, sont considrs comme quivalents. En ce qui concerne la structure des gotextiles nontisss, le graphique de la Figure 16 fournit une grande quantit dinformations utiles aux producteurs de gotextiles comme aux concepteurs douvrages. Les producteurs noteront, en particulier, linfluence de paramtres comme le diamtre des fibres, la porosit du matriau nontiss et lpaisseur du gotextile sur louverture de filtration, ce qui leur permettra dajuster leurs paramtres de production pour rpondre certaines spcifications de filtres gotextiles. Les concepteurs noteront, en particulier, laisance avec laquelle le graphique de la Figure 16 leur permet de prvoir louverture dun filtre gotextile nontiss enfoui et comprim sous des dizaines de mtres de sol. Lpaisseur des filtres gotextiles nontisss est une importante question. Linformation fournie par la Section 4 peut se rsumer en deux points: (1) daprs les donnes prsentes sur la structure des gotextiles nontisss il apparat quil nest pas souhaitable dutiliser comme filtre un gotextile nontiss dont lpaisseur est infrieure 50 fois le diamtre des fibres et quune paisseur suprieure 80 fois le diamtre des fibres ne semble pas apporter davantage apprciable; et (2) lanalyse du mcanisme de filtration ralise en associant la courbe de distribution des constrictions et la courbe de distribution des ouvertures montre de faon qualitative que, dans des cas pratiques typiques, un nontiss mince peut tre plus avantageux quun nontiss plus pais (un point qui doit faire lobjet dtudes plus approfondies, notamment laide donnes quantitatives supplmentaires sur la structure des gotextiles nontisss). En combinant les deux points cidessus, la conclusion qui semble se dgager (en attendant des tudes plus approfondies) est que, dans certains cas typiques, un filtre gotextile nontiss dont lpaisseur est entre 50 et 80 fois le diamtre des fibres est un choix dfendable.

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5 CONDITIONS DE SUCCES DES FILTRES GEOTEXTILES DANS LEURS APPLICATIONS 5.1 Un dimensionnement adquat est ncessaire mais nest pas suffisant Les Sections 3 et 4 prsentent des mthodes prouves et fournissent des informations nouvelles qui permettent lingnieur deffectuer un dimensionnement fiable des filtres gotextiles. Cependant, il est important de comprendre quun dimensionnement excut comme un exercice abstrait qui consisterait uniquement mettre en oeuvre les mthodes prsentes dans les Sections 3 et 4 serait insuffisant pour au moins trois raisons. Premirement, il y a gnralement plusieurs options possibles pour dimensionner un filtre et, il faut valuer limpact de loption choisie sur louvrage dans lequel le filtre sera utilis. Deuximement, un filtre gotextile doit tre mis en place correctement et cela est plus subtil quil ny parat premire vue. Troisimement, un filtre gotextile doit rsister une varit de sollicitations physiques, mcaniques et chimiques, au cours de son installation et en service, pour pouvoir assurer sa fonction jusqu la fin de la dure de service de louvrage. En dveloppant les trois points ci-dessus, les paragraphes suivants montrent que lon a aujourdhui une vision claire de ce qui fait le succs dun filtre gotextile non seulement sur le papier, mais aussi sur le terrain, et non seulement le jour o lon conoit louvrage, mais aussi pendant toute la dure de service. 5.2 Le filtre gotextile dans louvrage qui lenvironne Un filtre nest jamais seul. Il est toujours situ entre deux matriaux qui eux-mmes font partie dun ouvrage. La conception dun systme de filtration ne peut se faire correctement que si les interactions entre le filtre et les matriaux adjacents ainsi quentre le filtre et louvrage sont prises en compte. Plusieurs aspects doivent tre considrs: (1) les problmes potentiels poss par les sols situs lamont du filtre; (2) les conditions imposes par les matriaux situs laval du filtre; (3) les problmes susceptibles de rsulter de changements de caractristiques des sols dans la direction longitudinale de louvrage; et, enfin, (4) les effets nfastes que pourraient avoir la prsence dun filtre gotextile sur le comportement de louvrage. Ces quatre aspects sont discuts ci-dessous. Les sols situs lamont du filtre sont susceptibles de poser des problmes trs srieux comme cela a t discut la Section 2. En rsum: (1) il y a des sols instabilit interne qui empchent le bon fonctionnement de tout filtre; (2) il est donc important de ne pas placer de filtres en prsence de ces sols, au besoin en utilisant dautres sols ou en changeant la conception de louvrage o le filtre doit tre utilis; et (3) lon dispose aujourdhui de mthodes pour identifier ces sols, ce qui fait quil est possible dviter les problmes quils peuvent poser. Il est important que ce message soit reu et compris non seulement par les concepteurs, mais aussi par les entrepreneurs. Il faut se rappeler, en effet, lexcs de zle, dcrit au Paragraphe 2.1, de lentrepreneur qui croyait bien faire en ajoutant un gotextile. Il faut sassurer que les entrepreneurs soient bien informs des consquences nfastes que peuvent avoir les gotextiles qui ne sont pas leur place. Cette information permettra aux entrepreneurs de comprendre quil nest pas question de tenter sur le terrain dapporter des amliorations la conception qui ne sont pas approuves par le concepteur, surtout si ces amliorations sont inspires par le bon sens qui est dj responsable de bien assez derreurs. Les sols ou autre matriaux situs laval du filtre, sils ne sont pas, en gnral, susceptibles de poser des problmes pour le fonctionnement du filtre aussi srieux que ceux poss par les sols situs lamont, sont cependant souvent en mesure dimposer des conditions qui peuvent influer sur le choix du filtre. Par exemple, si le matriau drainant situ immdiatement laval du filtre est un gosynthtique du type treillis (ou analogue), cest--dire un matriau mince (en comparaison dune couche de gravier), et si le sol situ lamont contient des particules fines susceptibles de migrer, il est essentiel que le filtre ne laisse pas passer beaucoup de particules fines car le gosynthtique drainant, du fait de sa minceur, na pas besoin de beaucoup de fines pour se colmater. Dans un tel cas, la meilleure solution est, si cela est possible, de recommander que le sol situ lamont du filtre soit remplac par un sol qui ne contienne pas de fines susceptibles de migrer. Si cela nest pas possible, lingnieur qui conoit le systme de filtration peut: soit (1) remplacer le gosynthtique drainant par une couche de gravier (suffisamment paisse pour contenir, sans perte de transmissivit apprciable, toutes les particules fines susceptibles de migrer en provenance du sol amont) ou par un tuyau perfor que lon peut nettoyer; soit (2) choisir un filtre qui arrte un grand nombre de particules fines (et, par consquent, a tendance se colmater) pour protger le gosynthtique drainant. Cette dernire solution nest possible que si lingnieur a dtermin que le colmatage du filtre (du moins un colmatage partiel) tait acceptable (cest--dire ne risquerait pas dentraner de consquence inacceptable pour louvrage). Bien entendu, la discussion ci-dessus nest applicable que si le sol situ lamont du filtre contient des fines susceptibles de se dplacer; dans les autres cas, un gosynthtique drainant constitue une solution viable. Une autre condition impose par un gosynthtique drainant est que le filtre ne soit pas trop pais et compressible pour ne pas pntrer, sous leffet des contraintes normales, de faon significative dans les creux du gosynthtique drainant afin de maintenir la transmissivit hydraulique de ce dernier un niveau acceptable. Cette condition sur lpaisseur et la compressibilit du filtre est, dans de nombreux cas
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pratiques, en conflit avec dautres considrations relatives au choix du filtre gotextile; dans de tels cas, lingnieur doit faire un choix ou un compromis. Un autre exemple de matriau situ laval du filtre est celui des tuyaux perfors: dans les cas o un filtre gotextile est requis autour dun tel tuyau, le gotextile choisi doit avoir une transmissivit suffisante pour conduire leau vers les perforations du tuyau. Ces nombreux exemples montrent quil est important, lors de la conception dun systme de filtration, de tenir compte du matriau situ laval du filtre. Le sol situ en amont dun filtre peut avoir des caractristiques qui changent le long de la direction longitudinale de louvrage: cest un point important que lon a tendance oublier car, lorsque lon fait la conception dun systme de filtration, on considre en gnral une section transversale de louvrage sans se proccuper de ce qui se passe dans lautre direction. Le problme de la variation des caractristiques du sol dans la direction longitudinale se pose dans de nombreux cas de systmes de filtration situs dans des terrains naturels comme les drains routiers et les protections de berges. Pour des raisons pratiques, il est prfrable de ne spcifier quun type de filtre pour un systme de filtration donn, moins que les caractristiques du sol ne varient de faon excessive dun point un autre. Comme on la montr au Paragraphe 4.5, on peut utiliser les mthodes dcrites dans cette communication pour choisir un type de filtre gotextile qui aura plus de chances quun autre de fonctionner de faon satisfaisante en dpit de variations des caractristiques du sol dans certaines limites. Les effets nfastes que pourraient avoir la prsence dun filtre gotextile sur le comportement de louvrage doivent tre considrs avec soin. En particulier, il faut valuer les consquences que pourraient avoir un dysfonctionnement, mme lger, du filtre. Par exemple, une diminution de permabilit du filtre due au colmatage naura pas les mmes consquences dans un barrage et dans un ouvrage de stockage de dchets. Par ailleurs, il ne faut pas oublier que tout gosynthtique qui remplit, de faon satisfaisante ou non, une fonction quelconque (filtration, par exemple) dans un ouvrage peut avoir un effet nuisible sur certains aspects du comportement de louvrage qui sont trangers la fonction quil remplit. Par exemple, un filtre gotextile peut constituer une surface de glissement potentielle susceptible de diminuer dangereusement le facteur de scurit concernant la stabilit dun ouvrage. Il est donc essentiel que ces problmes potentiels soient prsents lesprit des concepteurs de systmes de filtration: on doit non seulement viter, lors de la conception, les situations dangereuses o ces problmes pourraient se produire, mais on doit aussi, ce qui est plus subtil et requiert de la part des concepteurs une exprience de chantier, rdiger des spcifications qui dcouragent les excs de zle des entrepreneurs. En effet, on a vu des entrepreneurs tendre des gotextiles au del de la limite spcifie croyant bien faire en laissant, au lieu de la couper, une longueur excessive de gotextile la fin dun rouleau sans imaginer que, ce faisant, ils craient un problme affectant le comportement de louvrage. 5.3 Une mauvaise installation peut empcher le meilleur filtre gotextile de fonctionner Une des raisons du succs des filtres gotextiles est, on le sait pour lavoir entendu souvent, la facilit dinstallation. En effet, les exemples ne manquent pas: installer un filtre granulaire sur une pente raide est difficile, voire impossible, tandis quinstaller un filtre gotextile est si facile; installer un filtre en sable dans une tranche drainante en gravier est quasiment impossible, tandis quinstaller un filtre gotextile est si facile; placer un filtre granulaire contre un gosynthtique drainant est absurde car il faudrait un filtre gradu dont lpaisseur et la capacit drainante excderaient celles du gosynthtique drainant, tandis quinstaller un filtre gotextile contre un gosynthtique drainant est si facile. Qui aurait pens, il y a quarante ans, quinstaller un produit synthtique deviendrait si naturel ? On a galement lou juste titre le fait que les gotextiles ont des caractristiques plus constantes que celles des matriaux granulaires du fait des mthodes modernes de contrle de qualit utilises lors de la fabrication des gotextiles: on a pu en conclure logiquement que les gotextiles sont des filtres plus fiables que les matriaux granulaires, une importante conclusion quand on sait combien la fiabilit est essentielle en matire de filtration. Il est clair que les filtres gotextiles sont gnralement faciles installer. Cependant, il est essentiel que linstallation soit telle que le filtre gotextile puisse jouer les deux rles fondamentaux quimplique sa fonction (voir Paragraphe 1.2): le gotextile doit tre install de faon telle quil laisse passer leau et quil retienne le sol. En premier lieu, un filtre gotextile ne doit pas subir de rduction de permabilit en cours dinstallation. Pour cela, il doit tre stock et mis en place labri de la poussire et, surtout, de la boue. On peut galement choisir un filtre gotextile qui sera dcolmat relativement facilement par le premier courant deau qui le traversera sil a t colmat par de la poussire ou de la boue en cours dinstallation: des recherches sont en cours ce sujet (Artires et Faure, 1997). En second lieu, le filtre gotextile doit tre plac de faon telle quil assure la rtention du sol, un important point qui fait lobjet de la discussion qui suit. Comme on la vu au Paragraphe 3.1, pour assurer la rtention dun sol, un filtre doit empcher les particules qui constituent le squelette du sol de se dplacer et, comme on la vu au Paragraphe 2.1, un filtre dans un ouvrage de gotechnique ne doit jamais tre dans une situation o il arrte des particules en mouvement. Pour ces deux raisons, il est vident que le filtre doit tre en contact intime avec le sol, ce que lauteur de cette communication a toujours recommand (Giroud, 1982b; 1989). On ne saurait trop insister sur ce point
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qui est absolument essentiel. Deux cas doivent tre considrs selon que le filtre est mis en place avant ou aprs le sol situ lamont. Si le filtre gotextile est mis en place dabord, le sol doit tre compact sur ou contre le filtre, ce qui est facile mais doit tre excut avec grand soin pour ne pas endommager le gotextile. Si le filtre gotextile est mis en place aprs le sol, ce qui est bien entendu le cas si le sol est le sol naturel, la mise en place du filtre gotextile doit tre faite avec grand soin pour assurer un contact intime entre le gotextile et le sol. Deux conditions doivent alors tre respectes: (1) le filtre gotextile doit tre suffisamment souple pour sadapter aux irrgularits de la surface du sol et les dformations du gotextile requises pour permettre ladaptation la surface du sol ne doivent affecter les ouvertures du filtre que de faon ngligeable; et (2) le matriau situ en aval du filtre gotextile doit exercer sur ce dernier une contrainte de compression leve et uniforme pour presser le gotextile contre le sol. Dans le cas dune tranche, un gravier de petite dimension (par exemple 20 mm ou moins) convient en gnral (Figure 17a) pourvu que le gotextile soit souple, tandis quun gros gravier (Figure 17b) et lme rigide dun drain gocomposite (Figure 17c) ne conviennent pas en gnral (parce quils nexercent pas une contrainte de compression uniforme). Dans le cas dune protection de berge, il est recommand de placer une couche de gravier (Figure 18) sur le filtre gotextile pour exercer une contrainte uniforme afin dassurer le contact intime entre le gotextile et le sol. Cette couche de gravier a galement le mrite de protger le gotextile contre lendommagement mcanique pendant la pose des blocs et contre le rayonnement ultraviolet passant entre les blocs. Il est possible quun filtre soit ncessaire entre la couche de gravier et les blocs pour empcher le gravier dtre lessiv entre les blocs par laction des vagues (Figure 18). Bien entendu la condition de contact intime avec le sol implique que le filtre gotextile soit continu, cest-dire nait pas de trous: ceci impose que le filtre gotextile soit mis en place avec des recouvrements suffisants et suffisamment bien conus pour ne pas souvrir pendant la construction ou ensuite sous leffet de dformations dues aux charges appliques; ceci impose galement que le filtre gotextile rsiste aux sollicitations mcaniques, physiques et chimiques qui pourraient lendommager, ce qui est discut au paragraphe suivant. 5.4 Le filtre gotextile doit rsister aux sollicitations susceptibles de lendommager ou de le dformer Un filtre gotextile doit rsister une varit de sollicitations mcaniques, physiques et chimiques qui peuvent avoir deux types deffets nfastes: (1) elles peuvent endommager le filtre gotextile; et/ou (2) elles peuvent dformer le filtre gotextile, ce qui peut causer une modification de ses ouvertures. Ces deux types deffets nfastes sont discuts ci-dessous. Les sollicitations mcaniques susceptibles dendommager un filtre gotextile se manifestent principalement en cours de construction et peuvent rsulter de deux types de causes: (1) laction directe des engins de construction (par exemple, la dchirure dun gotextile par la lame dun bulldozer); et (2) les contraintes concentres lies la grosseur et langularit des particules de sol en contact avec le gotextile et rsultant des charges appliques. Ces charges sont les charges dynamiques dues la circulation des engins sur la couche de sol situe sur le gotextile et les charges statiques dues au poids des sols progressivement placs sur le gotextile. Les actions mcaniques mentionnes ci-dessus peuvent causer une rupture du gotextile par perforation, dchirure, arrachement ou clatement. Il existe des essais normaliss qui reproduisent ces quatre modes de rupture. Des tudes systmatiques ont permis dtablir des corrlations entre les rsultats de ces essais et la rsistance des gotextiles aux contraintes dinstallation. Ainsi ont t tablis des critres de survivabilit relatifs diffrents cas dinstallation. Les rsultats dessais de perforation, dchirure, arrachement et clatement raliss sur un gotextile donn doivent montrer que le gotextile a une rsistance suprieure celle spcifie dans les critres de survivabilit. Un filtre gotextile peut tre endommag en cours de construction (et ensuite, sil nest pas recouvert dune couche de sol) par laction du rayonnement ultraviolet de la lumire solaire qui, aprs une priode de plusieurs semaines plusieurs mois selon le type de gotextile, peut se traduire par des trous de plusieurs centimtres carrs dans le filtre gotextile (Tisinger et al., 1994). Certains produits chimiques peuvent avoir un effet similaire. En cours de service, un gotextile peut tre endommag par abrasion sil est expos des action rptes (mouvement des blocs d laction des vagues dans le cas des filtres gotextiles utiliss en protection de berge, passage de trains dans le cas des filtres gotextiles utiliss en voies ferres) ou sil est expos au vent. Il faut noter que la rsistance dun gotextile labrasion est fonction, entre autres, de la grosseur de ses fibres, ce qui peut tre en contradiction dans certains cas avec la ncessit dutiliser des fibres de petit diamtre pour obtenir une petite ouverture de filtration, comme lindique le graphique prsent la Figure 16. Toutes les sollicitations mcaniques, physiques et chimiques dcrites ci-dessus se traduisent par un endommagement du gotextile sous forme de trous qui, bien entendu, empchent le gotextile de remplir correctement sa fonction de filtre. En plus de ces actions destructives, il faut considrer les dformations causes par les contraintes qui existent dans tous les ouvrages de gotechnique. Du point de vue de la filtration, on sintresse aux dformations qui sont susceptibles de causer des modifications des ouvertures
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des filtres gotextiles. Il convient des distinguer les contraintes de compression et de traction. En ce qui concerne les contraintes de compression, il est clair quelles doivent avoir trs peu deffet sur les gotextiles qui sont trs peu compressibles comme les tisss et les nontisss thermolis. En revanche, elles ont un effet marqu sur les nontisss aiguillets. Ces derniers sont compressibles et, par consquent, leur paisseur diminue quand la contrainte de compression augmente. Il en rsulte une diminution des ouvertures du filtre. Cet effet peut tre quantifi laide du graphique donn dans la Figure 16 (Giroud, 1996). Leffet des contraintes de traction est au contraire mal connu, ce qui est fort regrettable car ces contraintes peuvent tre localement leves, notamment l o le filtre gotextile se dforme pour sadapter aux irrgularits de la surface du sol. Quelques essais ont t cits dans la littrature, mais, la connaissance de lauteur, aucune tude systmatique ne permet de tirer des conclusions claires. Sur le plan thorique ont peut tenter de suggrer les raisonnements suivants: (1) en cas de traction bidirectionnelle, les ouvertures devraient sallonger dans le sens des deux contraintes de traction et, dans le cas dun nontiss pais, se rtrcir dans la direction perpendiculaire (cest--dire la direction normale au plan du gotextile); par consquent, on peut en conclure quune contrainte de traction bidirectionnelle devrait avoir pour effet daugmenter la dimension des ouvertures dans le cas des matriaux minces (bidimensionnels) comme les tisss et les nontisss thermolis, mais on ne peut tirer aucune conclusion dans le cas matriaux pais (tridimensionnels) comme les nontisss aiguillets; et (2) le cas de traction unidirectionnelle est beaucoup plus complexe; si la traction unidirectionnelle tait exerce sur une petite prouvette, les ouvertures devraient sallonger dans le sens de la contrainte de traction et se rtrcir dans la ou les directions perpendiculaires; par consquent, du point de vue de la filtration, puisque cest la plus petite dimension dune ouverture qui rgit le passage dune particule, on peut en conclure quune contrainte de traction unidirectionnelle exerce sur une petite prouvette devrait avoir pour effet de diminuer la dimension des ouvertures; en ralit, le gotextile ne constitue pas une petite prouvette et une zone de traction unidirectionnelle entrane, dans son voisinage, la formation de zones de traction bidirectionnelle o les ouvertures du filtre ont tendance diminuer ou sagrandir, selon le type de gotextile, comme cela a t expliqu plus haut. Il serait souhaitable que des essais systmatiques soient raliss pour vrifier si les raisonnements suggrs ci-dessus sont conformes la ralit. 6 CONCLUSION 6.1 Une exprience considrable et une connaissance profonde du phnomne Prs de quarante ans aprs la premire utilisation dun filtre gotextile, on dispose dune exprience considrable qui dcoule de lutilisation de filtres gotextiles dans des milliers douvrages. Quelques uns, qui ont connu des problmes, nous ont appris ce quil ne fallait pas faire; tant dautres, par leur succs, nous rappellent que les filtres gotextiles sont aujourdhui une technique fiable. La communaut internationale des ingnieurs et chercheurs a t remarquablement active, analysant non seulement les problmes, mais aussi les succs il suffit de voir le nombre dtudes publies sur le Barrage de Valcros pour sen convaincre contribuant ainsi dvelopper une somme dexprience bien plus approfondie que celle qui consisterait seulement accumuler des rcits de cas. Cependant, sagissant dun phnomne aussi complexe que la filtration, lexprience, si considrable soit elle, ne suffit pas. La majorit des erreurs commises dans lutilisation des filtres gotextiles provient dun manque de comprhension du phnomne plutt que de matriaux dfectueux. Une rflexion profonde sur la nature du phnomne est donc ncessaire. Il se trouve que la filtration a, de tout temps, fascin lesprit humain. Linvention du tamis, par exemple, a t une des plus brillantes manifestations de lveil de lintelligence, car elle a ncessit une remarquable dmarche intellectuelle matrisant la relation complexe entre le but et loutil (sparation dlments tridimensionnels discrets par un outil bidimensionnel continu form dlments unidimensionnels) et imposant lutilisateur un mode demploi trs strict sans le respect duquel le but ne peut tre atteint faute dobir aux lois physiques qui rgissent le passage des particules travers un orifice. On a appris, depuis, reconnatre quil y a diffrents types de filtration et que, par exemple, le phnomne de filtration dun sol dans un ouvrage de gotechnique est radicalement diffrent du phnomne du passage des particules travers un tamis. Ainsi, on a appris que la rtention dun sol ne consistait pas arrter les particules de sol, mais les empcher de se dplacer, et encore pas toutes: on a appris quil suffisait dempcher certaines particules de se dplacer, les particules qui forment le squelette du sol, pour que celles-ci leur tour assurent la formation dun autofiltre qui retiendra le sol. On a aussi appris que, pour retenir le sol tout en laissant passer leau, il tait indispensable de laisser passer certaines particules de sol. Autrement dit, on a appris que la rtention du sol dans son ensemble devait saccompagner de la non-rtention de certaines particules. On a aussi appris utiliser, dans les sols, des filtres structure plus complexe que celle des tamis, les gotextiles nontisss; en fait, la structure des gotextiles nontisss est comparable par son caractre quasi alatoire celle du sol et le rle de la troisime dimension, lpaisseur, dans le fonctionnement dun lment essentiellement bidimensionnel comme un filtre est un dfi pour lesprit daujourdhui aussi formidable que celui prsent par le concept du tamis pour notre anctre. Ce dfi a t relev en grande partie et lon a
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appris que la notion dpaisseur dun filtre gotextile na de relle signification que rapporte au diamtre des fibres: une valeur minimale du rapport paisseur/diamtre est requise pour assurer lhomognit du filtre gotextile nontiss, mais une grande valeur de ce rapport peut tre dfavorable. Dune manire plus gnrale, on a appris quantifier linfluence de paramtres de structure des gotextiles sur leur caractristiques de filtration, ce qui est un guide trs prcieux pour les producteurs de gotextiles. On peut esprer que cela suscitera la production de nouveaux filtres gotextiles. 6.2 Des mthodes et produits fiables pour lutilisateur Sil est rconfortant pour lutilisateur de savoir que la filtration est une science bien tablie et non pas un art mystrieux, cela nest pas suffisant. Lauteur de cette communication le sait bien qui est avant tout un ingnieur praticien. Lutilisateur veut pouvoir compter sur des produits fiables et a besoin de mthodes fiables pour les utiliser. Il y a deux faons pour un produit dtre fiable: dans sa constitution et dans son comportement. Un produit mis la disposition de lutilisateur doit obir des spcifications rigoureuses, et personne ne conteste quavec les mthodes modernes de contrle de qualit, les filtres gotextiles sont plus fiables que les filtres naturels granulaires (sable ou gravier). Pour tre fiable dans son comportement, un filtre ne doit pas tre trop sensible aux variations des conditions dans lesquelles il est utilis. On a vu, dans cette communication, que lon dispose aujourdhui de mthodes pour choisir un filtre gotextile qui soit moins sensible quun autre aux variations de caractristiques du sol ainsi que pour choisir un filtre gotextile qui ne souffre pas de faon excessive des contraintes dinstallation et de service. En ce qui concerne lutilisation des filtres gotextiles, cette communication a montr que lon disposait de mthodes fiables pour la conception, le dimensionnement et la mise en place. Au niveau de la conception, on sait aujourdhui identifier, et donc viter, les sols dangereux qui empchent les filtres de fonctionner dans les ouvrages de gotechnique; et il est important de noter que cette information a t dissmine dans des publications accessibles aux concepteurs modernes et cites dans la Section 2 de cette communication. Au niveau du dimensionnement, on dispose aujourdhui de critres de rtention qui tiennent compte non seulement de la dimension des particules du sol mais aussi dautres caractristiques du sol qui rgissent la rtention, comme on la montr la Section 3 de cette communication. Il est regrettable que le poids des traditions ait empch jusqu prsent certains comits de recommander de tels critres. Les utilisateurs attendent des directives de la part des comits dont la mission est de les guider. Pour les comits dont laction passe a t inspire par la tradition, un aggiornamento simpose la lumire des progrs considrables qui ont t faits dans le domaine de la filtration ces vingt dernires annes. De ce point de vue il est intressant de constater que, tandis que la tradition impose de toujours se tourner vers la gotechnique pour chercher linspiration ou linformation, cest lessor donn la filtration par le succs des gotextiles qui a fourni la motivation pour les recherches les plus fcondes en matire de filtration ces vingt dernires annes. Cest donc au sein mme de la communaut de ceux qui sintressent aux gosynthtiques que lon peut avoir accs linformation utile. Fort heureusement, cest une communaut bien organise o linformation circule. Il faut aussi noter quen plus des mthodes prouves qui permettent deffectuer un dimensionnement adquat des filtres gotextiles cette communication a prsent dans la Section 4 des rsultats de recherches rcentes qui fournissent des informations utiles pour la conception des systmes de filtration dans certains cas dlicats ainsi que pour la slection des filtres gotextiles. Au niveau de la mise en place, on trouve dans la Section 5 des recommandations concernant les conditions sur le terrain qui peuvent avoir un impact sur la performance des filtres. En particulier, on ninsistera jamais assez sur limportance dun contact intime entre le filtre gotextile et le sol. Par consquent, on ne peut que recommander de choisir un filtre gotextile qui sadapte bien aux irrgularits du sol. 6.3 Une vision lucide de la complexit du phnomne de filtration En dpit de leffort qui a t fait dans cette communication pour prsenter le sujet de la filtration de faon simple, il nen reste pas moins que la filtration du sol dans un ouvrage de gotechnique est un phnomne complexe. Il faut donc se mfier de toute approche qui nest pas rigoureuse. Sil est lgitime de la part de lutilisateur de vouloir des mthodes simples, il ne faut pas cependant lui donner des mthodes simplistes. Cest un point que les comits devront avoir en mmoire lorsquils procderont laggiornamento si ncessaire Mais, sil faut tre conscient de la complexit inhrente la filtration, il ne faut pas que ce soit une raison ou un prtexte pour se dtourner des filtres gotextiles. Malheureusement, face la complexit, certains ont une raction ngative. Il y a ceux qui se retranchent derrire le bon sens qui donne lillusion de la simplicit ou la tradition qui donne lillusion de la scurit. Il y a ceux qui sont dsorients de ne pas trouver dans le domaine de la filtration le confort que les mathmatiques apportent dans dautres domaines. Il y a ceux qui pensent que le mcanisme de filtration par gotextiles est trop subtil pour tre fiable et qui ne veulent pas prendre le risque dutiliser une technique o la diffrence entre le succs et lchec leur semble tenir peu de chose (ce quil est tentant de paraphraser ainsi: en matire de filtration avec gotextiles, la diffrence
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entre ce qui passe et ne passe pas ne tiendrait qu un fil ). Il y a aussi ceux qui ne veulent pas prendre le risque dutiliser des filtres gotextiles hants quils sont par le spectre du colmatage. Aujourdhui, comme on la montr dans cette communication, cette complexit qui fait peur certains est matrise: on sait faire les choix qui rgissent la diffrence entre le succs et lchec dun filtre et, en particulier, on dispose des moyens requis pour viter le colmatage ainsi que les autres modes potentiels de dysfonctionnement des filtres gotextiles. La lecture de cette communication devrait convaincre ceux qui ne veulent pas prendre le risque dutiliser un filtre gotextile quils se privent dune technique susceptible dtre plus fiable que la technique traditionnelle quils prfrent utiliser. On peut ainsi conclure que, dans ltat actuel des connaissances, ceux qui ne veulent pas prendre le risque dutiliser des filtres gotextiles prennent plus de risques en nen utilisant pas. 6.4 Un dernier mot La filtration cache des mcanismes complexes derrire une faade de simplicit. Quelle proie idale pour le bon sens qui ne se repat que dimpressions et arrive avec sa cohorte habituelle derreurs! Certaines dentre elles ont t lgitimises par la tradition qui souvent prfre le bon sens la rflexion les exemples ne manquent pas, la terre nest elle pas plate daprs le bon sens? Cependant, les rflexions et recherches suscites par la fascinante complexit des mcanismes de filtration ont produit les connaissances actuelles, connaissances qui font que lon dispose, avec les filtres gotextiles, dune technique remarquablement fiable. Il ne reste qu communiquer ce message au plus grand nombre. De ce point de vue, pas de crainte: si la fonction dun filtre est de retenir le sol tout en laissant passer leau, le sujet de la filtration sait retenir lattention tout en laissant couler beaucoup dencre.

REMERCIEMENTS Lauteur exprime sa gratitude K.L. Soderman et B.A. Gross pour leurs commentaires ainsi qu K. Holcomb et M. Ramirez pour leur assistance lors de la rdaction de cette communication.

RFRENCES
Artires, O. and Faure, Y.H., (1997), Filtration des sols par gotextile: retour dexprience et nouveaux dveloppements Soil Filtration with Geotextile: Feedback and New Developments, Comptes Rendus de Rencontres 97 Proceedings of Rencontres 97, Volume 1, Reims, France, Octobre/October 1997, pp.105-111. (en franais et en anglais) Giroud, J.P., (1982a), Filter Criteria for Geotextiles, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Geotextiles, Vol. 1, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, August 1982, pp. 103-108. Giroud, J.P., (1982b), Discussion on Filter Criteria for Geotextiles, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Geotextiles, Vol. 4, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, August 1982, pp. 36-38. Giroud, J.P., (1988), Review of Geotextile Filter Criteria, Proceedings of the First Indian Geotextiles Conference, Bombay, India, December 1988, pp. 1-6. Giroud, J.P., (1989), Panelist Contribution on Geotextile Filters, Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Vol. 5, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 1989, pp. 3105-3106. Giroud, J.P., (1996), Granular Filters and Geotextile Filters, Proceedings of GeoFilters 96, Lafleur, J. and Rollin, A.L., Editors, Montral, Canada, May 1996, pp. 565-680. Lafleur, J., Mlynarek, J. and Rollin, A.L., (1989), Filtration of Broadly Graded Cohesionless Soils, Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, ASCE, Vol. 115, No. 12, pp. 1747-1768. Tisinger, L.G., Clark, B.S., Giroud, J.P. and Schauer, D.A., (1994),The Performance of Nonwoven Geotextiles Exposed to a Semi-Tropical Environment, Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Geotextiles, Geomembranes and Related Products, Singapore, September 1994, Vol. 3, pp. 1223-1226.

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Tableau 1 Table 1

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Critre de rtention (Giroud, 1982a), reprsent galement par la Figure 7. Retention criterion (Giroud, 1982a), also represented in Figure 7. Sol Soil Indice de densit du sol (Densit relative) Density index of the soil (Relative density)

Coefficient duniformit linaire du sol Linear coefficient of uniformity of the soil

3 1 < Cu
Sol peu dense Loose soil ID < 35%

3 Cu
OF <

d50 OF < Cu 0.3 d85 OF < Cu

9 Cu

d50

-1.7 d85 OF < 9 Cu


OF <
13.5 Cu

Sol de densit moyenne Medium dense soil

35% < ID < 65%

d50 OF < 1.5 Cu 0.3 d85 OF < 1.5 Cu

d50

-1.7 OF < 13.5 Cu


OF <
18 Cu

Sol dense Dense soil

ID > 65%

d50 OF < 2 Cu 0.3 d85 OF < 2 Cu

d50

-1.7 d85 OF < 18 Cu

Notes: Les deux quations situes dans la mme case sont quivalentes dans le cas dun sol ayant une courbe granulomtrique quasi linaire en axes semi-logarithmiques traditionnels. Le symbole OF dsigne la valeur pratiquement mesurable de louverture de filtration du gotextile, c'est--dire une valeur proche de la valeur thorique, O100 , comme, par exemple, O95 . Le coefficient duniformit linaire du sol est obtenu en linarisant la courbe granulomtrique du sol en axes semi-logarithmiques traditionnels, comme cela est expliqu par Giroud (1982a) et en utilisant lquation suivante: Notes: The two equations contained in the same cell are equivalent in the case of a soil having a particle size distribution curve that is quasi linear in the traditional semi-logarithmic axes. The symbol OF dsignates the filtration opening size of the geotextile, i.e. a value close to the theoretical value, O100 , such as, for example, O95 . The linear coefficient of uniformity of the soil is obtained by linearizing the particle size distribution curve of the soil in the traditional semi-logarithmic axes, as explained by Giroud (1982a) and using the following equation:

Cu = d100 d 50 = d 90 d 40 = L = d 60 d10 = d 50 d 0 = d100 d 0

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Fig. 1 Exemple de gotextile la fois inutile et nuisible. Fig. 1 Example of a geotextile filter that is both useless and detrimental.

Fig. 2 Courbe granulomtrique dun sol granulomtrie discontinue ayant une trs faible proportion de particules fines comme le gravier sale de la Figure 1. Fig. 2 Particle size distribution curve of a gap-graded soil containing a very small percentage of fine particles, such as the dirty gravel of Figure 1.

Fig. 3 Exemples de courbes granulomtriques de sols granulomtrie discontinue ayant une faible proportion de particules fines (A = fraction grossire granulomtrie tendue; B = fraction grossire granulomtrie troite). Dans les deux cas, les particules fines peuvent se dplacer car la proportion de particules fines est infrieure au domaine de valeurs critiques indiqu par une bande grise. Fig. 3 Examples of particle size distribution curves of gap-graded soils having a small percentage of fine particles (A = broadly graded coarse fraction; B = narrowly graded coarse fraction). In both cases, the fine particles can move because the percentage of fine particles is less than the range of critical values represented by a shaded strip.

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Fig. 4 Imbrication des particules de sol: (a) particules de diffrentes dimensions emprisonnes dans le squelette form par les grosses particules; (b) dans le cas dun sol granulomtrie troite (coefficient duniformit entre 1 et 3), toutes les particules dun certaine dimension sont emprisonnes dans la structure forme par toutes les particules de dimension suprieure; (c) dans le cas dun sol granulomtrie tendue (coefficient duniformit suprieur 3), les grosses particules telles que S ne forment pas un squelette continu tandis que lensemble des particules telles que S et S forment un squelette continu; (d) squelette interrompu linterface et lgrement dsorganis au voisinage de linterface, laissant des particules non emprisonnes dans le squelette; si le filtre a des ouvertures trop petites (Figure 4d), ces particules tendent saccumuler sur le filtre et le colmater, mais, si le filtre est bien dimensionn (Figure 4c), ces particules peuvent schapper et le filtre ne se colmate pas. Fig. 4 Interlocking of soil particles: (a) particles of different sizes entrapped within the skeleton formed by the large particles; (b) in the case of a narrowly graded soil (coefficient of uniformity between 1 and 3), all of the particles of a certain size are entrapped in the structure formed by all of the larger particles; (c) in the case of a broadly graded soil (coefficient of uniformity greater than 3), large particles such as S do not form a continuous skeleton, while particles such as S and S altogether form a continuous skeleton; (d) the skeleton is interrupted at the interface and slightly disorganized in the vicinity of the interface, and, as a result, some particles are not entrapped within the skeleton.

Fig. 5 Ouverture de filtre requise pour permettre le passage dune particule: (a) si la particule se prsente seule, il faut que louverture du filtre soit plus grande que la particule; (b) sil y a plusieurs particules ensemble (cas dun sol dense), les particules forment un pontage au dessus de louverture qui, par consquent, peut tre plus grande que la dimension des particules. Fig. 5 Filter opening size required to allow particles to pass: (a) if a particle travels alone, the filter opening must be larger than the particle size; (b) if there are several particles together (case of a dense soil), the particles form a bridge over the filter opening, which can, therefore, be larger than the particles.

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Fig. 6 Reprsentation schmatique dun critre de rtention prenant en compte les caractristiques du sol qui rgissent la rtention. Les cercles pleins reprsentent schmatiquement la granulomtrie du sol pour trois valeurs du coefficient duniformit (1, 3 et 10). Les cercles vides reprsentent schmatiquement les ouvertures du filtre. Fig.6 Schematic representation of a retention criterion that takes into account the soil characteristics that govern retention. The full circles schematically represent the particle size distribution of the soil for three values of the coefficient of uniformity (1,3 and 10). The empty circles schematically represent the filter opening size.

Fig. 7 Reprsentation du critre de rtention de Giroud (1982a) prsent au Tableau 1 en prenant comme base: (a) le d50 du sol; (b) le d85 du sol. Fig. 7 Representation of Girouds retention criterion (1982a) presented in Table 1 using as a basis: (a) the d50 of the soil; (b) the d85 of the soil.

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Fig. 8 Constrictions: (a) dfinition dune constriction; (b) dimension dune constriction; (c) courbe de distribution des constrictions. Fig. 8 Constrictions: (a) definition of a constriction; (b) size of a constriction; (c) constriction size distribution curve.

Fig. 9 Filtration: (a) chemin de filtration; (b) courbe de distribution des ouvertures. Fig. 9 Filtration: (a) filtration path; (b) opening size distribution curve.
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Fig. 10 Courbes de distribution des constrictions et courbes de distribution des ouvertures dans le cas de gotextiles nontisss: (a) courbes de distribution des ouvertures pour quatre gotextiles constitus du mme matriau nontiss, mais dpaisseurs diffrentes, (1) infiniment pais, (2) pais, (3) mince, (4) infiniment mince, la courbe de distribution des ouvertures du gotextile nontiss infiniment mince tant la courbe de distribution des constrictions de tous les quatre gotextiles; (b) relation entre la courbe de distribution des constrictions et la courbe de distribution des ouvertures dans le cas dun gotextile nontiss dpaisseur finie. Fig. 10 Constriction size distribution curves and opening size distribution curves in the case of nonwoven geotextiles: (a) opening size distribution curves for four geotextiles made from the same nonwoven material, but having different thicknesses, (1) infinitely thick, (2) thick, (3) thin, (4) infinitely thin, the opening size distribution curve for the infinitely thin nonwoven geotextile being also the constriction size distribution curve for all of the four geotextiles; (b) relationship between the constriction size distribution curve and the opening size distribution curve for a nonwoven geotextile of finite thickness.

Fig. 11 Gotextile tiss: (a) courbes de distribution des constrictions/ouvertures (les deux courbes sont identiques dans le cas dun tiss), deux exemples sont montrs, celui dun tiss idal o toutes les ouvertures sont rigoureusement identiques et celui dun tiss rel o les ouvertures ne sont pas toutes rigoureusement identiques; (b) rtention dune particule de sol; on voit que, lorsquune particule est retenue par un gotextile tiss, elle est retenue la surface du gotextile. Fig. 11 Woven geotextile: (a) constriction/opening size distribution curves (both curves are identical in the case of a woven), two examples are shown, that of an ideal woven geotextile where all openings are rigourously identical and that of an actual woven geotextile where openings are not all rigourously identical; (b) retention of a soil particle; it is seen that, when a particle is retained by a woven geotextile, it is retained at the surface of the geotextile.

Fig. 12 Gotextile nontiss trs pais: (a) la courbe de distribution des ouvertures de ce gotextile nontiss est comparable celle du gotextile tiss de la Figure 11a; (b), on voit que, lorsquune particule est retenue par un gotextile nontiss, elle est retenue un niveau qui dpend du chemin de filtration. Fig.12 Very thick nonwoven geotextile: (a) the opening size distribution curve of this geotextile is comparable to that of the woven geotextile of Figure 11a; (b) it is seen that, when a particle is retained by a nonwoven geotextile, it is retained at a level that depends on the filtration path.

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Fig. 13 Probabilit pour quune particule passe travers un gotextile ou soit retenue dans ou sur le gotextile. Fig. 13 Probability that a particle will pass through a geotextile or will be retained in or on the geotextile.

Fig. 14 Comparaison des probabilits de rtention, par deux gotextiles nontisss ayant la mme ouverture de filtration, O100 , de deux particules, lune tant une particule du squelette de dimension ds , suprieure louverture de filtration lautre tant une particule fine de dimension df , infrieure louverture de filtration du gotextile: (a) gotextile nontiss mince; (b) gotextile nontiss pais. Fig. 14 Comparison of the probabilities of retention, by two nonwoven geotextiles having the same filtration opening size, O100 ,of two particles, one being a skeleton particle of size, ds , larger than the filter opening size the other being a fine particle of size df , smaller than the filter opening size: (a) thin nonwoven geotextile; (b) thick nonwoven geotextile.

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Fig. 15 Comparaison des probabilits de rtention, par deux gotextiles nontisss ayant la mme ouverture de filtration, O100 , de particules du squelette dont la dimension, ds , peut varier dans un certain domaine: (a) toutes les particules du squelette sont plus grandes que O100 ; (b) certaines particules du squelette sont plus petites que O100 . Fig. 15 Comparison of the probabilities of retention, by two nonwoven geotextiles having the same filtration opening size, O100 , of skeleton particles whose size, ds ,may vary in a certain range: (a) all of the skeleton particles are larger than O100 ; (b) some of the skeleton particles are smaller than O100 .

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Fig. 16 Graphique donnant trois relations entre le rapport ouverture de filtration/diamtre de fibre et le rapport paisseur du gotextile/diamtre de fibre pour un gotextile nontiss. Chaque relation est reprsente par une famille de courbes: (1) les courbes en trait plein correspondent des valeurs constantes de la porosit, n, du gotextile; (2) les courbes en tirets correspondent des valeurs constantes du rapport adimensionnel GT f t GT ; et (3) les courbes en pointill correspondent des valeurs constantes du nombre de constrictions, m. Il faut noter que diffrents points sur la mme courbe en trait plein correspondent diffrents gotextiles ayant la mme porosit mais des paisseurs diffrentes, tandis que diffrents points sur la mme courbe en tirets correspondent au mme gotextile ayant des paisseurs diffrentes correspondant diffrents niveaux de compression. Definitions: df = diamtre des fibres; n = porosit du matriau nontiss; m = nombre moyen de constrictions; OF = ouverture de filtration (voir Tableau 1); tGT = paisseur du gotextile; GT = masse surfacique du gotextile; GT = masse volumique du polymre. Fig. 16 Chart giving three relationships between the filtration opening size/fiber diameter ratio and the geotextile thickness/fiber diameter ratio for a nonwoven geotextile. Each relationship is represented by a family of curves: (1) the solid curves correspond to constant values of the geotextile porosity, n; (2) the dashed curves correspond to constant values of the dimensionless ratio GT f t GT ; and (3) the dotted curves correspond to constant values of the number of constrictions, m. It should be noted that different points on the same solid curve correspond to different geotextiles whereas different points on the same dashed curve correspond to the same geotextile but with different thicknesses corresponding to different levels of compression. Definitions: df = fiber diameter; n = porosity of the nonwoven material; m = average number of constrictions; OF = filtration opening size (see Table 1); tGT = geotextile thickness; GT = mass per unit area of the geotextile; GT = density of the polymer.

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Fig. 17 Ncessit dun contact intime entre le filtre gotextile et le sol Exemple dune tranche drainante: montrant le rle du matriau situ laval du filtre gotextile: (a) un gravier de petite dimension (par exemple 20 mm ou moins) et bien compact applique une pression relativement uniforme et, par consquent, peut assurer un contact intime entre le filtre gotextile et le sol si le gotextile est souple; (b). un gravier de grande dimension napplique pas une pression uniforme et, par consquent, nest pas susceptible dassurer un contact intime entre le filtre gotextile et le sol; (c) dans le cas dun drain gocomposite form dune me synthtique rigide et dun filtre gotextile, la rigidit de lme empche souvent le gotextile dpouser les irrgularits de la surface du sol, ce qui rend impossible un contact intime (on recommande alors souvent de placer du sable entre le filtre gotextile et le sol). Fig. 17 Intimate contact requirement between the geotextile filter and the soil Example of a drainage trench illustrating the role of the material located on the downstream side of the geotextile: (a) a well compacted small gravel (e.g. 20 mm or less) exerts a relatively uniform pressure and, therefore, may ensure intimate contact between the geotextile filter and the soil if the geotextile is flexible; (b) a coarse gravel does not exert a uniform pressure and, therefore, is unlikely to ensure intimate contact between the geotextile filter and the soil; (c) in the case of a geocomposite drain composed of a rigid synthetic core and a geotextile filter, the rigidity of the core often prevents the geotextile from conforming to the irregularities of the soil surface, which makes intimate contact impossible (in this case, it is often recommended to place sand between the geotextile filter and the soil).

Fig. 18 Ncessit dun contact intime entre le filtre gotextile et le sol Exemple dune protection de berge: Le rle de la couche de petit gravier (couche 3) est dexercer un pression uniforme sur le filtre gotextile pour assurer un contact intime entre le filtre gotextile et le sol; la couche de gros gravier (couche 2) joue le rle de filtre entre le petit gravier et les blocs (couche 1) pour empcher le petit gravier dtre lessiv entre les blocs par laction des vagues. Fig. 18 Intimate contact requirement between the geotextile filter and the soil Example of a bank protection: the role of the layer of small gravel (Layer 3) is to exert a uniform pressure on the geotextile filter in order to ensure an intimate contact between the geotextile filter and the soil; the layer of coarse gravel (Layer 2) acts as a filter between the small gravel and the blocks (Layer 1) to prevent the small gravel from being washed through the blocks by wave action.

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1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Nearly Forty Years of Experience Geotextile filters have now been used for nearly forty years. These forty years of successes and errors, forty years of experience, have led to todays sophisticated tools, which are available to the engineer and the user to design and select geotextile filters. During these forty years, geotextile filters have sometimes been praised and sometimes condemned. There is a passion in filtration that does not exist in other branches of geotechnical engineering, a passion that is fueled by irrational beliefs which result from the complexity of the filtration phenomenon and by fear which is inspired by the specter of clogging. A reinforcing element that ruptures is like a broken bone: it is sudden, perceived immediately, easy to understand, and the rational treatment is obvious. A filter that clogs is like a mysterious illness which develops slowly, is usually discovered too late, is poorly understood, and does not have an obvious cure. However, the filtration function seems so simple! 1.2 A Simple Function, but a Complex Mechanism The function of a filter in a geotechnical structure is to allow water to pass while retaining the soil. In other words, a filter must play two fundamental roles: let the water pass and retain the soil. It is important to note that the word retain is used, not the word stop, and that the word soil is used, not the phrase soil particles. The function of a filter in a geotechnical structure is different from the function of a filter placed across a fluid that carries particles in suspension. While the latter filter stops moving particles, a filter placed in a geotechnical structure retains the soil, i.e. prevents the soil from moving. In other words, in the case of a filter placed across a fluid carrying particles in suspension (dusty air, tea), the particles stopped by the filter accumulate little by little on the filter (and therefore clog it progressively), while in the case of a filter in a geotechnical structure, the filter prevents the soil as a whole from moving, thus most particles do not move and therefore do not accumulate on the filter (and consequently do not clog it). There are, however, always fine particles that move, carried by water: the filter must let them pass. This is an essential aspect of the functioning of a filter in a geotechnical structure. Retention must not be total: the soil must only be retained as a whole and, if some particles move individually, it is essential that the filter does not stop them, otherwise it would clog. There are also some critical situations where water that flows in the soil carries a large amount of particles in suspension. A filter exposed to such a situation can only clog. It is therefore important to identify those situations and to avoid them using an appropriate design of the structure that contains the filter; this is something that is known and which will be discussed in detail in the rest of this paper. 1.3 Design Methods Influenced by Tradition The design of a filter is traditionally made using two criteria, a permeability criterion and a retention criterion. These two criteria correspond to the two fundamental roles included in the filter function: let the water pass and retain the soil. The permeability criterion expresses that the filter is sufficiently permeable (i.e. has openings that are large enough) to allow the water to flow freely and the retention criterion expresses that the filter has openings sufficiently small to retain the soil. This traditional approach using two criteria provides the designer with a tool that is satisfactory in the majority of cases. However, this traditional approach using two criteria tends to hide the dual nature of the retention mechanism and an approach that better represents the reality is described below. A discussion of the filtration function, such as described in Section 1.2, shows that the design of a filter must satisfy two requirements that are opposite (but not contradictory) concerning the openings of the filter: (i) the filter must have openings small enough to retain the soil as a whole; and (ii) the filter must have openings large enough to allow water to flow as freely as possible and also (something that is often forgotten) to allow the soil particles which are carried by water to pass. The second requirement is dual; as a result there are three criteria, a retention criterion (retention of the soil as a whole), a permeability criterion, and a nonretention criterion (non-retention of the particles that move). This approach of filter design using three criteria is more correct than the approach using two criteria because it corresponds exactly to the requirement of the functioning of a filter. One could argue that the permeability criterion and the non-retention criterion are redundant because, if the permeability criterion is satisfied, this implies that the openings of the filter are not small, which results in the fact that the non-retention criterion is satisfied. This may be true for granular filters, but it is certainly not true for geotextile filters. Indeed, geotextiles, which usually have a high permeability, virtually always satisfy the permeability criterion, even with very small openings. However,

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there is no guarantee that small openings that satisfy the permeability criterion would satisfy the nonretention criterion. Since the permeability criterion is virtually always satisfied in the case of geotextile filters, the conceptual and detailed design effort should be focused on the retention of the soil as a whole and on the non-retention of the particles that move. Accordingly, in the remainder of this paper, only the mechanisms and criteria of retention and non-retention will be discussed. 1.4 Malfunctioning Modes Are Known As a result of the discussion presented above (Section 1.2) there are three modes of malfunctioning of a filter: (i) initial lack of permeability (i.e. insufficient permeability of the filter even without clogging), which results in insufficient flow of water through the filter; (ii) excessive retention, which results in accumulation of fine particles in or on the filter, i.e. clogging; and (iii) insufficient retention, which results in excessive transport of particles through the filter (excessive, i.e. in excess of the desirable transport through the filter of particles that would be carried by water no matter what). This phenomenon of particle transport has been given various names such as internal erosion, and piping in the case the erosion causes a void that looks like a pipe. Clogging decreases the permeability of the filter; therefore, clogging and initial lack of permeability have the same consequences: insufficient drainage of the soil located upstream of the filter, resulting in a high soil water content (which is undesirable if the goal is to dewater the soil) and in a high pore water pressure (which may have a catastrophic influence on the stability of the soil). The excessive transport of particles may have detrimental consequences upstream and downstream of the filter: upstream, the departure of particles may result in soil collapse; and, downstream, the arrival of particles may result in clogging of the drain, if any. It will be seen in Section 5.2 that the relative importance of the various potential detrimental consequences that a filter may have depends on the geotechnical structure in which the filter is placed. It is clear that the malfunctioning of a filter may have very detrimental consequences. One may, therefore, be reassured to know that there are today reliable methods to design filters, in particular geotextile filters. 1.5 Remarkable Progress and Reliable Tools for the Design of Geotextile Filters During the last 20 years, remarkable progress has been made in four essential areas concerning geotextile filters: (i) we have learned how to identify, hence how to avoid, the soils that lead to a high risk of clogging regardless of the type of filter (geotextile or granular filter); (ii) we have learned how to include in retention criteria the important parameters that govern the behavior of the soil in contact with the filter; (iii) we have learned how to quantify the parameters that govern the filtration characteristics of geotextiles, which makes it possible to rationalize the selection and manufacture of geotextile filters; and, finally, (iv) we have learned how to use geotextile filters properly, i.e. to install them correctly and insert them properly into the geotechnical structure, so they can perform their function with maximum safety. By addressing the four above points, this paper will show that, during the past twenty years, we have come a long way, a way strewn with mistakes, but leading to the well-established body of knowledge available today. It is important to remember some of the mistakes that were made because they are pitfalls in which one should not fall again. More importantly, it is essential to know that the body of knowledge available today is based on a solid foundation and provides reliable tools that make it possible to use geotextile filters with a high level of safety, hence a high level of confidence. 2 RISKY SOILS 2.1 A Mistake in the Field A contractor was so proud to show me what he thought was an excellent job: he had placed a perforated drainage pipe in a gravel-filled trench, as shown on the construction drawings; but contrary to the construction drawings, he had added a geotextile filter around the pipe (Figure 1). He said he had improved the design of the drainage system by adding a filter. (Of course, at the origin of this good deed was the fact that the contractor had gotten this pipe with a geotextile filter for a price less than the price of the pipe as specified without a geotextile filter.) I asked that the contractor reconstruct the drainage trench without the geotextile filter around the pipe. Indeed, the geotextile filter around the pipe was useless and detrimental. It was useless because it was not needed to retain the gravel, which was too coarse to be able to pass through the pipe perforations. It was detrimental because the gravel, as is often the case in drainage trenches, was not clean; consequently, as soon as water would flow through the gravel toward the pipe, it would wash away the fine particles located on the gravel particles and the fine particles would settle on or in

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the geotextile filter. It is very important to understand that a filter, unless its openings are very large, stops the particles carried by the fluid that flows through it: this is the way air filters, oil filters, tea filters, etc. work. In geotechnical engineering, a filter must never, absolutely never, be in a situation where it stops particles carried by water in suspension: this filter will automatically clog regardless of its characteristics. 2.2 Gap-Graded Soils The mishaps of the contractor can be expressed in a more general way by considering that the geotextile filter was in contact with a gap-graded soil where the percentage of the fine fraction is small. Indeed, the dirty gravel in the trench is a soil whose particle size distribution curve includes a plateau (Figure 2), which represents a gap in the particle size distribution; furthermore, the plateau is very low, which indicates that the percentage of fine particles is small. This small amount of fine particles do not occupy all the pore volume of the gravel; therefore, the gravel remains very permeable. Consequently, water can flow very rapidly through the gravel and can, therefore, wash away the fine soil particles. It follows that one should never place a filter in contact with a gap-graded soil where the fine fraction is mobile, i.e. a gap-graded soil where the percentage of the fine fraction is small. The critical percentage of fine particles below which fine particles are mobile depends on the particle size distribution and the density of the material that constitutes the coarse fraction of the gap-graded soil. As an approximation, one may consider the following values (obtained using elementary calculations) for the critical percentage of the fine fraction: from 24 to 30%, if the coarse fraction has a narrow particle size distribution and a low density; from 17 to 23%, if the coarse fraction has a narrow particle size distribution and a high density; and from 11 to 16%, if the coarse fraction has a broad particle size distribution (Figure 3). 2.3 Internal Instability Soils containing fine particles that can move between coarser particles are called internally unstable soils. The soils that are likely to be internally unstable are the gap-graded soils which were discussed above (Section 2.2) and the soils with a very broad particle size distribution, i.e. soils that have a coefficient of uniformity of 50 or more, for example 100 or even 1,000. In the case of gap-graded soils, it is rather easy to distinguish between those that present a risk of internal instability by considering the percentage of fines, as indicated above (Section 2.2). In contrast, in the case of soils with a continuous particle size distribution curve which is very broad, it is difficult to quantitatively determine those that are likely to be internally unstable; however, in the case of cohesionless soils, this can be done using the shape of the particle size distribution curve, as shown by Lafleur et al. (1989). 2.4 Conclusion on Risky Soils From the foregoing discussions, it appears that there are risky soils, the internally unstable soils. It is important to know that techniques are available to identify these soils, as shown above. These techniques can be summarized as follows: (i) if the soil is gap-graded, it is unstable if the percentage of the fine fraction is less than a certain value which depends on the nature of the coarse fraction (see Section 2.2); and (ii) if the soil has a continuous particle size distribution curve, it is generally stable, but it may be unstable if its particle size distribution is very broad, i.e. if its coefficient of uniformity is 50 or more, for example 100 or even 1,000. If the soil is clearly unstable, a filter should absolutely not be placed in contact with this soil. In some cases, this may lead to a change in the conceptual design of the project. If the soil is not clearly unstable, but is borderline and could present a risk of instability, it is recommended to consult an expert and filtration tests in a laboratory may be necessary. Finally, if the soil is internally stable the use of a filter can be considered, in other words, one may say that this soil is filtrable. Of course, a requirement for this filter to function properly is that it be designed, selected and installed adequately, i.e. in accordance with the principles presented in Sections 3, 4 and 5. 3 IMPACT ON FILTER CRITERIA OF SOIL CHARACTERISTICS THAT GOVERN RETENTION 3.1 A First Mistake by Common Sense Common sense dictates without any hesitation that, to retain soil particles, a filter must have all of its openings smaller than the smallest soil particle. It is clear that under these conditions no soil particle can pass through the filter. This results in absolute retention, which seems to indicate that common sense is right. However, such a filter would be very likely to malfunction for the following two reasons: (i) the filter, having very small openings, would have a very small permeability and would not let water flow freely, which
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is contrary to one of the two fundamental roles of a filter; and (ii) the filter would be very likely to clog because it would capture the moving fine particles which, even in the case of an internally stable soil, always exist at the beginning of the functioning of a filter. (This last point will be addressed in greater detail later in this same section.) When a soil is filtrable, i.e. internally stable (see Section 2.4), the fine particles are interlocked in the structure formed by coarser particles (Figure 4a) and, as a result, are not free to move. Therefore, it is useless to retain them. However, it is necessary to distinguish between two cases: (i) the case of narrowly graded soils, i.e. the soils that have a coefficient of uniformity between 1 and 3; and (ii) the case of broadly graded soil, i.e. the soils that have a coefficient of uniformity greater than 3. It has been shown that, in the case of narrowly graded soils (coefficient of uniformity between 1 and 3), it is sufficient for the filter to retain the coarsest particles to ensure that the soil is retained (Giroud, 1982a). These coarsest particles form a continuous skeleton (Figure 4b) which entraps particles of intermediate size; the set of coarse and intermediate size particles form a stable structure which entraps the particles that are a little smaller, etc. As a result, in the case of narrowly graded soils, all of the particles with a given size are completely entrapped in the structure formed by all of the coarser particles. In contrast, in the case of broadly graded soils (coefficient of uniformity greater than 3), there are not enough of the coarsest particles to form a continuous skeleton (Figure 4c). In this case, the skeleton is formed by the set of particles greater than a certain size, which depends on the coefficient of uniformity of the soil; this size is smaller than the size of the coarsest particles but it is always clearly greater than the size of the smallest particles of the soil (Giroud, 1982a). Therefore, in all cases, soil retention is ensured by a filter that retains particles that are clearly coarser than the finest soil particles. It is very important to note that, at the interface between the soil and the filter and in the vicinity of this interface, there are particles that are not entrapped in the skeleton (Figure 4d) because the skeleton is interrupted at the interface and is slightly disorganized in the vicinity of the interface. As soon as water starts flowing, it washes away these particles toward the filter. If the filter openings are too small, the moving particles are stopped by the filter and they accumulate little by little on the filter, thereby clogging it progressively. In contrast, if the moving particles can pass through the filter, which is the ideal case, a zone with a permeability slightly larger than that of the rest of the soil is being formed in the soil in the vicinity of the interface. This zone ensures an excellent transition between the soil and the filter. It is clear from the preceding discussions that, in the field of filtration, common sense is completely wrong: it is not necessary, and it is even usually detrimental, to retain all soil particles; to the contrary, a filter must allow some small particles to pass and it only needs to retain the particles that form the skeleton to ensure soil retention. By retaining the skeleton, the geotextile allows the skeleton to act as a filter for the particles immediately smaller than the skeleton particles; in turn, these particles act as a filter for the particles immediately smaller, etc. In other words, by ensuring the stability of the skeleton, the geotextile acts as a catalyst that makes it possible for the skeleton to serve as the foundation for a self-filter that develops in the soil and which could not develop if the skeleton were not stable. Clearly, filtration is a phenomenon that is too complex to be dealt with by common sense. 3.2 A Mistake Made by Tradition That it is sufficient to retain some coarse particles to retain the soil as a whole was recognized a long time ago in soil mechanics. However, a distinction, which is important from the viewpoint of filtration, between the case of the narrowly graded soils (coefficient of uniformity between 1 and 3) and the case of the broadly graded soils (coefficient of uniformity greater than 3) was not made clearly in the works on filtration performed within the framework of traditional soil mechanics. It is for that reason that all the retention criteria proposed in traditional soil mechanics, i.e. the criteria for granular filter, refer to d85, which is practically the size of the coarsest soil particles. In the case of broadly graded soils, this leads to absurdities that geotechnical engineers know very well and which they have learned to bypass using conventional procedures that maintain an atmosphere of mystery around the design of granular filters. At the beginning, the design of geotextile filters was naturally inspired from the design of granular filters and, unfortunately, has inherited problems related to the design of those filters. In particular, committees influenced by geotechnical engineers attached to soil mechanics traditions, have adopted retention criteria for geotextiles that perpetuate problems related to the design of granular filters for broadly graded soils. What we know today on filtration requires an update of the retention criteria proposed by some committees for geotextile filters in contact with broadly graded soils. For the past fifteen years, retention criteria have been available which were especially developed for geotextile filters and which resulted from a quantitative analysis based on the principles presented above (Section 3.1). In the case of broadly graded soils, these

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criteria lead to a reliable design of geotextile filters; in contrast, criteria which directly imitated the criteria for granular filters may lead to catastrophes. Thus, it has been shown that, if at Valcros Dam the geotextile filter had been designed according to some criteria derived from criteria for granular filters, the dam would have had a high risk of internal erosion (Giroud, 1988). How can we explain, other than by a blind attachment to tradition, the upholding of a criterion which would have led, if it had been used, to the failure of Valcros Dam, the first dam constructed with a geotextile filter? 3.3 A Second Mistake by Common Sense Common sense has no luck with filtration. Being only a random collection of beliefs based on simplistic thoughts, common sense is ill equipped to provide rational solutions to problems, such as filtration, that require sophisticated analyses. According to common sense, to retain a soil particle of a given size, a filter opening should be smaller than the soil particle (Figure 5a). This ignores that soils particles are usually not alone in front of a filter opening and that they form bridges such that some particles smaller than the filter opening do not pass (Figure 5b). The stability of these bridges depends on the cohesion and the density of the soil. In the case of cohesive soils, such as clays, bridges of the order of 100 micrometers, i.e. including several tens of particles, may be stable. In the case of cohesionless soils, such as sand, or soils with low cohesion, such as silts, bridges with two or three particles can be stable if the soil is dense, which is often the case in geotechnical structures. Using certain approximations, it has been shown that, in the case of dense soils, the filter opening could be twice the size of the particles to be retained (Giroud, 1982a). However, if the soil is in a loose state, which is the case in some poorly constructed structures or in difficult situations such as landslides, there is no stable bridge and it is necessary to use a filter with openings smaller than the size of the particle to be retained. Retention criteria specially developed for geotextile filters take into account the bridging effect. Therefore, one should not be surprised to see that, in some cases, these criteria authorize filter openings larger than the size of the particles to be retained, even though this seems to challenge common sense. 3.4 Conclusion Regarding the Impact of Soil Characteristics on Retention Criteria The foregoing discussions can be summarized as follows: (i) a geotextile filter must be designed to retain particles that form the soil skeleton; (ii) the size of these particles depends on the particle size distribution of the soil and it is directly given by the retention criteria especially developed for geotextile filters; (iii) these retention criteria also take into account the phenomenon of particle bridging in the case of dense soils. Figure 6 schematically presents the concept of retention criteria developed especially for geotextile filters. It is seen on this figure that: (i) in the case of loose soils (i.e. the soils where there is no bridging of soil particles located on top of filter openings), the authorized filtration opening size is equal to the size of the largest soil particles if the coefficient of uniformity of the soil is less than or equal to 3 and is smaller than the size of the largest soil particles if the coefficient of uniformity of the soil is larger than 3 because, in this case, the particles that form the skeleton are smaller than the largest particles of the soil; and (ii) in the case of dense soils, as a result of the bridging of soil particles on top of filter openings, the authorized filtration opening size is larger than in the case of loose soils, which results in the curve which represents the retention criterion for dense soils being above the curve which represents the retention criterion for loose soils. As a result, as shown in Figure 6, in the case of dense soils, the filtration opening size is larger than the size of the largest soil particles when the coefficient of uniformity of the soil is larger than approximately 5. An example of a retention criterion which takes into account the soil characteristics that govern filtration is Girouds criterion (1982a) presented in Table 1 and Figure 7. The difference in the shape of the curves of Figures 6 and 7 results from the fact that Figure 6 was established based on the size of the largest soil particles (schematically represented by spheres) while Figure 7 is based on the d50 of the soil (Figure 7a) or d85 of the soil (Figure 7b). From a didactic viewpoint, it was preferable to use the size of the largest soil particles in Figure 6, but it is more practical to use the d50 or the d85 of the soil in the criterion presented by Figure 7 because the size of the coarsest soil particles is not easy to measure accurately due to the presence, always possible, of an erratic coarse particle. In conclusion, it may be seen that the modern retention criteria, specially developed for geotextile filters, are sophisticated regarding the way they deal with the soil because they take into account three soil characteristics that govern retention: the size of particles (the only characteristic which is taken into account in traditional criteria), the shape of the particle size distribution curve (through the coefficient of uniformity), and the density of the soil.

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4.1 Limitations of Current Retention Criteria The retention criteria currently available for geotextile filters are very sophisticated because they take into account several parameters related to the behavior of the soil in contact with the geotextile filter, but they are less sophisticated regarding the way they take into account the geotextile filter. Only one parameter related to the function of the geotextile filter is taken into account: the filtration opening size. Thus, the current retention criteria consider as equivalent two geotextiles having the same filtration opening size, even though these geotextiles may be very different regarding other characteristics likely to have an influence on their filtration performance. For example, a thin woven and a thick nonwoven are considered equivalent, with respect to current retention criteria, if they have the same filtration opening size. It is clear that on this point there is a need for research and one may predict, on the basis of encouraging results from work in progress, that one day in the future sophisticated retention criteria will be available which will take into account several relevant parameters related to the geotextile filter as well as the current criteria take into account several relevant parameters related to the soil. To improve current retention criteria, an in-depth knowledge of filtration by geotextiles is required. Accordingly, the sections that follow present recent developments regarding the functioning and the structure of geotextile filters. These developments make it possible in particular: (i) to better understand the mechanism of filtration of soil particles by geotextile filters (see Sections 4.2 to 4.5); and (ii) to identify the parameters related to the structure of geotextile filters that have an influence on the filtration opening size (see Section 4.6). 4.2 Characterization of the Structure of Geotextile Filters: Constrictions and Openings The characterization of the structure of geotextile filters will be presented for the case of nonwoven geotextiles. The concepts thus defined will easily be extended to the simpler case of woven geotextiles. To pass through a nonwoven geotextile filter, a particle must pass between fibers. A constriction can be defined as the passage delimitated by three or more fibers (Figure 8a) and the size of a constriction can be defined as the diameter of the sphere which can just pass through the constriction (Figure 8b). If a block of nonwoven material is considered (i.e. a three-dimensional sample, not a two-dimensional sample such as a geotextile), and if this block is large enough to be representative, it contains a representative set of the constrictions which exist in the considered nonwoven material. This set of constrictions is represented by a constriction size distribution curve (Figure 8c). The constriction sizes range from C0 , the size of the smallest constriction in the considered nonwoven material, to C100 , the size of the largest constriction in the considered nonwoven material; C100 is such that 100% of the constrictions in the considered nonwoven material are smaller than or equal to C100 . One could argue that the size of the smallest constriction is C0 = 0 because there is always the possibility that three fibers will meet at the same point, thus delimitating a passage with a zero size. However, from the viewpoint of filtration, constrictions with a size that is zero or very small should not be considered because a particle that meets such a constriction will not be stopped; instead, it will be diverted laterally. (The particles do not have to follow a rigorously straight path, and they naturally select the path of least resistance.) A soil particle that travels in a nonwoven geotextile filter follows a filtration path (Figure 9a). A filtration path is tortuous, but its general direction is aproximately perpendicular to the plane of the geotextile. As it travels along a filtration path, a particle passes through constrictions until it meets a constriction which is smaller than it is. This constriction stops the particle. Of course, if the considered particle is not stopped by a constriction, it passes through the geotextile. In each filtration path, there is a constriction that is smaller than the others. This constriction plays an essential role: it determines the size of the coarsest particle that can pass through the geotextile following the considered filtration path. This constriction is called the controlling constriction of the considered path. In a given filtration path, the size of the controlling constriction is the opening size of the filtration path; therefore, the opening size of a filtration path is the size of the coarsest particle which can travel through the geotextile filter following this filtration path. In a nonwoven geotextile filter, there are many filtration paths, and these paths are all different. A given particle can be stopped in a certain filtration path, but it may pass through the filter if it follows another path. Each filtration path is characterized by its opening size. Therefore, a geotextile filter is characterized by an opening size distribution curve (Figure 9b). The size of the openings of a nonwoven geotextile (i.e. the sizes of the openings of the various filtration paths of the geotextile) range from O0 , the size of the the smallest opening in the considered nonwoven geotextile, to O100 the size of the largest opening in the considered nonwoven geotextile; O100 is such that 100% of the filtration paths in the considered geotextile have

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openings that are smaller than or equal to O100 . In other words, 100% of the openings of a geotextile are smaller than or equal to O100 . The opening size distribution curve is a characteristic of the geotextile and, in particular, the largest opening, O100 , is a characteristic of the geotextile. called the filtration opening size of the geotextile or, more simply, the opening size of the geotextile. The opening size of the geotextile is the opening size of the filtration path which has the largest opening size in that geotextile. In other words, the opening size of a geotextile is the size of the largest particle that can pass through the geotextile. 4.3 Relationship Between Constrictions and Openings for Various Types of Geotextile Filters It is important to note that the constriction size distribution curve is an intrinsic characteristic of the material that constitutes a geotextile whereas the opening size distribution curve is a characteristic of the geotextile. The relationship between the constriction size distribution curve of the material that constitutes a geotextile and the opening size distribution curve of this geotextile depends on the geotextile thickness. To establish the relationship between these two types of curves, three geotextiles with different thicknesses are considered. These three geotextiles are assumed to be made with the same nonwoven material. Two extreme cases are considered first, the case of a nonwoven geotextile with a zero thickness and the case of a nonwoven geotextile with an infinite thickness; then the case of a nonwoven geotextile with a finite thickness will be considered. Consider first an infinitely thin hypothetical nonwoven geotextile. In this geotextile, each filtration path has only one constriction. Therefore, the opening of each filtration path is equal to the size of the unique constriction of this filtration path. As a result, in the case of an infinitely thin hypothetical nonwoven geotextile, the opening size distribution curve is identical to the constriction size distribution curve (Figure 10a, Curve 4). Then, consider the case of an infinitely thick hypothetical nonwoven geotextile. In this geotextile, each filtration path contains an infinite number of constrictions. Therefore, in the case of this geotextile, there is a 100% probability that all constriction sizes are present in each filtration path. Therefore, each filtration path contains the smallest constriction, C0 . When a filtration path contains the smallest constriction, this constriction is of course the controlling constriction. Therefore, in the case of an infinitely thick hypothetical nonwoven geotextile, all the filtration paths have the same controlling constriction, hence the same opening size (O0 = On = O100 = Cn). Therefore, the opening size distribution curve of this geotextile is a vertical line (Figure 10a, Curve 1). In other words, in the case of an infinitely thick hypothetical nonwoven geotextile, all filtration paths have the same opening size which is the opening size of the geotextile. Finally, the case of a nonwoven geotextile with a finite thickness is considered. Elementary calculations show that, in a typical nonwoven geotextile, the number of filtration paths is greater than 100/cm2. Therefore, if the considered specimen is large enough to be representative, it contains a very large (quasi infinite) number of filtration paths. The probability that at least one filtration path contains the smallest constriction is virtually 100%. When a filtration path contains the smallest constriction this constriction is, of course, the controlling constriction, i.e. the opening size of the filtration path. The filtration path which has an opening size equal to the size of the smallest constriction is, of course, the filtration path that has the smallest opening size. Therefore, O0 = C0 . In a given filtration path, the number of constrictions, in the case of a typical nonwoven geotextile, is not very large (for example, between 10 and 50). Therefore, the probability that the smallest constriction can be present in all filtration paths is much smaller than 100%. As a result, a certain number of filtration paths have a controlling constriction (i.e. an opening) greater than C0 . The largest value that a constriction may have is C100 ; therefore, the largest value that any opening could have is C100 . However, for a filtration path to have such an opening, it would be necessary that all the constrictions of this filtration path be equal to C100 . But, in a given filtration path, the probability that all the constrictions be equal to C100 is virtually zero. Therefore, the maximum opening size that a filtration path may have (i.e. the maximum opening in the filter) is smaller than the maximum constriction size (O100 < C100). The relationship thus demonstrated between the constriction size distribution curve and the opening size distribution curve of a nonwoven geotextile with a finite thickness is illustrated in Figure 10b. The opening size distribution curve of a nonwoven geotextile of finite thickness is also illustrated in Figure 10a by two curves that correspond to two geotextiles of finite thickness, one thicker (Curve 2), the other one thinner (Curve 3). Finally, it is important to note that, in Figure 10a, Curve 4 which is the opening size distribution curve for the infinitely thin nonwoven geotextile is also the constriction size distribution curve for all four nonwoven geotextiles. A woven geotextile and an infinitely thin nonwoven geotextile have one point in common: since they both contain only one constriction in each filtration path, their opening size distribution curve is identical to their constriction size distribution curve. There is, however, a large difference between the two materials: the constriction/opening size distribution curve of a woven (Figure 11a) is vertical (ideal woven where all the openings are rigorously identical) or quasi vertical (actual woven), whereas the curve for an infinitely thin
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nonwoven (Figure 10a, Curve 4) indicates by its inclination the variety of constriction and opening sizes in a nonwoven. From a didactic viewpoint, it is interesting to compare a very thick nonwoven geotextile and a woven geotextile. Both have an opening size distribution curve which is almost vertical (Figure 12a for the nonwoven and Figure 11a for the woven) and one may assume, for the sake of the discussion, that both geotextiles have the same opening size distribution curve (hence, the same filtration opening size). It is very important to note that, although they are characterized by the same filtration opening size, these two geotextiles retain soil particles in a different way. Indeed, when a particle is retained by the filter, it is retained at the surface of the filter in the case of the woven geotextile (Figure 11b), whereas in the case of the nonwoven geotextile the particle is retained, in the filter, at a certain level which depends on the filtration path (Figure 12b). Therefore, different filtration mechanisms may take place in two geotextile filters that have not only the same opening size but also the same opening size distribution curve: this is because these two geotextiles have constriction size distribution curves that are very different, a vertical or quasi vertical curve for the woven (Figure 11a) and a very inclined curve for the nonwoven (Figure 12a). The current retention criteria only take into account the opening size of the geotextile filter. One may conclude from the foregoing discussions that an ideal retention criterion should take into account the opening size distribution curve (instead of only taking into account the opening size of the geotextile which is only the largest of the openings of the considered geotextile) as well as the constriction size distribution curve. At the present time, such a criterion does not exist. One may however use the constriction size and opening size distribution curves to qualitatively analyze the mechanism of filtration, which gives useful information, as shown in the next section. 4.4 Analysis of the Filtration Mechanism Considering the Structure of Geotextile Filters Consider the two curves defined in Section 4.2 that represent the structure of geotextile filters, the constriction size distribution curve (which characterizes the material of which the geotextile is made) and the opening size distribution curve (which characterizes the geotextile). Both curves are cumulative probability curves. Thus, the constriction size distribution curve gives the probability, PC , that a particle of size d will be retained at the surface of the geotextile and, correlatively, the probability, 1 PC, that the particle will not be retained at the surface of the geotextile (Figure 13). The particles which are not retained at the surface of the geotextile either are retained in the geotextile or pass through the geotextile, and the opening size distribution curve makes it possible to distinguish between those two possibilities: the opening size distribution curve gives the probability, PO , that a particle will be retained on or in the geotextile and, correlatively, the probability 1 PO that a particle will not be retained, i.e. will pass through the geotextile (Figure 13). Thus, the following probabilities can be defined: probability that a particle will pass through the geotextile, PPASS = 1 PO ; probability that a particle will be retained in the geotextile, PIN = PO PC ; probability that a particle will be retained on the geotextile, PON = PC ; and probability that a particle will be retained in or on the geotextile, PRETAIN = PO = PON + PIN . Four situations can be considered depending on the size, d, of a particle relative to the extremities of the two curves (O0 , O100 , C0 and C100 ): (i) if d > C100 , the particle is retained at the surface of the geotextile because, in this case, there is no constriction larger than d (PRETAIN = PON = 1 = 100%, PPASS = 0); (ii) if O100 < d < C100 , the particle cannot pass through the geotextile because there is no filtration path with an opening size greater than d, and the particle either remains at the surface of the geotextile or moves into the geotextile until it meets a constriction that stops it (PRETAIN = PON + PIN = 1 = 100%, PPASS = 0); (iii) if O0 < d < O100 , the particle has all of three possibilities, it can be retained in or on the geotextile or it can pass through the geotextile (PON + PIN + PPASS = 1 = 100%); and (iv) if d < O0 , the particle passes through the geotextile (PRETAIN = 0, PPASS = 1 = 100%). 4.5 Use of the Curves to Compare Modes of Retention by Different Geotextiles The probabilities indicated above and illustrated in Figure 13 can be used to compare the mode of particle retention by different geotextiles. To make this comparison rationally, one should remember that retention is a complex mechanism that includes the retention of skeleton particles and the non-retention of fine particles (see Section 3.1). Therefore, to make this comparison, two particles will be considered: a fine particle of size df and a skeleton particle of size ds . To take into account the bridging by the skeleton particles (Figure 5b), the size of the skeleton particle considered in the comparison will be multiplied by a factor (hence a factored size ds ). Two nonwoven geotextiles, one thin the other one thick, are compared in Figure 14. For the sake of the comparison, it is assumed that the two geotextiles have the same filtration opening size, O100 . This is a typical situation faced by a designer who has to make a choice between two apparently equivalent

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geotextiles. (It should be noted that two geotextiles having different thicknesses can have the same O100 only if they have different constriction size distribution curves, i.e. if they are made from different nonwoven materials. This will be discussed in greater deteail in Section 4.6.) It is seen in Figure 14 that a particle of size ds such that its factored size is greater than the filtration opening size (ds > O100 ) is: (i) more likely to be retained on the geotextile in the case of a thin nonwoven than in the case of a thick nonwoven; and (ii) correlatively more likely to be retained in the geotextile in the case of a thick nonwoven than in the case of a thin nonwoven. It is also seen in Figure 14 that a fine particle (df) has a greater probability of being retained in the case of a thin nonwoven than in the case of a thick nonwoven (both geotextiles having the same filtration opening size, O100). However, if a particle is smaller than the smallest opening size (i.e. the smallest of the two values of O0 ), it has a 100% probability of passing through both geotextiles. To use the method described above, and illustrated in Figure 14, to select a geotextile filter, the designer must evaluate the consequences of the identified mode of retention. As a tentative guidance, the following comments can be made: (i) as pointed out in Section 3.1, the filter should prevent the skeleton particles from moving; this goal is better achieved if the skeleton particles are retained on than if they are retained in the filter; as shown by Figure 14, this requirement has a higher probability to be fulfilled by a thinner than by a thicker nonwoven (if both have the same filtration opening size); and (ii) as also pointed out in Section 3.1, some particles smaller than the skeleton particles should pass through the geotextile filter; as shown by Figure 14, this requirement has a higher probability to be fulfilled by a thicker than by a thinner nonwoven (if both have the same filtration opening size) regarding particles whose size is between the smallest of the two O0 and O100 ; however, if the fine particle size is less than the smallest of the two O0 , the two geotextiles are equivalent. The method illustrated in Figure 14 can be extended to the case where the size of the skeleton particles varies between two known limits. (This is the case where the particle size distribution of the soil varies from one point to another, e.g. along the longitudinal direction of the structure in which the considered filter is to be used.) This case is illustrated in Figure 15. It appears from this figure that the various retention probabilities are proportional to the areas delimitated by the axes and the two curves, the constriction size distribution curve and the opening size distribution curve. Figure 15a illustrates the case where all of the particle sizes in the range of skeleton particles are greater than the filtration opening size of the filter (ds > O100 ). As previouly described (Figure 14), in this case, the skeleton particles are more likely to be retained on the geotextile in the case of a thin nonwoven than in the case of a thick nonwoven. Figure 15b illustrates the case where the range of skeleton particles includes sizes that are smaller than the filtration opening size of the filter (ds < O100 ). It appears that, in this case, the amount or particles likely to pass through the geotextile is greater in the case of the thick nonwoven geotextile than in the case of the thin nonwoven geotextile. The method illustrated in Figures 14 and 15 can also be used for woven geotextiles. In the case of a woven geotextile, the constriction size distribution curve and the opening size distribution curve are identical and, therefore, PRETAIN = PON . Furthermore, the constriction/opening size distribution curve is almost vertical and, as a result, if the skeleton particles happen to be smaller than the filtration opening size, O100 , the skeleton particles are very likely to pass through the geotextile filter. Therefore, a woven geotextile filter is more sensitive than a nonwoven geotextile filter to variations of the soil particle size distribution curve. The foregoing discussions show that the constriction size distribution curve and the opening size distribution curve provide the filter designer with a useful method. Only a few examples of the use of this method were presented; others can be envisioned. From the examples presented, it appears that there may be some advantages in using thin nonwoven geotextiles. However, it should be noted that the above examples are only qualitative. The method described above can be effectively used if quantitative data on the constriction size distribution curve and the opening size distribution curve are available. This is discussed in the next section. 4.6 Structural Parameters Having an Influence on the Openings of Nonwoven Geotextile Filters A theoretical model of the structure of nonwoven geotextiles (Giroud, 1996) has made it possible to develop a chart that provides relationships between the following parameters for nonwoven geotextile filters: the filtration opening size, the thickness of the geotextile, the diameter of the fibers, and the porosity of the geotextile (Figure 16). This chart is in good agreement with the results of numerous tests performed on nonwoven geotextile filters (Giroud, 1996). The chart also gives an approximate value of the average number of constrictions that a particle traveling through a nonwoven geotextile filter can be expected to pass through. Figure 16 shows that, for a given nonwoven material characterized by its porosity, the filtration opening sizes that correspond to geotextiles of different thicknesses made with this nonwoven material, decrease for
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increasing thicknesses (solid curves in Figure 16). The chart also shows that: (i) the rate of filtration opening size decrease as a function of geotextile thickness becomes very small (in other words, the filtration opening size values tend to reach a plateau) when the geotextile thickness is such that the average number of constrictions exceeds approximately 25 (which corresponds to a geotextile thickness/fiber diameter ratio of 80 for a porosity of 0.9); and (ii) for values of the average number of constrictions less than approximately 15 (which corresponds to a geotextile thickness/fiber diameter ratio of 50 for a porosity of 0.9), the filtration opening size becomes extremely large, which indicates that the range of opening sizes of the various filtration paths of the geotextile becomes extremely broad; in other words, the geotextile becomes very heterogenous. (This is consistent with the comparison of thin and thick geotextiles presented in Section 4.5 .) On the basis of these two results from the chart, the following may be concluded for the case of a nonwoven geotextile: (i) any thickness in excess of 80 times the fiber diameter (for a typical porosity of 0.9) does not appear to provide any significant benefit regarding the geotextile characteristics relevant to filtration; and (ii) any thickness less than 50 times the fiber diameter (for a typical porosity of 0.9) is not recommended due to the risk of heterogeneity of the geotextile characteristics relevant to filtration. The chart also provides a simple method to evaluate the decrease of the filtration opening size of a nonwoven geotextile filter due to a thickness reduction resulting from applied compressive stresses (dashed curves in Figure 16). This is a very useful design tool. Finally, it is interesting to note that the horizontal asymptotes of the solid curves in Figure 16 correspond to the case of the infinitely thick hypothetical nonwoven geotextile used in the demonstrations presented in Section 4.3. Therefore, the filtration opening size that corresponds to the horizontal asymptotes in Figure 16 is a theoretical value of the smallest opening size and the smallest constriction size. Research is underway to develop a method to experimentally determine the size of the constrictions of nonwoven geotextiles. It will be interesting to check if the measured values are consistent with the chart of Figure 16. On the other hand, the chart does not provide information on the size of the largest constrictions because the theoretical model used to establish the chart presented in Figure 16 is not valid for extremely small values of the geotextile thickness/fiber diameter ratio (e.g. tGT / df < 10). 4.7 Conclusions Regarding Filter Characteristics From the information presented in Section 4, it appears that considerable progress has been made in the recent years regarding the understanding of filtration mechanisms in geotextiles and regarding the knowledge of the structure of nonwoven geotextiles. While further research is still needed on these subjects, it is time to put the knowledge we have today into practice. It has been shown that, to develop a good understanding of filtration mechanisms, it is necessary to use the entire opening size distribution curve, and not only the filtration opening size, and that it is also necessary to use the constriction size distribution curve. Filter design approaches based on these curves suffer at the present time from a lack of quantitative data; however, examples of uses of these approaches presented in Section 4 show that it is already possible to use them to select between two types of geotextiles which are considered as equivalent, based on current criteria. Regarding the structure of nonwoven geotextiles, the chart given in Figure 16 provides a wealth of information useful to manufacturers of geotextiles and designers of geotechnical structures. Manufacturers should consider, in particular, the information on the influence of parameters such as fiber diameter, nonwoven material porosity, and geotextile thickness on the filtration opening size, which should make it possible to adjust manufacturing parameters to meet specific requirements for geotextile filters. The designers should appreciate, in particular, the simple method provided by the chart in Figure 16 for predicting the opening size of a nonwoven geotextile buried and compressed under tens of meters of soil. The thickness of nonwoven geotextile filters is an important topic. The information provided by Section 4 can be summarized in two points: (i) from the data provided on the structure of nonwoven geotextiles, it appears that it is not advisable to use as a filter a nonwoven geotextile whose thickness is less than 50 times the fiber diameter and that a thickness more than 80 times the fiber diameter does not seem to bring any significant advantage; and (ii) the analysis of the filtration mechanism, performed by associating the constriction size distribution curve and the opening size distribution curve, shows qualitatively that, in some practical cases, a thin nonwoven may be more advantageous than a thicker nonwoven (this point requires more detailed studies using additional quantitative data on the structure of nonwoven geotextiles). The conclusion that can be drawn by combining the two above points is that, in some typical cases, a nonwoven geotextile filter whose thickness is between 50 and 80 times the fiber diameter is a defensible choice in the present state of knowledge.

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5 CONDITIONS FOR THE SUCCESS OF GEOTEXTILE FILTERS IN THEIR APPLICATIONS 5.1 An Adequate Design is Necessary But Is Not Sufficient Sections 3 and 4 present proven methods and provide new information which allow the engineer to perform a reliable design of geotextile filters. However, it is important to understand that a design which is performed as an abstract exercise which would consist only of implementing the methods presented in Sections 3 and 4 would not be sufficient for at least three reasons. First, there are generally several possible options for designing a filter and it is necessary to evaluate the impact of the selected option on the structure in which the filter will be used. Second, a geotextile filter must be installed properly and this is more subtle than it would seem at first sight. Third, a geotextile filter must resist a variety of physical, mechanical and chemical actions, during its installation or in service, to be able to perform its function until the end of the service life of the structure. The three above points will be addressed in the following paragraphs, which will show that today we have a clear understanding of what ensures the success of a geotextile filter not only on paper, but also in the field, and not only the day the structure is designed, but also during the entire service life of the structure. 5.2 The Geotextile Filter in the Structure That Surrounds It A filter is never alone. It is always located between two materials which themselves belong to a structure. The conceptual design of a filtration system can only be done properly if the interactions between the filter and the adjacent materials, as well as between the filter and the structure, are taken into account. Several aspects must be considered: (i) the potential problems posed by the soils located upstream of the filter; (ii) the conditions imposed by the materials located downstream of the filter; (iii) the problems likely to result from variations of soil characteristics in the longitudinal direction of the structure; and, finally, (iv) the detrimental effects that the presence of the geotextile filter could have on the behavior of the structure. These four aspects are discussed below. The soils located upstream of the filter are likely to pose very serious problems, as discussed in Section 2. In summary: (i) there are internally unstable soils that prevent the adequate functioning of any filter; (ii) it is therefore important not to place filters in the presence of such soils, if necessary by using other soils or by changing the conceptual design of the structure where the filter is to be used; and (iii) today there are available methods to identify these soils, which makes it possible to avoid the problems that they may pose. It is important that this message be received and understood not only by the designers, but also by the contractors. Indeed, one should bear in mind the story of the overzealous contractor mentioned in Section 2.1, the contractor who thought it was a good thing to add a geotextile. It is necessary to make sure that contractors are well informed of the detrimental consequences that may result from geotextiles that are not at the right place. This information should allow contractors to understand that it is out of the question to try in the field design improvements not approved by the designer, especially if these improvements are inspired by common sense which is already responsible for enough mistakes. The soils or other materials located downstream of the filter are not, in general, likely to pose serious problems for the functioning of the filter, such as the soils located upstream. However, they are often likely to impose conditions that may influence the filter selection. For example, if the drainage material located immediately downstream of the filter is a geosynthetic of the geonet type (or similar), i.e. a material that is thin (compared to a layer of gravel) and if the soil located upstream contains fine particles likely to migrate, it is essential that the filter does not allow many fine particles to pass because the geosynthetic drain, due to its thinness, does not need many fine particles to get clogged. In such a case, the best solution is, if it is possible, to recommend that the soil located upstream of the filter be replaced by a soil that does not contain fines likely to migrate. If this is not possible, the engineer who designs the filtration system can either: (i) replace the geosynthetic drain by a layer of gravel (sufficiently thick to contain, without significant loss of transmissivity, all the fine particles likely to migrate from the upstream soil) or by a perforated pipe which can be cleaned out; or (ii) choose a filter that stops a large number of fine particles (and, consequently, tends to clog) to protect the geosynthetic drain. This last solution is possible only if the engineer has determined that clogging of the filter (at least partial clogging) is acceptable (i.e. not likely to generate unacceptable consequences for the structure). Of course, the above discussion is only applicable if the soil located upstream of the filter contains fine particles likely to move; in other cases, geosynthetic drains constitute a viable solution. Another condition imposed by a geosynthetic drain is that the filter not be too thick and compressible so it will not significantly penetrate, under the effect of the normal stresses, into the voids of the geosynthetic drain and reduce its hydraulic transmissivity to an unacceptable level. This condition regarding the thickness and compressibility of the filter is, in many practical cases, in conflict with other considerations related to the selection of the geotextile filter; in such cases, the engineer must make a
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choice or a compromise. Another example of a material located downstream of a filter than may affect the filter selection is a perforated pipe: in all cases where a geotextile filter is required around a perforated pipe, the selected geotextile must have sufficient transmissivity to convey water toward the perforations of the pipe. These many examples show that it is important, during the conceptual design phase of a filtration system, to take into account the material located downstream of the filter. The soil located upstream of a filter may have characteristics that change along the longitudinal direction of the structure: this is an important point that one tends to forget because, during the conceptual design phase of a filtration system, one considers in general only a transverse cross-section of the structure without paying special attention to what happens in the other direction. The problem of the variation of soil characteristics in the longitudinal direction occurs in many cases of filtration systems located in natural ground such as drains along roads and in bank protections. For practical reasons, it is preferable to specify only one type of filter for a given filtration system unless the soil characteristics vary excessively from one location to another. As it has been shown in Section 4.5, one can use the methods described in this paper to select a type of geotextile filter which would have a greater probability than another geotextile filter to function satisfactorily in spite of variations of soil characteristics within certain limits. The detrimental effects that the presence of a geotextile filter could have on the behavior of the structure must be considered with great attention. In particular, one must evaluate the consequences that may result from a malfunctioning, even slight, of the filter. For example, a decrease in permeability of the filter due to clogging would not have the same consequences in a dam and in a solid waste landfill. Also, one should not forget that any geosynthetic which performs, satisfactorily or not, a function (e.g. the filtration function) in a structure may have a detrimental effect on some aspects of the behavior of the structure that are not related to the function performed by the geosynthetic. For example, a geotextile filter may act as a potential slip surface which could dangerously decrease the factor of safety for the stability of the structure. It is therefore essential that these potential problems be borne in mind by the designers of filtration systems: they must not only avoid, at the conceptual design phase, the dangerous situations where these problems could occur, they should also, which is most subtle and requires designers with field experience, prepare specifications which discourage contractors from being overzealous. Indeed, we have seen contractors extending geotextiles beyond the specified limits, believing that they were doing well by not cutting off an excessive length of geotextile at the end of the roll without thinking that by doing so they were creating a problem affecting the behavior of the structure. 5.3 A Poor Installation May Prevent the Best Geotextile Filter from Functioning One of the reasons for the success of geotextile filters is, as we have often heard, the ease of installation. Indeed, there are plenty of examples: installing a granular filter on a steep slope is difficult, almost impossible, whereas installing a geotextile filter is so easy; installing a sand filter in a gravel-filled drainage trench is quasi impossible, whereas installing a geotextile filter is so easy; placing a granular filter next to a geosynthetic drain is absurd because that would require a graded filter whose thickness and draining capacity would exceed those of the geosynthetic drain, whereas installing a geotextile filter next to a geosynthetic drain is so easy. Who would have thought 40 years ago that installing a synthetic material would become so natural? Also, geotextiles have been rightfully praised for having characteristics that are more consistent than those of granular materials due to the modern quality control methods used during geotextile manufacturing: it is logically concluded that geotextiles are more reliable filters than granular materials, an important conclusion considering that reliability is essential regarding filtration. It is clear that geotextile filters are usually easy to install. However, it is essential that installation be such that the geotextile filter can play the two fundamental roles included in its function (see Section 1.2): the geotextile must be installed in such a way that it allows water to pass and that it retains the soil. First, a geotextile filter must not have its permeability reduced during installation. To that end, it must be protected from dust and more importantly from mud during storage and placement. It is also possible to select a geotextile filter which will be unclogged relatively easily by the first flow of water which will pass through it if it has been clogged by dust or mud during installation: research is underway on this subject (Artires and Faure, 1997). Second, the geotextile filter must be placed in such a way that it can effectively retain the soil; this important point is addressed in the following discussion. As seen in Section 3.1, to ensure retention of the soil, a filter must prevent the skeleton particles from moving and, as seen in Section 2.1, a filter in a geotechnical structure must never be in a situation where it stops particles that are moving. For these two reasons, it is clear that the filter must be in intimate contact with the soil, as it has always been recommended by the author of this paper (Giroud, 1982b; 1989). One can never emphasize enough that this point is absolutely essential. Two cases must be considered, depending on whether the filter is placed before or after the soil located upstream. If the geotextile filter is

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placed first, the soil must be compacted on or against the filter which is easy but must be done with great care in order not to damage the geotextile. If the geotextile filter is placed after the soil, which is, of course, the case if the soil is the natural soil, the placement of the geotextile filter must be done with great care to ensure intimate contact between the geotextile and the soil. Two conditions must then be met: (i) the geotextile filter must be flexible enough to conform to the irregularities of the soil surface, and the geotextile deformation required to conform to the soil surface must not significantly affect the openings of the filter; and (ii) the material located downstream of the geotextile filter must exert on the geotextile filter a compressive stress sufficiently high and uniform to press the geotextile against the soil. In the case of a drainage trench, a small gravel (for example 20 mm or less) is generally appropriate (Figure 17a) provided that the geotextile is flexible, whereas a coarse gravel (Figure 17b) and the rigid core of a geocomposite drain (Figure 17c) are generally not appropriate (because they do not apply a uniform compressive stress). In the case of bank protection, it is recommended to place a layer of gravel (Figure 18) on the geotextile filter to apply a uniform stress in order to ensure intimate contact between the geotextile and the soil. This layer of gravel has the additional benefit of protecting the geotextile against mechanical damage during the placement of the blocks and from ultraviolet radiation passing through the blocks. A filter may be required between this gravel layer and the blocks to prevent the gravel from being washed through the blocks by wave action (Figure 18). Of course, the condition of intimate contact with the soil implies that the geotextile filter be continuous, i.e. have no holes: this requires that the geotextile filter be placed with overlaps that are sufficiently wide and properly designed in order not to separate during construction or later as a result of the deformations due to the applied loads; this also requires that the geotextile filter resist mechanical, physical and chemical actions which could damage it, as discussed in the next section. 5.4 The Geotextile Filter Must Resist Actions Likely to Damage It or Deform It A geotextile filter must resist a variety of mechanical, physical and chemical actions which could have two types of detrimental effects: (i) they could damage the geotextile filter; and/or (ii) they could deform the geotextile filter, which could cause a modification of its openings. These two types of detrimental effects are discussed below. The mechanical actions likely to damage a geotextile filter manifest themselves mostly during construction and have two main causes: (i) the direct action of construction equipment (e.g. the puncture and tear of a geotextile by the blade of a bulldozer); and (ii) the concentrated stresses linked to the size and the angularity of the soil particles in contact with the geotextile and resulting from the applied loads. These loads are dynamic loads due to the traffic of construction equipment on the soil layer located on top of the geotextile and static loads due to the weight of the soil progressively placed on top of the geotextile. The mechanical actions mentioned above may cause rupture of the geotextile by puncture, tear, grab, or burst. There are standard tests that simulate those four modes of rupture. Systematic studies have made it possible to develop correlations between the results of those tests and the resistance of geotextiles to installation stresses. Thus, survivability criteria, related to various installation situations, were established. The results of puncture, tear, grab and burst tests performed on a given geotextile must show that the geotextile exhibits a resistance which is greater than that specified in the survivability criteria. A geotextile filter can be damaged during construction (and after, if it is not covered with a soil layer) by the action of the ultraviolet radiation of sunlight which, after a period of several weeks to several months depending on the type of geotextile, may result in holes having a size of several square centimeters in the geotextile filter (Tisinger et al., 1994). Some chemical products may have a similar effect. In service, a geotextile can be damaged by abrasion if it is exposed to repeated actions (movement of blocks due to wave action for geotextile filters used in bank protection, traffic of railroad cars for geotextile filters used in railroad tracks) or if it is exposed to wind. It should be noted that the resistance of a geotextile to abrasion is a function, among other parameters, of the size of its fibers, which may be in contradiction, in certain cases, with the need for using small diameter fibers to obtain a small filtration opening size, as indicated by the chart presented in Figure 16. All the mechanical, physical and chemical actions described above result in geotextile damage in the form of holes which, of course, prevent a geotextile from performing its filtration function properly. In addition to these destructive actions, one must consider the deformations caused by the stresses that exist in all geotechnical structures. From the viewpoint of filtration, the potentially detrimental deformations are those which are likely to cause changes in the openings of the geotextile filters. One should distinguish between the compressive stresses and the tensile stresses. Concerning the compressive stresses, it is clear that they must have little effect on the geotextiles which are not very compressible, such as the wovens and the heat-bonded nonwovens. In contrast, they have a marked effect on needle-punched nonwovens. These geotextiles are compressible and, consequently, their thickness decreases when the compressive stress
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increases. As a result, the size of the filter openings decreases. This effect can be quantified using the chart given in Figure 16 (Giroud, 1996). In contrast, the effect of tensile stress is not well known, which is very regrettable because these stresses can be locally high, in particular where a geotextile filter deforms to conform to irregularities of the soil surface. Some tests are mentioned in the literature, but, to the best knowledge of the author, no systematic study is available that makes it possible to draw clear conclusions. From a theoretical standpoint, it is possible to propose the following tentative rationale: (i) in case of a bidirectional tension, the openings should increase in the direction of proposed tensile stresses and, in the case of a thick nonwoven, should decrease in the direction perpendicular (i.e. the direction normal to the plane of the geotextile); therefore, it may be concluded that a bi-directional tensile stress should increase the size of the openings in the case of thin (bi-dimensional) materials such as the wovens and the heat-bonded nonwovens, but it is not possible to draw any conclusion in the case of thick materials (a three-dimensional) such as the needle-punched nonwovens; and (ii) the case a uni-directional tension is much more complex; if the uni-directional tension is applied on a small specimen, the size of the openings should increase in the direction of the tensile stress and should decrease in the perpendicular direction(s); therefore, from the viewpoint of filtration, since it is the smallest dimension of an opening that governs the passage of particles, one may conclude that a uni-directional tensile stress applied on a small specimen should result in a decrease of the openings; in reality, the geotextile is not a small specimen and a zone of uni-directional tension generates, in its vicinity, the formation of zones of bi-directional tension where the filter openings tend to decrease or increase, depending on the type of geotextile, as it has been explained above. It is desirable that systematic tests be conducted to verify if the tentative rationale presented above is consistent with reality. 6 CONCLUSION 6.1 A Considerable Experience and an In-Depth Understanding of the Phenomenon Nearly forty years after the first use of a geotextile filter, we have accumulated considerable experience resulting from the use of geotextile filters in thousands of projects. Some of these projects, which have experienced problems, teach us what should not be done; so many other projects are successes that remind us that geotextile filters are reliable. The international community of engineers and researchers has been remarkably active, analyzing not only the problems, but also the successes as shown by the number of studies published on Valcros Dam which has contributed to the development of a body of knowledge much deeper than what it would be if only case histories were recorded. However, in dealing with a phenomenon as complex as filtration, even considerable experience is not sufficient. The majority of mistakes made in using geotextile filters result from a lack of understanding of the phenomenon rather than from the defective materials. An in-depth analysis of the nature of the phenomenon is, therefore, necessary. It happens that filtration has, in all ages, fascinated the human mind. For example, the invention of the sieve has been one of the most brilliant manifestations of the awakening of intelligence because it required a remarkable intellectual approach, which resulted in mastering the complex relationship between the goal and the tool (separation of three-dimensional discrete elements by a continuous bi-dimensional tool composed of uni-dimensional elements) and in imposing on the user a very strict mode of operation without which the goal could not be reached for lack of abiding by the physical laws that govern the passage of particles through an orifice. We have since learned to recognize that there are various types of filtration and that, for example, the phenomenon of filtration of a soil in a geotechnical structure is drastically different from the phenomenon of the passage of particles through a sieve. Thus, we have learned that soil retention does not consist of stopping the soil particles, but of preventing them from moving, and even not all of them: we have learned that it is sufficient to prevent certain particles from moving, the particles that form the soil skeleton, in order to allow those particles to ensure, in turn, the formation of a self-filter which will retain the soil. We have also learned that, to retain the soil while allowing water to pass, it is necessary to allow certain soil particles to pass through the filter. In other words, we have learned that the retention of soil as a whole had to be associated with the non-retention of certain particles. We have also learned how to use, in soils, filters with a structure more complex than that of a sieve: the nonwoven geotextile filters. In fact, the structure of nonwoven geotextile is comparable by its quasi random nature to that of the soil, and the role played by the third dimension, the thickness, in the functioning of an essentially bi-dimensional element such as a filter is a challenge for the modern mind as formidable as that presented by the concept of the sieve for our ancestors. This challenge has been met in great part, and we have learned that the notion of thickness of a geotextile filter is only meaningful if it is compared to the diameter of fibers: a minimum value of the filter thickness/fiber diameter ratio is required to ensure that the nonwoven geotextile filter is homogeneous, but a large value of this ratio may be detrimental. More

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generally, we have learned how to quantify the influence of structural parameters of geotextiles on their filtration characteristics, which provides useful guidance to geotextile manufacturers. Therefore, one may hope that this will encourage the production of new geotextile filters. 6.2 Reliable Methods and Products Although it is comforting for the user to know that filtration is a well-established science and not a mysterious art, this is not sufficient. The author of this communication, who is, above all, a practicing engineer knows that very well. The user wants to count on reliable products and needs reliable methods for the application of these products. There are two ways for a product to be reliable: in its constitution and in its behavior. A product made available to the user must abide by rigorous specifications, and nobody disputes that, with the modern methods of quality control, the geotextile filters are more reliable than the natural granular filters (sand or gravel). To be reliable in its behavior, a filter must not be too sensitive to variations of the conditions under which it is used. It has been shown in this paper that, today, there are methods available for selecting a geotextile filter that is less sensitive than another to variations of soil characteristics as well as for selecting a geotextile filter that does not suffer excessively from damage during construction and in service. Regarding the application of geotextile filters, this paper has shown that there are reliable methods for the conceptual design, the detailed design and the installation. Regarding the conceptual design, today we know how to identify, hence, how to avoid, the dangerous soils that prevent filters from performing properly in geotechnical structures; it is important to note that this information has been disseminated in publications that are accessible to modern designers and which were quoted in Section 2 of this paper. Regarding the detailed design, retention criteria are available today which take into account not only the size of the soil particles but also other soil characteristics that govern retention, as shown in Section 3 of this paper. It is regrettable that the weight of traditions has, so far, prevented certain committees from recommending such criteria. The users expect, and rely on, guidance from committees whose mission is to guide. For the committees whose past action has been inspired by tradition, an update is required in the light of the considerable progress that was made in the area of filtration this last twenty years. From this viewpoint, it is interesting to note that, while tradition dictates to always look toward geotechnical engineering to seek inspiration or information, it is the impetus given to filtration by the success of geotextiles which has provided the motivation for the most fruitful research in the field of filtration these last twenty years. Therefore, it is within the community of those interested in geosynthetics that one may have access to the useful information. Fortunately, this is a well organized community where information flows. It should also be noted that, in addition to the proven methods that make it possible to perform an adequate design of geotextile filters, this paper has presented in Section 4 results of recent research that provide useful information for the design of filtration systems in certain critical cases as well as for the selection of geotextile filters. Regarding installation, recommendations concerning field considerations that may have an impact on filter performance are presented in Section 5. In particular, one can never emphasize enough the importance of an intimate contact between the geotextile filter and the soil, and a geotextile filter which conforms well to the irregularities of the soil should be selected. 6.3 A Clear Vision of the Complexity of the Filtration Phenomenon In spite of the effort that was made in this paper to present the subject of filtration in a simple way, it remains that filtration of soil in a geotechnical structure is a complex phenomenon. Therefore, one should beware of any approach that is not rigorous. Though it is legitimate from the part of the user to want simple methods, it is not appropriate to give the user simplistic methods. This is a point that the committees should keep in mind when they proceed with the so necessary update that was mentioned above. If it is important to be conscious of the inherent complexity of filtration, this should not be a reason or a pretext for not using geotextile filters. Unfortunately, a number of people have a negative reaction considering complexity. There are those who take shelter under common sense which gives them the illusion of simplicity, or who take shelter under tradition which gives them the illusion of safety. There are also those who are disoriented by not finding in the discipline of filtration the comfort that mathematics brings to other disciplines. There are those who think that the mechanism of filtration using geotextiles is too subtle to be reliable and do not want to take the risk of using a technique where the difference between success and failure appears to them to rely on so little. (It is tempting to paraphrase this as follows: regarding filtration with geotextiles there is a fine line between what passes and what does not pass). There are also those who do not want to take the risk of using geotextile filters because they are haunted by the specter of clogging. To date, as shown in this paper, this complexity which frightens some people has been mastered:
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we know how to make the choices that govern the difference between success and failure of a filter and, in particular, means are available to avoid clogging as well as other potential modes of malfunctioning of geotextile filters. Reading this paper should convince those who do not want to take the risk of using a geotextile filter that they deprive themselves from a technique likely to be more reliable than the traditional technique which they prefer to use. One may thus conclude that, in the present state of knowledge, those who do not want to take the risk of using geotextile filters take a greater risk by not using them. 6.4 A Last Word Filtration hides complex mechanisms behind a facade of simplicity. What an ideal prey for common sense that revels in first impressions and arrives with its usual following of mistakes! Some of these mistakes have been legitimized by tradition which often prefers common sense to analysis there is no shortage of examples, is not the earth flat according to common sense? However, the analyses and research triggered by the fascinating complexity of filtration mechanisms have led to the present body of knowledge, a body of knowledge which results in the fact that, with geotextile filters, we have a remarkably reliable technique. It remains to communicate this message to as many people as possible. From this viewpoint there is nothing to fear: if the function of a filter is to retain the soil while allowing water to pass, the subject of filtration is able to retain attention while allowing a lot of ink to flow freely. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author expresses his gratitude to K.L. Soderman and B.A. Gross for their comments and to K. Holcomb and M. Ramirez for their assistance in the preparation of this paper. REFERENCES
Artires, O. and Faure, Y.H., (1997), Filtration des sols par gotextile: retour dexprience et nouveaux dveloppements Soil Filtration with Geotextile: Feedback and New Developments, Comptes Rendus de Rencontres 97 Proceedings of Rencontres 97, Volume 1, Reims, France, Octobre/October 1997, pp.105-111. (in French and English) Giroud, J.P., (1982a), Filter Criteria for Geotextiles, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Geotextiles, Vol. 1, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, August 1982, pp. 103-108. Giroud, J.P., (1982b), Discussion on Filter Criteria for Geotextiles, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Geotextiles, Vol. 4, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, August 1982, pp. 36-38. Giroud, J.P., (1988), Review of Geotextile Filter Criteria, Proceedings of the First Indian Geotextiles Conference, Bombay, India, December 1988, pp. 1-6. Giroud, J.P., (1989), Panelist Contribution on Geotextile Filters, Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Vol. 5, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 1989, pp. 3105-3106. Giroud, J.P., (1996), Granular Filters and Geotextile Filters, Proceedings of GeoFilters 96, Lafleur, J. and Rollin, A.L., Editors, Montral, Canada, May 1996, pp. 565-680. Lafleur, J., Mlynarek, J. and Rollin, A.L., (1989), Filtration of Broadly Graded Cohesionless Soils, Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, ASCE, Vol. 115, No. 12, pp. 1747-1768. Tisinger, L.G., Clark, B.S., Giroud, J.P. and Schauer, D.A., (1994),The Performance of Nonwoven Geotextiles Exposed to a Semi-Tropical Environment, Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Geotextiles, Geomembranes and Related Products, Singapore, September 1994, Vol. 3, pp. 1223-1226.

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