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349

embankment at Chek Lap Kok International

Airport in Hong Kong using a simplified finite

element method

Guofu Zhu, Jian-Hua Yin, and James Graham

Abstract: This paper models consolidation of the foundation soils under a test embankment at the new Chek Lap Kok

International Airport in Hong Kong. The modelling used a simplified finite element method and material parameters

derived from results in the original site investigation report. Various features that need to be considered in applying the

simplified method are illustrated through this case study. Good predictions of settlement results are obtained. Relatively

large discrepancies in pore-water pressure predictions suggest that the nonlinear nature of hydraulic conductivity needs

to be taken into account when large compressions are likely to occur. Geological conditions are shown to be a key factor in successful modelling of consolidation behaviour.

Key words: consolidation, pore-water pressure, case modelling, finite element method, vertical drains, settlement.

Rsum : Cet article modlise la consolidation des sols de fondation sous un remblai dessai au nouvel aroport international Chek Lap Kok de Hong Kong. La modlisation a utilis une mthode simplifie dlments finis et des paramtres du matriau drivs des rsultats du rapport de linvestigation originale du site. Diverses caractristiques qui

doivent tre considres dans lapplication de la mthode simplifie sont illustres dans cette tude de cas. De bonnes

prdictions des rsultats de tassement ont t obtenues. Des divergences relativement importantes dans les prdictions

des pressions interstitielles portent penser que la nature non linaire de la conductivit hydraulique doit tre prise en

compte lorsque des compressions importantes peuvent vraisemblablement se produire. On montre que les conditions

gologiques sont un facteur cl pour modliser avec succs le comportement en consolidation.

Mots cls : consolidation, pression interstitielle, modlisation de cas, mthode dlments finis, drains verticaux, tassement.

[Traduit par la Rdaction]

Zhu et al.

363

Introduction

Vertical drains are often installed in soft-soil engineering

projects where subsoils consist of fine-grained soils with low

hydraulic conductivity. The intention of the drains is to

shorten the drainage path and hence speed up the consolidation process.

Following derivation of the differential equation by

Rendulic (1935) for one-dimensional (1D) radial dissipation

of excess pore-water pressure, Carrillo (1942) showed that

two-dimensional (2D) flow problems can be uncoupled. As a

result, solutions to vertical and radial consolidation problems

can be combined to give solutions to the entire 2D problem.

Received January 18, 2000. Accepted October 13, 2000.

Published on the NRC Research Press Web site on

April 9, 2001.

G. Zhu and J.-H. Yin. Department of Civil and Structural

Engineering, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom,

Kowloon, Hong Kong, China.

J. Graham.1 Department of Civil and Geological

Engineering, The University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB

R3T 5V6, Canada.

1

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(1948). He assumed two types of vertical strains that might

occur in a uniform clay layer: (i) free vertical strain resulting from a uniform distribution of surface load, and

(ii) equal vertical strain resulting from imposing the same

vertical deformation on the entire surface of the clay. Later,

Horne (1964) presented a formal solution to the layered consolidation problem with vertical drains. Yoshikuni and

Nakanodo (1974) gave a rigorous solution taking well resistance into consideration. Olson (1977) obtained an approximate solution for the case of vertical drainage under ramp

loading using the equal strain assumption. Zhu and Yin

(2001) used the free-strain assumption to develop a mathematical solution for consolidation analysis of soil with vertical and horizontal drainage subject to ramped loading.

Simplified solutions were also obtained by other researchers, for example Hansbo (1981), Zeng and Xie (1989), and

Xie et al. (1994). These closed-form solutions cannot conveniently be extended to account for layered systems, timedependent loading, well resistance, variable coefficients of

consolidation, and inelastic stressstrain behaviour.

To overcome these difficulties, some researchers (Hart et

al. 1958; Olson et al. 1974; Atkinson and Elered 1981;

Onoue 1988; Lo 1991) resorted to numerical solutions using

DOI: 10.1139/cgj-38-2-349

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350

used to investigate the consolidation behaviour of soils with

vertical drains. Runesson et al. (1985) studied the efficiency

of partially penetrating vertical drains based on an assumption of linear free strains. Bergado (1993) analyzed the effects of smear zone for Bangkok clay using a linear model.

General two- and three-dimensional (2D and 3D) procedures

(Siriwardane and Desai 1981; Selvadurai 1996; Lewis and

Schrefler 1998; Cheng et al. 1998) are well developed, and

various methods of matching the effect of drains under

axisymmetric and plane strain conditions are also available

(Hird et al. 1995; Indraratna and Redana 1997). Some special problems have also been investigated, for example, the

sensitivity of consolidation behaviour to mesh discretization

and the resulting damage of the poroelastic medium

(Mahyari and Selvadurai 1998).

However, application of 2D and 3D finite element procedures for the design of vertical drains may not be practical

because of (i) difficulty in the determination of various model

parameters for 2D and 3D conditions, (ii) the large amount

of computation, and (iii) the frequent occurrence of numerical instability and convergence problems for nonlinear cases.

Recently, Zhu and Yin (2000a) used a general 1D soil

model to develop a simplified finite element (FE) procedure

for 2D consolidation analysis of soils with vertical drains.

Using a 1D soil model has the advantage that the soil parameters needed for the analysis can be easily found using conventional oedometer tests. By comparing results from the

simplified method with those from a fully coupled 3D finite

element analysis, the authors showed that the simplified FE

procedure is efficient and numerically stable.

This paper uses the simplified FE method of Zhu and Yin

(2000a) to produce true predictions of the consolidation of

foundation soils under a previously constructed test embankment at the new Chek Lap Kok International Airport in

Hong Kong. True prediction is here meant to be as much

like class A prediction as possible, although this is in fact an

after-the-fact simulation. All the parameters adopted in the

modelling were suggested in the original site investigation

report except for the coefficients of hydraulic conductivity

for the upper alluvial crust. These were estimated from the

original report.

Lessons from applying the new simplified method lead to

useful conclusions that are described later in the paper. The

following section presents a brief summary of the basic

equations and provides an understanding of how the FE consolidation model was used in this study. More details can be

found in Zhu and Yin (2000a).

Basic equations

As in Barron (1948), the consolidation problem of soils

with vertical drains is simplified to an axisymmetric one, as

shown in Fig. 1. The solution assumes (i) the soil is fully

saturated, (ii) water and soil particles are incompressible,

(iii) Darcys law is valid, (iv) strains are small, and (v) all

compressive strains within the soil mass occur in the vertical

direction. Assumption (v) can be justified as follows. In

most practical applications, vertical drains are installed in a

regular pattern at close spacing in soils where the layers are

approximately horizontal and the surface area is extensive.

Fig. 1. Geometry of the simplified model for consolidation of

soils with vertical drains. D, depth of clay layer; H, depth of

drain; r, radial coordinate; rd, equivalent radius of vertical drains;

re, equivalent radius of influence of vertical drains; z, vertical coordinate.

drains (length H) is normally much less than the dimensions

in plan. Average strains (and deformations) in soil with vertical drains occur almost exclusively in the vertical direction. Engineers are normally concerned only with the

average settlement (in plan) of soil layers with vertical

drains and give much less attention to differential settlements in the localized area surrounding a vertical drain. The

stressstrain behaviour of the soil can therefore be simplified on average to be 1D. Numerical results from the simplified method and from a fully coupled 3D finite element

analysis demonstrate that the simplification is reasonable

(Zhu and Yin 2000a).

The governing equations for finite element consolidation

modelling in this paper are given in the following sections.

The continuity equation

The continuity equation for axisymmetric consolidation

problems can be written

[1]

q =

q r q r q z v z

+

+

=

=

r

r

z

t

t

where q = (qr , qz)T; qr and qz are the radial and vertical flow

rates, respectively; v and z are the volume and vertical

strains, respectively (positive for compression); r is the radial coordinate; z is the vertical coordinate; and t is time.

The constitutive equations

Zhu and Yin (1999) wrote the general 1D constitutive

model in the form

[2]

z f ( z)

=

+ g ( z, z )

t

t

For the nonlinear elastic model used in part of this study,

[3]

f = ln

z

V

g = 0

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351

(ln-scale) and V is the specific volume.

Most of the analysis described later used the 1D elastic

viscoplastic (EVP) model suggested by Yin and Graham

(1989, 1994):

[4]

f = ln

z

exp z

g =

Vt 0

z

0

is the recompression index (ln-scale); /V is a constant related to a reference time line (approximately the normally

consolidated compression line); 0 is a constant in units of

stress locating the position of the reference time line; and

/V and t0 (in units of time) are two constants related to

creep of the soil.

Darcys law

Darcys law for axisymmetric problems can be expressed

as

[5]

qr

r

= K

u

qz

and

r 0

K = w

kz

0

w

where u is the excess pore-water pressure, K is the permeability constant, kr is the radial coefficient of permeability, kz

is the coefficient of permeability in a vertical direction, and

w is the unit weight of water.

Vertical total stress

For simplicity, the vertical total stress is calculated by assuming that shearing stresses on every cylindrical surface

are zero.

Equations [1], [2], and [5] are the governing equations for

the consolidation problem. Although the governing equations are simplified greatly by assuming z = v, these equations are still coupled in the solution. Several iterations are

required to obtain the related solutions for vertical strains

and pore-water pressures (Zhu and Yin 2000a).

Project background

In the 1970s, it was proposed to build a replacement airport for Hong Kong by levelling the islands of Chek Lap

Kok and Lam Chau and reclaiming 600 ha of land from the

sea. At the site, the seawater was up to 10 m deep and the

tidal range was 2 m. Reclamation would involve placing approximately 80 000 000 m3 of fill to a thickness of up to

20 m.

Site investigations (RMP ENCON Ltd. 1982a; Koutsoftas

et al. 1987) for the area revealed that the entire seabed is

covered by soft to very soft, dark grey, plastic, marine clay

(upper marine clay) with pockets of shells. The thickness of

the clay varies considerably over the site, from as little as

1.0 m (or less) to over 15 m, but is generally in the range of

68 m. Examination of undisturbed samples of the upper

underlain at some locations by loose to medium-dense marine sand up to 3 m thick. Underlying the upper marine clay

(and the irregular sand) is an alluvial stratum (upper alluvial

crust) consisting of interbedded layers of mottled, oxidized,

and discoloured very stiff clay and dense sand. The thickness of this deposit varies in an erratic manner over the site

but rarely exceeds 7.5 m. The third stratum is a light grey to

dark grey medium stiff to stiff clay (lower marine clay)

interbedded with medium-dense sand lenses and occasional

layers of very stiff mottled reddish and brown clay. Geologically, this is believed to have been deposited during a

period of high sea levels. Underlying the lower marine clay

is an alluvial deposit (lower alluvium) consisting primarily

of very dense, coarse to fine sands, grading into a layer of

gravel and cobbles. Occasional clay pockets are encountered

within this deposit and occasionally below the gravel. The

thickness of the lower alluvial deposit ranges from 0 to

10 m. Below the lower alluvial deposit (or the lower marine

deposit where the lower alluvium is absent) is a layer of

completely decomposed granite. The compressibility of this

layer is very small. Experiments that examined the dissipation of excess pore-water pressures demonstrate that it can

be viewed as a free-draining layer.

These soil conditions presented obvious geotechnical difficulties for the development of the new airport. The option

of removing and replacing the soft marine clay would be

very expensive, involving excavation of approximately

37 000 000 m3 of the material and transporting it for disposal about 20 km from the site. The alternative of leaving

the soft clay in place would result in settlements of up to

4 m. The settlements could be expected to extend over many

years because of the high compressibility and low permeability of the deposits. Settlement tolerance after completion

of the airport was limited, because settlements would also

cause unacceptable differential settlements. Reclamation by

simply placing fill over the soft clay might result in the development of mud waves and lead to serious construction

problems that could jeopardize the project.

To assess the feasibility of using vertical drains with fill

placement techniques that would reduce or prevent mudwave formation, an instrumented test embankment (RMP

ENCON Ltd. 1982b; Cheung and Ko 1986; Koutsoftas et al.

1987) was constructed between 1981 and 1983 on the west

shore of Chek Lap Kok Island (Fig. 2). The main test area

was a 100 m 100 m square in plan and was divided into

four quadrants. Alidrains were installed in the northwestern

and northeastern quadrants at 1.5 and 3 m triangular spacing, respectively. The Alidrains were prefabricated band-shaped

vertical drains with width b = 100 mm and thickness t =

7 mm. The bottoms of the drains were positioned at 21 m

PD (Hong Kong principal datum). Displacement sand drains

500 mm in diameter were installed in the southwestern

quadrant at 3 m triangular spacing. The southeastern quadrant was used as a control area, with no additional drains.

The fill and foundation soils were heavily instrumented

(RMP ENCON Ltd. 1982b; Handfelt et al. 1987) to monitor

their performance during and after construction. The instrumentation consisted of pneumatic and hydraulic

piezometers, settlement plates and pipes, subsurface settlement anchors, and other probes.

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Fig. 2. Plan of the test embankment at the new Chek Lap Kok

International Airport.

permits the formulations presented by Zhu and Yin (2000a)

to be used for this application. The following sections analyze

the consolidation behaviour of foundation soils in the northwestern quadrant of the test fill. The analysis uses soil parameters that were selected from data provided by the original

program of site investigation and laboratory testing. Results

of the analysis are then compared with measured values.

RMP ENCON Ltd. (1982a) and Koutsoftas et al. (1987)

reported an extensive program to determine physical and engineering properties of the major strata within the limits of

the site. The laboratory program included oedometer tests,

K0-consolidated undrained triaxial compression tests, K0consolidated undrained direct simple shear tests, unconsolidated undrained triaxial compression tests, isotropically consolidated undrained triaxial compression tests, and index

tests. Only the oedometer and index test results are used in

the following analysis of consolidation and settlement.

The oedometer tests were performed using conventional

incremental loading procedures. Generally, small load increments were used in the recompression region and until the

soil had been stressed above its maximum past (preconsolidation) pressure. Most of the tests included unloadreload cycles in the normal (first-time) compression range.

A load increment ratio of 1.0 was generally used, with each

increment being applied for approximately the time required

to achieve 90% consolidation plus 1 h. For some tests, the

loads were left on for 24 h to obtain sufficient data to define

the coefficient of secondary compression more clearly.

A number of special consolidation tests were also performed to evaluate the effects of surcharge on the coefficient

of secondary compression in the upper and lower marine

clays (RMP ENCON Ltd. 1982a; Koutsoftas et al. 1987).

These special tests required four identical test specimens to

be prepared from the same sample tube. The four specimens

Fig. 3. Definition of compressibility parameters.

were loaded using conventional incremental loading procedures to the same value of maximum vertical stress, selected

to be well into the normally consolidated region. At the end

of primary consolidation under the final load increment,

three of the four specimens were unloaded to simulate the

effect of removing various amounts of surcharge. The fourth

specimen served as the control test and was allowed to consolidate further at the applied stress level. The test specimens were monitored for a period of 3 days to collect

secondary compression data. The results allowed evaluation

of the effects of surcharge on material behaviour.

The following section reproduces test results of the seabed

strata identified by the site investigation (RMP ENCON Ltd.

1982a; Koutsoftas et al. 1987). Figure 3 defines the various

compressibility parameters obtained from the consolidation

tests, and Fig. 4 plots results of Atterberg limit tests on a

Casagrande plasticity chart. Essentially all the data fall into

groups parallel to and slightly above the A line of the plasticity chart. This is typical of inorganic marine clays.

Figures 57 show index data and maximum past pressures

versus depth below the mudline for the three cohesive strata

at the site. Natural moisture contents for the upper marine

clay (Fig. 5) are typically at or above the liquid limit, indicating a very soft and (or) sensitive material. The

overconsolidation ratios of the upper marine clay are in the

range 1.52.0. The very stiff upper alluvial crust is overconsolidated (Fig. 6), with maximum past pressures ranging

from 200 to 600 kPa, and usually above 300 kPa. Maximum

past pressures for the lower marine clay (Fig. 7) typically

range from 200 to 400 kPa.

Figure 8 summarizes compression indices (abbreviated to

CI) versus natural water content wn. There is a general trend

in Fig. 8 for the value of CI to increase to about wn = 70%

with increasing water content for all soil types. The soft upper marine clay has the highest values of CI, ranging from

0.3 to 0.5. Figure 9 presents the recompression index (RI)

versus the compression index for the upper and lower marine

clays. The recompression indices for the upper marine clay

are on average 0.07 times the compression indices, and for

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Zhu et al.

Fig. 4. Summary of Atterberg limits data for upper marine clay,

upper alluvial crust, and lower marine clay.

353

could be chosen as 1.9 Mg/m3. Figure 11 shows a simplified

version of the incremental vertical loading (total stress at the

top of the soft marine clay) calculated using these values.

The figure is for the loading of the northwestern quadrant

and has been used for the consolidation analysis in the following sections.

The general geology and sequences of stratification were

described in RMP ENCON Ltd. (1982a) and Koutsoftas el

al. (1987). As indicated earlier (Figs. 57), the subsoils at

the site can generally be classified as consisting of four layers, namely upper marine clay, upper alluvial crust, lower

marine clay, and lower alluvium (Fig. 12). A number of rising- and falling-head permeability tests were performed in

the field during the original site investigation to measure hydraulic conductivity coefficients in the upper and lower marine clay.

For design of the reclamation works for the airport, RMP

ENCON Ltd. (1982a) suggested the soil parameters outlined

in the following paragraphs (see also Table 1). All the parameters (kv, kr, /V, /V, /V, unit weights, and maximum

past pressure) were suggested in the site investigation report

except the coefficients of hydraulic conductivity for the upper alluvial crust. These have been estimated by the authors

from data given in the original site investigation report.

the lower marine clay the recompression indices are on average 0.14 times the compression indices. Coefficients of secondary consolidation C are plotted in Fig. 10. The values

of C increase with increasing natural water content.

To construct the main test embankment, a 2 m thick layer

of hydraulic sand fill was first pumped over the main test

area. Second, the centre of the embankment was filled to elevations above sea level. Third, the vertical drains and instrumentation were installed from the newly formed ground.

Fourth, the central portion was raised to elevation 6.4 m PD

during the period 13 June to 2 July 1982. This completed the

initial construction of the test fill. After approximately

8 months of settlement, the northwestern quadrant was finally raised to 10.8 m PD from 28 December 1982 to 21

January 1983 in the second stage of testing (RMP ENCON

Ltd. 1982b; Cheung and Ko 1986; Koutsoftas et al. 1987).

The 10.8 m PD elevation approximated the highest anticipated loading from the reclamation.

The density t of the fill is very important for accurately

assessing the incremental vertical stress. After careful examination of the test data and other relevant material, Cheung

and Ko (1986) suggested that the saturated unit weight of

the hydraulic fill material and the bulk density of the decom-

For the upper marine clay (with plasticity index Ip ranging

from 40 to 65%; Fig. 5), a density value of 1.45 Mg/m3 appears suitable. The soil has low compressibility in the

overconsolidated range, but is highly compressible when the

maximum past pressure (yield stress) is exceeded.

Recompression indices (Fig. 3) range from 0.02 to 0.03. In

the normal consolidation range, the soil is highly compressible, with CI ranging from 0.30 to 0.50. Representative values of 0.025 for RI and 0.40 for CI are considered

appropriate for this soil for design purposes. The upper marine clay exhibits very low secondary compression at

stresses below the maximum past pressure. However, in the

normal consolidation range coefficients of secondary consolidation are typically above C = 1.5% per logarithm cycle

of time. A value of 1.75% per logarithm cycle of time has

been recommended for design. Coefficients of vertical hydraulic conductivity calculated from the consolidation tests

are in the range of 2 109 to 5 109 m/s, with a mean

value of 2.2 109 m/s. The horizontal coefficients of hydraulic conductivity from variable head field permeability

tests range from 3 109 to 5 109 m/s. A value of 4

109 m/s appears to be a suitable average.

Upper alluvial crust

The upper alluvial crust is a medium-plasticity clay with

plasticity index in the range 2035%. A bulk unit density

value of 1.95 Mg/m3 was recommended for design.

Recompression indices RI range from 0.015 to 0.035. In the

normal consolidation region, the compressibility is comparatively small, with CI ranging from 0.10 to 0.20. Representative design values of RI = 0.025 and CI = 0.15 were

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354

Fig. 5. Index results and maximum past pressure profile of upper marine clay. wn, natural water content; wl, liquid limit; wp, plastic

limit.

Fig. 6. Index results and maximum past pressure profile of upper alluvial crust and stiff lenses within lower marine clay.

normal consolidation range are about 0.8%, and this value

appears to be a suitable average. No permeability data were

available for this stratum. The vertical coefficient of hydraulic conductivity was estimated as 6 109 m/s from the

site investigation report (RMP ENCON Ltd. 1982a), and

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355

Fig. 7. Index results and maximum past pressure profile of lower marine clay.

Fig. 8. Compression index versus natural water content for upper marine clay, upper alluvial crust, and lower marine clay.

12 109 m/s for the horizontal hydraulic conductivity.

Lower marine clay

The lower marine clay is of medium plasticity (25 Ip

40%). A saturated unit density of 1.85 Mg/m3 was recom-

mended for design. In the recompression stress range, compressibility is low, with RI ranging from 0.02 to 0.05. In the

normally consolidated range, the soil is quite compressible,

with CI ranging from 0.20 to 0.35. Representative values of

RI = 0.035 and CI = 0.25 were selected. Coefficients of secondary compression C in the normal consolidation range

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Fig. 9. Recompression index versus compression index for upper and lower marine clay.

Fig. 10. Coefficient of secondary consolidation versus natural water content for upper marine clay, upper alluvial crust, and lower marine clay (normal consolidation region).

vary from about 1.7 to 3.0%, and 1.7% has been selected for

the analysis. Coefficients of vertical hydraulic conductivity

from laboratory consolidation tests are typically 2 1010 to

3 1010 m/s, with a mean value of 2.5 1010 m/s. The in

situ horizontal hydraulic conductivities from variable-head

permeability tests are 4 1010 to 8 1010 m/s. A value of

6.2 1010 m/s was selected as a suitable average.

Lower alluvium

In this is very dense layer, the bulk density was chosen as

2.01 Mg/m2. The preconsolidation (yield) pressure of this

layer was larger than the final stresses imposed by the fill.

Therefore, a small recompression index of 0.01 was adopted

chosen as 1 108 m/s, and the horizontal hydraulic conductivity was 2 108 m/s.

Location of instrumentation

Figure 12 shows the elevations of pneumatic piezometers

(PP) and Sondex anchors in the northwestern quadrant.

These instruments were placed at the centre of a triangular

grid (in plan) of the vertical drains (RMP ENCON Ltd.

1982b; Handfelt et al. 1987). The construction drawings

generally gave only approximate locations for the Sondex

rings.

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357

Parameter

Upper alluvium

Lower alluvium

Soil model

(1994) 1D EVP

model

2.2109

4.0109

1.086102

0.174

7.6103

1

1.45

(1994) 1D EVP

model

6.0109

1.2108

1.086102

0.065

3.47103

1

1.95

(1994) 1D EVP

model

2.51010

6.21010

1.52102

1.086101

7.38103

1

1.85

Nonlinear

elastic

Radial coefficient of permeability, kr (m/s)

Elastic compression constant, /V

Reference time line constant, /V

Creep constant, /V

Creep constant, t0 (days)

Bulk density, t (Mg/m3)

Analysis of the settlements used the 1D EVP soil model

in eq. [4] (Yin and Graham 1989, 1994) for the top three

layers. The simpler nonlinear elastic model in eq. [3] was

adopted for the lower alluvium. The parameters for these

models are the values originally suggested for the design of

the reclamation site and outlined in preceding paragraphs.

These are listed in Table 1. The parameters kr and kz in Table 1 are the horizontal and vertical hydraulic conductivities,

respectively, and are taken as constants in the analysis. The

parameter t is the bulk density. Although these values are

typical for the whole site, no borehole was located in the immediate location of the test embankment.

Initial and boundary conditions

As boundary conditions, the top surface of the upper marine clay and the bottom surface of the lower alluvium were

treated as free drainage boundaries. The initial stresses and

the modelling of the maximum past pressures used in the

calculations are plotted in Fig. 13. Initial strains were calculated using the methods suggested by Zhu and Yin (2000b).

zone

As mentioned earlier, the Alidrains (width b = 100 mm

and thickness t = 7 mm) were arranged in a triangular pat-

1.0108

2.0108

4.343103

2.01

The equivalent radius of vertical drains, rd, can be determined in several ways (for example, Hansbo 1979; Atkinson

and Elered 1981; Long and Alvaro 1994). It seems that the

formula rd = (b + t)/4 + t/10 suggested by Long and Alvaro

(1994) agrees well with experimental values most closely

and has been adopted in this analysis. On this basis, rd is

27.45 mm. For triangular installation patterns, the equivalent

radius re of influence of the vertical drain is 0.525 times the

drain spacing (Fig. 14). That is, re = 0.525 drain spacing =

0.7875 m (Barron 1948).

Installation of vertical drains creates a region of disturbed

soil, called the smear zone, with outer radius rs around the

drain. Installation procedures that use a mandrel of radius rm

cause the most severe disturbance. Outward displacement of

the soil distorts the adjacent ground. The zone of soil near

the drain is remolded and dragged first downwards and then

upwards as the mandrel is pushed into and then pulled from

the ground. In soft soils where the technique is most useful,

the overall effect is to produce a disturbed soil zone of reduced permeability, reduced preconsolidation pressure, and

increased compressibility (Johnson 1970). The analysis assumed rs to be five times the equivalent radius of the vertical

drain, that is, 137 mm.

A diamond-shaped mandrel with external dimensions of

75 mm and 166 mm was used to install the Alidrains. The

equivalent radius of the mandrel is r m = 63 mm. These

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358

Fig. 13. In situ vertical effective stress and maximum past pressure.

Fig. 14. Geometry of the simplified model for consolidation of soils with a vertical drain. rs, outer radius of the smear zone.

within the range proposed by Mesri and Lo (1991).

Results of fully coupled finite element analysis by Zhu

and Yin (2000a) show that vertical effective stresses within

five times the equivalent radius of the vertical drain are

much higher than in other parts of the domain. These higher

stresses will reduce the permeability of the soil near vertical

drains regardless of the installation method. In addition, remolding due to drain installation may reduce the permeability in the smear zone. However, the reduction and size of the

smear zone are still not exactly known. In the following

in the smear zone are assumed equal to the vertical hydraulic conductivity of undisturbed soil (Broms 1987). Since the

equivalent cross section of the Alidrain is small and the

drain length is up to 17.1 m, the effect of internal resistance

to water flow in the drain needs to be considered. In the

analysis, the hydraulic conductivity coefficient of the vertical drain is assumed equal to 1.2 m/day (this is essentially

the hydraulic conductivity of clean sand, and since it is

much larger than the hydraulic conductivity of the various

clay layers, the solution is not sensitive to this assumption).

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Fig. 15. Comparison between measured settlement (points) and computed settlement (lines) using design values.

to adopt the recompression stressstrain relationships of the

surrounding soil.

discussions

The computed settlements at the elevations of the Sondex

settlement gauge anchors are plotted in Fig. 15. Measured

values were reported earlier by Cheung and Ko (1986) and

are also shown in the figure. In the early stages of loading,

the measured values are larger than the computed results.

This may have been caused by shear straining and lateral

movement of the soils from under the fill, particularly in the

very soft upper marine clay. After the final loading stage, the

computed settlements are larger than the measured results.

Taking into consideration the effort here to produce true predictions in the sense defined earlier, and the conservatism in

the design parameters, the results are quite good. A subsequent laboratory program of oedometer tests (Cheung and

Ko 1986) on 17 undisturbed samples of the upper marine

clay close to the location of the test embankment showed a

maximum compression index of 0.333. This is smaller than

the value of 0.40 suggested by RMP ENCON Ltd. (1982a)

from the overall investigation and used in the analysis.

Using a lower value of 0.32 instead of 0.40 for the upper

marine clay in the finite element analysis produced better

agreement (Fig. 16) between computed settlements and measured results. The predicted settlements in the upper layer

are still larger than the measured settlements.

Computed and measured pore-water pressures are shown

in Fig. 17. The computed values were again obtained using

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360

Fig. 16. Comparison between measured settlement (points) and computed settlement (lines) using test embankment site experiment data.

testing for design of the reclamation works. Figure 17 shows

that, although the trends have been modelled well, the computed pore-water pressures (shown as lines) during the initial loading stages are higher than measured results (shown

as symbols). After the final loading stage, however, the

computed pore-water pressures are lower than measured values. In other words, the rates and durations of the pore-water

pressure dissipation and the settlements have not been well

modelled. Using vertical total stress changes determined

from Boussinesq elastic stress distributions produces results

that are almost the same as those from the new modelling.

The simulation is from the start of construction (contract day

136), whereas field measurements only began after the ini-

are no records available for the initial loading as simplified

in the loading curve. When plotted in the figures, there are

only two large increases in measured pore-water pressure,

whereas the predictions suggest there will be three increases.

One reason for the lack of agreement may be nonlinear

changes of hydraulic conductivity with increasing effective

stress and the resulting decreases in void ratio. Hydraulic

conductivities are larger at the beginning of loading and become smaller as consolidation proceeds. The soils in this

study undergo relatively large deformations, and the effects

of nonlinear hydraulic conductivity may be significant. Although the program used for the analysis can take some

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Fig. 17. Comparison between measured pore pressure (points) and computed pore pressure (lines) using design values.

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362

account of nonlinear hydraulic conductivity, suitable information was not available from the laboratory program. The

measured pore-water pressures at PP60 near the top of the

upper marine clay during early loading dissipate more

slowly than the predicted values. This suggests that the upper boundary (the mudline) may not be a free drainage

boundary or that some destructuring was taking place. Computed pore-water pressures at PP43 agree well with measured values. Relatively large differences were noted,

however, between computed and measured pore-water pressures at PP42, PP41, PP40, PP35, and PP38.

The hydraulic conductivity at PP35 (located in the lower

marine clay) is examined in more detail in the following

paragraph. The measured pore-water pressure increased

from 15.0 kPa at contract day 213 to 63.4 kPa at contract

day 232. This corresponds to a vertical total stress increment

of 99.8 kPa in the second loading step. The measured porewater pressure increased again from 28.4 kPa at contract day

411 to 107.14 kPa at contract day 437, corresponding to a

vertical total stress increment of 104.5 kPa in the third loading step. From the test arrangement, deformations can be

considered as 1D. To estimate a lower limit of hydraulic

conductivity of the lower marine clay using the measured

value at PP35, it is assumed that the vertical drain is completely free draining. In the second loading step, 51.5% of

the increased excess pore-water pressure dissipated; and in

the third loading step, 24.7% of the increased excess porewater pressure dissipated. The analytical solution developed

recently by Zhu and Yin (2001) suggests that this corresponds to time factors of T = 1.93 for the second loading

step and T = 0.77 for the third loading step. The respective

coefficients of radial consolidation are 0.0815 and

0.0213 m/day for the two loading steps. Substituting the

recompression index RI = 0.035 and the initial effective

stress (105.5 kPa), the radial coefficient of permeability will

be 1.33 109 (m/s) for the second loading step and 3.48

1010 (m/s) for the third loading step. The coefficient of permeability in the second loading step is much larger than that

used in the calculations. It can also be seen that the coefficient of permeability in the third loading step is about 30%

of the value in the second loading step.

Examination of the borehole log obtained during the 1984

testing program described by Cheung and Ko (1986) in the

northwestern quadrant of the test fill indicates a layer of medium-dense, dark grey, fine to medium sand from 21.4 to

21.8 m PD. These elevations place it in the range of the

lower marine clay in the soil profile (Fig. 12) used for the

calculations. Also, a borehole log for the southwestern quadrant exposes a medium-dense, greyish brown, fine to medium sand layer from 11.0 to 11.9 m PD. These elevations

are in the upper alluvium crust. It is likely therefore that the

hydraulic conductivities and drainage boundaries at the site

may be rather different from those determined from the original investigation and used in the modelling.

Although it appears that settlement magnitudes can be

predicted with some success, attempts to compare predicted

and measured excess pore-water pressures under embankment projects have generally been less successful. Excess

pore-water pressures vary rapidly in the horizontal direction

around sand drains and wicks and can produce changes in

hydraulic conductivity. As a result, relatively small variation

potential errors (Olson 1998).

The compression of the lower three layers in Fig. 12 is

relatively small compared with that of the upper marine clay.

Thus, the relatively large discrepancies in the modelling of

pore-water pressure in the lower three layers are of little importance for the prediction of total settlements of the reclaimed land.

Validation of the simplified finite element procedure

through modelling of a case study has proved very helpful in

developing confidence in the ability of the model. Case history projects of this nature are invaluable in providing factual results for developing models, validating the

assumptions, and learning how to use them successfully in

practical applications.

Conclusions

This paper presents a simulation of settlements of a test

embankment at the new Chek Lap Kok International Airport

in Hong Kong. The modelling was done using the finite element method suggested in Zhu and Yin (2000a). The predictions were done using, for the most part, results from the

original laboratory testing and site investigation report. Good

results were obtained for predictions of settlement magnitudes. However, relatively large discrepancies were encountered in modelling pore-water pressures. This has been

related to nonlinear characteristics of hydraulic conductivity

that should be taken into account when the soil experiences

large compression. Localized coarser layers in the geological

sequence are also key factors that influence the possibility of

successful modelling of consolidation behaviour.

Acknowledgements

Financial support (Grant No. H-ZJ73) from the Hong

Kong Polytechnic University, a research grant (Grant No.

PolyU 63/96E) from the Research Grants Council of UGC

of the Hong Kong SAR Government of China, and support

from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research

Council of Canada are gratefully acknowledged. We also appreciate permission from the Civil Engineering Office, Civil

Engineering Service Department of the of Hong Kong SAR

Government, to use information about materials and performance at the test embankment site at the Chek Lap Kok International Airport. The authors acknowledge thoughtful and

helpful comments from the reviewers.

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