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Stiffness degradation and shear strength of silty

Junhwan Lee, Rodrigo Salgado, and J. Antonio H. Carraro

Abstract: Soils behave nonlinearly from very early loading stages. When granular soils contain a certain amount of
fines, the degree of nonlinearity also changes, as stiffness and strength characteristics vary with fines content. Hyper-
bolic stress–strain models and variations of these models are often used for description of the nonlinear behavior. A
modified hyperbolic stress–strain relationship is used in this paper for representing the degradation of the elastic modu-
lus of silty sands. The model is based on two modulus degradation parameters that determine the magnitude and rate
of modulus degradation as a function of stress level. Realistic representation of soil behavior using this nonlinear rela-
tionship requires estimation of the degradation parameters as a function of silt content and relative density DR. A series
of triaxial test results on sands containing different amounts of nonplastic silt were analyzed with this purpose. Rela-
tionships between the degradation parameters and cone penetration test (CPT) cone resistance qc are also proposed.

Key words: hyperbolic model, silty sands, triaxial tests, modulus degradation, stress–strain response, shear strength,
Résumé : Les sols se comportent de façon non linéaire dès les premiers stades de chargement. Lorsque les sols pulvé-
rulents contiennent une certaine quantité de particules fines, le degré de non linéarité change aussi puisque la rigidité et
les caractéristiques de cisaillement varient avec la teneur en particules fines. On utilise souvent des modèles hyperboli-
ques contrainte–déformation et des variations de ces modèles pour décrire le comportement non linéaire. Une relation
hyperbolique contrainte–déformation modifiée à été utilisée dans cet article pour représenter la dégradation du module
élastique des sables limoneux. Le modèle est basé sur deux paramètres de module de dégradation qui déterminent
l’amplitude et le taux de dégradation du module en fonction du niveau de contrainte. Une représentation réaliste du
comportement du sol utilisant la relation non linéaire requiert une estimation des paramètres de dégradation en fonction
de la teneur en limon et de la densité relative DR. On a analysé à cette fin une série de résultats d’essais triaxiaux sur
des sables contenant différentes quantités de limon non plastique. On propose également des relations entre les paramè-
tres de dégradation et la résistance qc au cône CPT.
Mots clés : modèle hyperbolique, sables limoneux, essais triaxiaux, module de dégradation, réponse contrainte-
déformation, résistance au cisaillement, Gmax.
[Traduit par la Rédaction] Lee et al. 843

Introduction limits are defined most likely within the range of nonlinear
stress–strain response.
Foundation design, in general, requires that both a stabil-
ity analysis based on the shear strength of the soil and a It is widely recognized that soils behave nonlinearly from
settlement analysis be done to ensure the safety and service- very early stages of loading. To describe this nonlinear be-
ability of the superstructure. For both analyses, use of appro- havior of soils before failure, several stress–strain models
priate soil parameters that can represent the real soil have been proposed (Kondner 1963; Duncan and Chang
behavior is key for the design to be successful. In particular, 1970; Tatsuoka et al. 1993; Fahey and Carter 1993). The
for the settlement analysis, description of nonlinear stress– original hyperbolic model of Kondner (1963) was a pure hy-
strain behavior is necessary, as the structure serviceability perbolic relationship between stress and strain. Subsequent
models included modifications to the hyperbolic stress–
strain relationship geared to better fit real soil behavior
(Duncan and Chang 1970; Hardin and Drnevich 1972; Fahey
Received 2 December 2002. Accepted 29 March 2004. and Carter 1993).
Published on the NRC Research Press Web site at The hyperbolic family of soil models has the important
http://cgj.nrc.ca on 24 September 2004.
advantages of easy numerical implementation and sufficient
J. Lee.1 School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, accuracy for practical purposes. The conventional hyperbolic
Yonsei University, 134 Shinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, soil models, however, are not complete constitutive models,
Seoul 120-749, South Korea. as they make no reference to a yield surface, flow rule, or
R. Salgado and J.A.H. Carraro. School of Civil and hardening rule. In addition, the observed degradation of elas-
Environmental Engineering, Purdue University, West tic modulus with increasing stress–strain levels differs from
Lafayette, IN 47907-1284, USA.
that provided by the hyperbolic stress–strain model. Where-
Corresponding author (e-mail: junlee@yonsei.ac.kr). as the degradation of elastic modulus in the conventional hy-

Can. Geotech. J. 41: 831–843 (2004) doi: 10.1139/T04-034 © 2004 NRC Canada
832 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 41, 2004

perbolic model is linear when plotted versus mobilized shear Fig. 1. Hyperbolic stress–strain relationship: (a) conventional
stress, the observed degradation for real soils is nonlinear. stress–strain curve; (b) transformed stress–strain curve.
Nonetheless, the hyperbolic model has been used in many
cases with reasonably satisfactory results because of self-
compensating effects during model parameter determination.
This will be discussed in a later section.
To represent modulus degradation more realistically,
Fahey and Carter (1993) and Lee and Salgado (2000, 2002)
modified the hyperbolic stress–strain model for two-
dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) stress states,
respectively. The degradation of elastic modulus in these
models is set as a function of the ratio of current shear stress
to the maximum shear stress at failure. The key model pa-
rameters are f and g. Lee and Salgado (1999, 2000, 2002)
proposed values of the degradation parameters f and g as a
function of the relative density DR for clean sand. According
to these authors, as the relative density DR increases, the val-
ues of f and g decrease and increase, respectively.
In the present study, the modulus degradation of sands
containing different amounts of silts is investigated with ref-
erence to the model of Lee and Salgado (1999, 2000, 2002).
Values of f and g are proposed as a function of DR and silt
content. A methodology for estimating the modulus degrada-
tion parameters based on cone penetration test (CPT) results
and their relationship to the peak friction angle of silty sand
are also addressed.

Nonlinear behavior of granular soil

Hyperbolic stress–strain relationship

The hyperbolic types of soil models have been widely
used in a number of geotechnical engineering analyses that
require nonlinear stress–strain modeling. The conventional
hyperbolic equation for stress–strain curves by Kondner
(1963) is written for either triaxial or plane-strain conditions curve to the actual deviatoric stress of soil at failure (σ1′ –
as σ 3′ )f :

ε [2] (σ1′ − σ 3′ ) f = R f (σ1′ − σ 3′ )ult

[1] σ1′ − σ 3′ =
a + bε where Rf = 0.75–1.0, according to Duncan and Chang. The
modified hyperbolic equation is then written as
where σ1′ and σ 3′ are the major and minor principal effective
stresses, respectively; ε is the axial strain; and a and b are ε
[3] (σ1′ − σ 3′ ) =
model parameters. As can be seen in Fig. 1, the constants a 1/ Ei + ε Rf /(σ1′ − σ 3′ ) f
and b in the conventional hyperbolic equation of Kondner
correspond to the value of the reciprocals of the initial tan- where the deviatoric stress at failure (σ1′ – σ 3′ )f is deter-
gent elastic modulus Ei and of the asymptotic value (σ1′ – mined from the Mohr–Coulomb failure criterion. Duncan
σ 3′ )ult of deviatoric stress for the hyperbolic stress–strain and Chang also presented a methodology for determining
curve. From eq. [1] and Fig. 1, it is easily seen that an infi- the model parameters used in eq. [3] and calculation of the
nitely large strain is required for the stress–strain curve to initial tangent modulus Ei based on experimental laboratory
reach the ultimate deviatoric stress (σ1′ – σ 3′ )ult. This also test results.
implies that the ultimate deviatoric stress (σ1′ – σ 3′ )ult in the
conventional hyperbolic stress–strain relationship is greater Elastic modulus
than the actual soil strength, which clearly develops for a fi- The nonlinear soil response is in part associated with
nite strain. strains that cannot be fully recovered upon unloading. There
For the purpose of better fitting the hyperbolic relation- is, however, a certain strain range (in general, up to 10–5 to
ship to a real soil stress–strain curve, Duncan and Chang 10–4 for sands) within which a soil behaves as a linear elas-
(1970) modified the hyperbolic equation by introducing the tic material and the strain is recoverable. The elastic modu-
material constant Rf into the equation. The factor Rf is re- lus for this strain range is referred to as the initial elastic
ferred to as the failure ratio, relating the ultimate deviatoric modulus at small strains, denoted by E0. The corresponding
stress (σ1′ – σ 3′ )ult of the original hyperbolic stress–strain shear modulus is denoted by G0.

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Lee et al. 833

There are a number of ways to evaluate the initial shear Fig. 2. Modulus degradation relationship for normally consoli-
modulus for a given soil type and state, including in situ dated (N.C.) sands for monotonic and cyclic loading (after
tests, laboratory tests, and empirical equations (Janbu 1963; Teachavorasinskun et al. 1991).
Hardin and Richart 1963; Yu and Richart 1984; Baldi et al.
1989; Viggiani and Atkinson 1995; Salgado et al. 1997). The
cross-hole test and the seismic cone penetration test (SCPT)
are examples of in situ testing methods that can be used for
this purpose. In the laboratory, the resonant column test and
the bender element test are often used. The empirical equa-
tions for the initial shear modulus are usually expressed in
the form
G0  p′ 
[4] = C F(e)  m 
pA  pA 

where G0 is the initial shear modulus, pA is the reference

stress used for stress normalization, C is a nondimensional
material constant, F(e) is a function of the void ratio, n is a
material constant, and pm′ is the mean effective stress ex-
pressed in the same units as pA. Equation [4] indicates de-
pendence of the initial shear modulus on the degree of soil
compactness and the magnitude of the confining stress. One
of the commonly used empirical equations for the initial
shear modulus of sand is that suggested by Hardin and Black
(1966) and given as follows: shown in Fig. 2, however, the degradation of the elastic
modulus obtained experimentally for real soils under static
G0 (e − e0) 2  pm′  or quasi-static loading is not linear. To describe more realis-
[5] = Cg g   tically the modulus degradation relationship, Fahey and
pA 1 + e0  pA  Carter (1993) proposed a modified hyperbolic model with
the introduction of a parameter g into eq. [7]:
where Cg, eg, and ng are material constants that depend only
on the nature of the soil; e0 is the initial void ratio; and pA is g
G  τ 
the reference stress. Hardin and Black proposed values of [8] =1− f  
Cg, eg, and ng for well-rounded particles (Ottawa sand) and G0  τmax 
angular particles (crushed quartz).
If the shear modulus G is used, a complete description of The parameter f in eq. [8] has the same role as Rf in
the elastic stress–strain relationship requires another elastic eq. [7]. The parameter g determines the shape of the degra-
parameter, bulk modulus K, which is a pressure-dependent dation curve as a function of stress level. If f = 0, eq. [8]
elastic parameter. To include variation of K with stress, the represents the linear elastic relationship. If g = 1, the
K–G model by Naylor et al. (1981) was adopted in this Duncan–Chang hyperbolic relationship results. Based on the
study. In the K–G model, the value of K varies as a function model of Fahey and Carter, Lee and Salgado (2000, 2002)
of the mean effective stress σ m′ . proposed the modified hyperbolic relationship for 3D stress
states in natural soil deposits, with consideration of stress
Modulus degradation model confinement, as follows:
It is more useful in most analyses to express the stress–
strain relationship in terms of shear stress and strain. Equa-   J2 − J2o    I  ng

tion [3] then takes the form [9]

G  
= 1− f    1 
G0   J2 max − J2o    I1o 
γ  
[6] τ=
1/G0 + γ Rf / τmax
where J21/ 2, J2o1/ 2, and J2 max1/ 2 are the second invariants of
where G0 is the initial shear modulus at small strains; τmax is the deviatoric stress tensor corresponding to 3D equivalents
the maximum shear stress at failure; and τ and γ are the cur- of the current, initial, and maximum shear stresses, respec-
rent shear stress and strain, respectively. Considering that tively; I1 and I1o are the first invariants of the stress tensor at
eq. [6] is of the form τ = G γ, it follows that the current and initial states, respectively. The parameter ng
is the same as appears in eq. [5]; in both equations, ng repre-
G τ sents the dependence of shear modulus on the confining
[7] = 1 − Rf
G0 τmax stress. The rate of the modulus degradation clearly depends
on the values of f and g. It follows that, to describe soil be-
where G is the secant shear modulus. havior realistically using eq. [9], accurate knowledge of the
Equation [7] implies linear degradation of the soil stiff- values of f and g is necessary. In the next section, we focus
ness with shear stress from its initial maximum value G0. As on the estimation of f and g values for silty sands.

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834 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 41, 2004

Degradation of elastic modulus for silty Fig. 3. Measured stress–strain curves from triaxial tests for
sands (a) loose condition at σ 3′ = 400 kPa and (b) dense condition at
σ 3′ = 100 kPa.
In general, the presence of nonplastic fines in granular
soils results in higher dilatancy because of increasing inter-
locking of particles, with the fines wedging themselves be-
tween larger particles. This is true up to a certain percentage
of fines. The upper limit of silt content, up to which increas-
ing dilatancy is observed, is on the order of 20% (Salgado et
al. 2000). For fines contents greater than this limit, the be-
havior of the soil would be dominated by the fines (i.e., silts,
in this study) rather than by the larger particles.
Soil parameters can be classified as either intrinsic or state
variables. Intrinsic variables do not change with soil state
and are only a function of soil particle mineralogy, shape,
and size distribution (Been et al. 1991; Salgado et al. 1997).
These variables include the friction angle at critical state
(φcv′ ), maximum and minimum void ratios (emax, emin), and
specific gravity (Gs). If the amount of fines in a soil
changes, the values of the intrinsic soil variables also
change. State variables, on the other hand, are dependent on
the soil state. The in situ vertical and horizontal effective
stresses (σ v′, σ h′ ) and the initial void ratio (e0) are examples
of state variables.
Salgado et al. (2000) conducted a series of experiments on
silty sands, including triaxial tests, bender element tests, and
other fundamental property tests for determination of soil
intrinsic variables. The soils were Ottawa sand with silt con-
tents equal to 0%, 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% by weight. The
initial shear modulus at small strains was measured using
bender elements. The bender element test can be performed
using the same soil sample as those used in a triaxial test,
with the wave generator and receiver (the bender elements)
attached at the end caps of the triaxial samples. As the
strains associated with the shear wave are within the linear
elastic range and do not disturb the initial soil condition, the
triaxial tests can be performed immediately after the bender
element tests using the same soil sample. A total of 103 Table 1. Summary of test details.
triaxial tests were performed, including those by Salgado et
al. (2000) and 31 additional tests with silt contents equal to Silt content No. of Range of DR Range of
0%, 2%, 5%, and 10% (see Table 1). For the soil samples (%) tests (%) σ 3′ (kPa)
with different silt contents, a range of relative densities, 0 26 24.9–84.7 50–400
loose to dense, was considered as well. More details on the 2 10 16.0–80.0 100–400
test procedure and results can be found in Salgado et al. Fig- 5 21 3.9–80.4 100–400
ure 3 shows typical stress–strain curves obtained from the 10 18 11.7–83.8 100–400
triaxial tests for different silt contents and relative densities. 15 17 7.4–100.0 100–400
According to these tests, as the silt content increases, 20 11 25.9–71.5 100–400
shear strength increases owing to higher dilatancy, while the
initial stiffness, represented by initial shear modulus G0, de-
creases. Table 2 shows values of intrinsic soil variables for
test materials with different silt contents. Values of the in- [11] φp′ = φcv′ + 5I R
trinsic soil variables shown in Table 2 are changed slightly
for plane-strain conditions, with
from the values reported by Salgado et al. (2000) because of
the additional test results. In Table 2, Cg, eg, and ng are the   100 pp′ 
material parameters used in eq. [5] for the initial shear [12] I R = I D Q − ln   − R
modulus. The parameters Q and R are the dilatancy parame-   pA  
ters of the Bolton (1986) correlation:
[10] φp′ = φcv′ + 3I R where φp′ is the peak friction angle, φcv′ is the critical state
friction angle, IR is the dilatancy index, ID is the relative
for triaxial conditions, and density as a number between 0 and 1, pA is the reference

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Lee et al. 835

Table 2. Intrinsic soil variables for silty sands (Salgado et al. 2000).
Silt content (%) emin emax Cg eg ng φc′ (°) Q R
0 0.48 0.78 611 2.17 0.44 29.5 9.9 0.86
2 0.45 0.71 514 2.17 0.58 29.6 10.3 –0.35
5 0.42 0.70 453 2.17 0.46 31.0 9.1 –0.30
10 0.36 0.65 354 2.17 0.58 32.0 9.3 –0.33
15 (DR > 38%) 0.32 0.63 238 2.17 0.75 32.5 11.4 1.29
15 (DR < 38%) 0.32 0.63 238 2.17 0.75 32.5 7.9 0.04
20 (DR > 59%) 0.29 0.62 270 2.17 0.69 33.0 10.1 0.85
20 (DR < 59%) 0.29 0.62 207 2.17 0.81 33.0 7.3 0.08

stress (=100 kPa), and pp′ is the mean effective stress at Fig. 4. Elastic modulus degradation with different values of f
peak strength in the same units as pA. and g.

Degradation behavior of elastic modulus

The parameters f and g appearing in eqs. [8] and [9] deter-
mine the degradation characteristics of the elastic modulus
as a function of the stress level. Figure 4 shows some modu-
lus degradation curves resulting from different values of f
and g. As can be seen in Fig. 4, the value of f determines
the ratio of the secant elastic modulus at failure to the initial
elastic modulus, G0 or E0 (i.e., the value of this ratio when
(σ1′ – σ 3′ )/(σ1′ – σ 3′ )f = 1). As the value of f approaches 1,
the value of the secant modulus approaches zero. This im-
plies that the strains at failure for materials with lower f val-
ues are lower than those for materials with higher f values,
representing stiffer stress–strain response. Hence, the higher
the soil dilatancy and the strength, the lower the value of the
failure ratio f. The value of g, on the other hand, defines the
modulus degradation rate, or the shape of the modulus deg-
radation curve. As shown in Fig. 4, when the value of g is
equal to 1, the degradation curve is linear. For g values less
than 1, the lower the g value, the faster the modulus degra-
dation rate. degradation curves were obtained from conventional triaxial
According to Teachavorasinskun et al. (1991) and Lee and stress–strain curves based on values of secant elastic modu-
Salgado (1999, 2000), stiffer soils, such as overconsolidated lus corresponding to each loading increment. Since the se-
(i.e., overconsolidation ratio (OCR) > 1) or dense soils, have cant shear modulus cannot be directly obtained from triaxial
higher values of g than loose soils. Figure 5 shows modulus stress–strain curves, the modulus degradation curves were
degradation curves and values of initial shear modulus G0 established in terms of normalized Young’s modulus E/E0
obtained from triaxial (TX) and bender element (BE) tests and normalized deviatoric stress (σ1′ – σ 3′ )/(σ1′ – σ 3′ )f. This
with different OCRs for a silt content equal to 0%. From is based on an assumption that the degradation behavior of E
Fig. 5a, it can be seen that the overconsolidated condition is the same as that of G. This assumption would not hold if
produces stiffer modulus degradation behavior under the Poisson’s ratio varied significantly during the loading pro-
same relative density and stress state, which is consistent cess. The initial Young’s modulus E0 for each test was cal-
with findings by Teachavorasinskun et al. On the other hand, culated from the initial shear modulus G0, which can be
results from BE tests in Fig. 5b show that no significant ef- obtained from either bender element tests or eq. [5], and the
fect of OCR exists on values of G0, whereas the absolute initial Poisson’s ratio, assumed equal to approximately 0.15.
value of void ratio (e0) appears to be important. Effects of The maximum deviatoric stress (σ1′ – σ 3′ )f was taken as the
ageing as for real soils may also be a factor in modulus deg- peak stress on the stress–strain curves. Figure 7 shows mea-
radation. According to Howie et al. (2002), aged sands show sured and calculated modulus degradation curves for two
considerable increase of initial elastic modulus values with tests using the estimated values of f and g.
lower degradation rate. As ageing effects were not included
in this study, therefore, the results obtained in this study may Degradation parameters with different silt contents
not directly apply to aged soils. According to Lee and Salgado (1999, 2000), who ana-
To obtain the modulus degradation parameters f and g for lyzed the modulus degradation relationship for clean sands,
silty sands, the triaxial test results described previously were the relative density DR is the most important factor deter-
analyzed. As shown in Fig. 6, values of f and g can be mining the values of f and g. As the relative density in-
determined from modulus degradation curves in terms of creases, the value of f decreases and the value of g increases,
normalized elastic modulus and stress ratio. The modulus all of which indeed leads to a stiffer stress–strain response.

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836 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 41, 2004

Fig. 5. Effect of OCR on modulus degradation: (a) modulus deg- Fig. 6. Stress–strain curve and corresponding modulus degrada-
radation curves for different OCRs; (b) values of G0 for different tion: (a) stress–strain curve; (b) corresponding modulus degrada-
OCRs. tion curve.

For silty sands, it was found that the fines content was an-
other factor bearing on the values of f and g. This is because Fig. 7. Measured modulus degradation for loose and dense
the degree of interlocking between particles and thus the sands.
dilatancy vary with the fines content, resulting in different
stiffness and strength characteristics (Salgado et al. 2000).
Figure 8 shows values of f and g for silt contents (s/c) equal
to 0%, 2%, 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% as a function of the rel-
ative density DR along with the best fit lines. Although the
magnitudes of f and g are different for different silt contents,
the dependence of f and g on DR observed in Fig. 8 appears
to be consistent with the findings by Lee and Salgado for
clean sands.
For the parameter f, most values fall within the range
0.86–0.99, depending on the silt content and the relative
density, whereas greater scatter is observed in the values of
g. As discussed earlier, values of f are evaluated based on the
peak stress–strain level at failure, which is relatively insensi-
tive to minor differences in the initial condition of the sam-
ples resulting from sample preparation. The values of g
reflect prefailure modulus degradation, however, which is
sensitive to initial sample conditions, leading to more scatter
in the results. Nonetheless, it is observed that there is a rea-
sonably good relationship between g values and relative den-
sity DR.

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Lee et al. 837

Fig. 8. Values of f and g from triaxial stress–strain curves for silty sands: (a) s/c = 0% and 2%; (b) s/c = 5% and 10%; (c) s/c = 15%
and 20%; (d) s/c = 0%, 2%, 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20%.

Figure 8d consolidates the data for all the silt contents. Fig. 8c) is lower than those for s/c = 0%–10%. For s/c =
The values of f for most silt contents considered in this study 15%, values of g lie somewhat between those for s/c = 0%–
appear to be well correlated with the relative density DR as 10% and 20% for loose to medium-dense states (i.e., DR ≤
represented by the solid lines (if results for s/c = 15% at 50%), and higher values of g (i.e., stiffer degradation behav-
DR > 50% are excluded, R2 = 0.71). An interesting result is ior) are observed for medium-dense to dense states (i.e.,
the “gap” in the correlations of f and g versus DR for s/c = DR > 50%). As described earlier, this is on account of the
15% at DR ≈ 40%–60% (Fig. 8c). The explanation for this gap observed for silty sands with s/c = 15%. This result sug-
can be found in Salgado et al. (2000). For sands containing a gests that the effect of silt content on the modulus degrada-
certain amount of fines, there is a limit void ratio or relative tion behavior is not significant for silt contents up to 10%,
density above and below which the mechanical behavior of whereas silt contents higher than 15% result in different
the sands is quite different. For relative densities lower than rates of modulus degradation as fines start dominating the
the limit, the fines on average separate neighboring sand par- overall mechanical behavior.
ticles, leading to lower dilatancy. The limit relative density
for s/c = 15% is about 38% according to Salgado et al.,
which approximately corresponds to the range of relative Evaluation of failure ratio and peak friction
densities in Fig. 8c where the discontinuity in the trends of f angle from CPT cone resistance
and g values are observed.
From Fig. 8, it can be concluded that no significant effect As shown in Fig. 8, both f and g depend primarily on rela-
of silt content is observed on the values of f, except for s/c = tive density DR, suggesting a possible relationship between f
15% at DR higher than 50%. For values of g, although the and the dilatancy angle (and thus the difference between the
average range of g values is approximately the same for silt peak friction angle φp′ and the critical state friction angle
contents up to 10% (Figs. 8a, 8b), consideration of silt con- φcv
′ ). Figure 9 shows a relationship between f and g values
tent effect appears to be necessary for silt contents greater and the φp′ − φcv ′ obtained from the same triaxial tests
than 15%. For s/c = 20%, the rate of increase in g values results as in Fig. 8. Figure 9 shows that f decreases as
with an increase in DR (i.e., the slope of the trend line in φp′ − φcv
′ increases, irrespective of silt content. It is also ob-

© 2004 NRC Canada

838 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 41, 2004

served that the values of φp′ − φcv ′ obtained from the tests Fig. 9. Relationship of (a) f and (b) g versus dilatancy friction
are not greater than the 12° specified by Bolton (1986) as angle for silty sands.
the upper limit of this quantity for triaxial tests. Regarding
the value of g, although the correlation is not as strong as
that for f, a trend of increasing g values with increasing
φp′ − φcv
′ values is also observed.
The modulus degradation parameters f and g can be evalu-
ated through appropriate laboratory tests, such as triaxial
tests and torsional shear tests with the capability of measur-
ing small strains. It is extremely difficult to obtain un-
disturbed samples of sandy soil, however, hence the
predominant use of standard penetration testing (SPT) or
CPT testing in these cases. It would be desirable to have a
correlation between f, g, and qc that could be used in esti-
mates of f and g values. To fully describe the stress–strain
relationship of the soil for practical purposes, it would also
be desirable to have a simple correlation between φp′ and qc.
To investigate the relationship between f, g, and qc, the
cone resistance qc was normalized and plotted together with
values of f and g in Fig. 10. The cone resistance qc for each
soil condition used in the triaxial tests was calculated using
the widely tested program CONPOINT (Salgado et al. 1997,
1998; Salgado and Randolph 2001) with input data prepared
from the soil parameters in Table 2. In Fig. 10, qc was nor-
malized in two ways: (i) in terms of the horizontal effective
stress σ h′ (equal to σ 3′ for triaxial test conditions) (Figs. 10a,
10b), and (ii) in terms of the initial shear modulus G0
(Figs. 10c, 10d). It is observed that, for qc/σh′ values lower
than approximately 300, the correlation between f and qc/σ h′
is quite good. For higher qc/σ h′ values, the relationship be-
tween f and qc/G0 appears to be superior. Overall, the data
suggest that a unique relationship between f and the normal-
ized qc may be assumed in practice for all the silt contents
considered. On the other hand, significant scatter and a lower
degree of correlation are observed for correlations of g and qc
in Figs. 10b and 10d. As discussed previously, this is due to
the fact that g values reflect prefailure modulus degradation,
whereas qc represents the soil plunging state at failure.
Figure 11 shows the relationship between the peak friction
angle φp′ from the triaxial test results and the normalized
cone resistances qc/σ h′ . As shown in Fig. 11, a fairly clear
relationship between qc/σ h′ and φp′ was observed. It should
be noted that the relationship in Fig. 11 includes results of and Mitchell were originally proposed for clean sands. As
all the silt contents considered from 0% to 20%. There ap- shown in Fig. 12, the proposed relationship shows reason-
pears to be a slight increase of φp′ with an increase in silt ably good agreement with those of Durgunoglu and Mitchell
content, but for practical purposes the relationship may be and Robertson and Campanella. It is also observed that the
taken as unique. The relationship between φp′ and qc shown proposed relationship tends to produce higher friction angles
in Fig. 11 can be approximated as as the values of qc/σ h′ increase beyond 300. The results in
Fig. 12 can be used to evaluate φp′ of silty sands directly
0.1714 from CPT results.
q 
[13] φp′ = 15.575  c  The combined use of the relationship between φp′ and qc,
 σ h′  the relationship between f and qc, and an appropriate correla-
tion for G0 allows an effective, yet simple way of obtaining
where φp′ is the peak friction angle in degrees, qc is the cone the parameters necessary for using eqs. [8] or [9] to quantify
resistance, and σ h′ is the initial horizontal effective stress. the stress–strain response of sands and silty sands under nor-
Equation [13] can be used to estimate the peak friction angle mally consolidated conditions in practical problems.
φp′ for both clean and silty sands with silt content up to ap-
proximately 15%–20%. Conventional versus modified hyperbolic
The proposed relationship for φp′ and qc (eq. [13]) is com- stress–strain model
pared with those by Robertson and Campanella (1983) and
Durgunoglu and Mitchell (1975) in Fig. 12. The φp′ – qc re- The conventional hyperbolic stress–strain relationship of
lationships by Robertson and Campanella and Durgunoglu eq. [3] by Duncan and Chang (1970) corresponds to the
© 2004 NRC Canada
Lee et al. 839

Fig. 10. Relationship of f and g versus normalized cone resistance qc: (a) f versus qc/σ h′ ; (b) g versus qc/σ h′ ; (c) f versus qc/G0; (d) g
versus qc/G0.
(a) 1.00 (b) 1.00
Silt content = 0%
Silt content = 2%
0.96 Silt content = 5%
0.80 Silt content = 10%
Silt content = 15%
Silt content = 20%
0.92 0.60

0.88 Silt content = 0% 0.40
Silt content = 2%
Silt content = 5%
0.84 Silt content = 10%
Silt content = 15%
2 2
Silt content = 20% R = 0.6364 R = 0.5716
0.80 0.00
0 100 200 300 400 500 600 0 100 200 300 400 500 600

qc/σⴕh qc/σⴕh

(c) 1.00 (d) 1.00

2 2
R = 0.7373 R = 0.2905
0.96 0.80

0.92 0.60

0.88 Silt content = 0% 0.40

Silt content = 2% Silt content = 0%
Silt content = 5% Silt content = 2%
0.84 Silt content = 10% 0.20 Silt content = 5%
Silt content = 15% Silt content = 10%
Silt content = 20% Silt content = 15%
Silt content = 20%
0.80 0.00
0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8
qc/G0 qc/G0

modified hyperbolic relationship of eqs. [8] and [9] with the gression line is determined from two data points
modulus degradation parameter g equal to 1, which implies corresponding to 70% and 95% strength mobilized.
that G/G0 decreases linearly with an increase in τ/τmax. As (3) Calculate the intercept with the vertical axis and the
can be seen in Fig. 2, however, the assumption of linear slope of the transformed stress–strain curve. Reciprocal
modulus degradation is not in agreement with observed be- values of the intercept and the slope correspond to the
havior for most soils under static loading conditions. Despite initial tangent Young’s modulus Ei and the peak devia-
its lack of conformity with experimental observations, the toric stress (σ1′ – σ 3′ )f, respectively.
conventional hyperbolic models have been used in the de- Duncan and Chang’s (1970) hyperbolic parameters (σ1′ –
sign and analysis of foundations (Goh et al. 1997; Budek et σ 3′ )f and Ei were obtained for the silty sands of this study by
al. 2000; Rajashree and Sitharam 2001; Castelli and Maugeri applying this procedure to the stress–strain curves for the
2002). triaxial tests on these soils. Figure 13 shows measured and
The procedure advocated by Duncan and Chang (1970) calculated peak deviatoric stresses (σ1′ – σ 3′ )f and initial tan-
for obtaining the hyperbolic stress–strain relationship based gent Young’s modulus Ei. In the figure, E0 represents the ini-
on triaxial compression tests is as follows: tial elastic modulus at small strains, obtained from eq. [5].
(1) Plot the stress–strain curve from a triaxial test in a space As can be seen in Fig. 13a, there is good agreement between
with vertical axis εaxial/(σ1′ – σ 3′ ) and with horizontal the peak deviatoric stresses from the Duncan and Chang
axis εaxial. procedure and those measured directly for values less than
(2) Obtain a linear regression line for the transformed 1 MPa. On the other hand, the difference between the Dun-
stress–strain curve plotted in such a way. The linear re- can and Chang modulus Ei and the initial modulus E0 calcu-
© 2004 NRC Canada
840 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 41, 2004

Fig. 11. Estimation of peak friction angle from normalized cone Fig. 13. (a) Measured and calculated peak stresses. (b) Values of
resistance qc. Ei from conventional hyperbolic model and E0 observed at small

Fig. 12. Relationship between peak friction angle and normalized

cone resistance qc.

followed is owing to the assumption that stress–strain curves

are hyperbolic. After the small strain range, for which the
soil is linear elastic, the elastic modulus degrades exponen-
tially. The conventional hyperbolic model, however, ne-
glects the existence of this linear elastic range and does not
lated using eq. [5] is substantial. As can be seen in Fig. 13b, adequately represent the rate of modulus degradation after-
values of Ei were significantly lower than those of E0 and wards for most soils. As mentioned earlier, the value of g
never higher than approximately 15% of E0. Figure 14 equal to 1 assumed in the conventional hyperbolic model re-
shows ratios of Ei to E0 versus the dilatancy index IR given sults in excessively stiff soil behavior compared with what
by eq. [12]. It is observed that the ratio of Ei to E0 increases would be observed in experiments. This excessive stiffness
as the dilatancy index increases. This indicates that, as the is compensated by the use of the underestimated initial tan-
soil becomes more dilative, underestimation of the initial gent elastic modulus Ei, so in many practical applications
modulus by the procedure of Duncan and Chang becomes the conventional hyperbolic model may give satisfactory re-
less pronounced. sults. In more sophisticated analyses, particularly those in-
The significant underestimation of the initial elastic cluding soil response within the small strain range, it may
modulus Ei when the Duncan and Chang (1970) procedure is not accurately represent the real soil behavior.

© 2004 NRC Canada

Lee et al. 841

Fig. 14. Ratio of Ei/E0 versus dilatancy index IR. Fig. 15. Initial (a) and deformed (b) finite element models for
triaxial test.

Numerical simulation of triaxial stress–

strain response
To assess the reasonableness of the values of the modulus
degradation parameters f and g presented in this study, finite
element analysis of the triaxial tests was performed and
compared with the measured stress–strain responses. In the
finite element analysis, the Drucker–Prager failure criterion
with nonlinear failure surfaces defined by eqs. [10] and [12]
was also included for describing the postfailure soil behav-
ior. Detailed formulation and description of the model can
be found in Lee and Salgado (1999, 2000).
The well-known finite element program ABAQUS was
used to simulate the triaxial tests. Instead of using one of the
material models available in the program, a subroutine was
written for the stress–strain relationship, including the
degradation characteristics of elastic modulus described previ-
ously and the nonlinear Drucker–Prager plastic model. Eight-
noded axisymmetric elements were used to model the triaxial
soil samples. The initial stress states of the samples adopted
in the finite element analysis were those corresponding to the
confining stresses used in actual triaxial tests.
Two soil samples were selected for the analyses, one with
silt content equal to 0% at DR ≈ 45% and the other with silt
content equal to 10% at DR ≈ 70%. In the finite element
analyses, values of the modulus degradation parameters f
and g were those obtained from Fig. 8 corresponding to each
silt content and relative density of the triaxial tests. Values
of f and g, respectively, were 0.98 and 0.21 for silt content
equal to 0% and 0.95 and 0.32 for silt content equal to 10%.
All other soil intrinsic input parameters for the silt contents
were obtained from Table 2.
Figure 15 shows the finite element mesh of the triaxial sured and calculated stress–strain curves show a good match
soil samples before loading and after application of a devia- for both test samples.
toric stress leading to 15% axial strain. The deformed mesh
corresponds to sample configurations observed in the triaxial Summary and conclusions
soil samples at the end of the tests. The stress–strain rela-
tionships measured and predicted from the finite element Soils behave nonlinearly from the very early stages of
analyses are given in Fig. 16. As shown in Fig. 16, the mea- loading. Hyperbolic stress–strain models have often been

© 2004 NRC Canada

842 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 41, 2004

Fig. 16. Measured and calculated stress–strain curves. nificantly lower than the real initial elastic modulus E0.
Modulus degradation rate, on the other hand, is excessively
stiff, with g = 1. These two unrealistic assumptions, how-
ever, self-compensate, giving reasonably satisfactory results
in practice.

Analysis and result development of this research were
supported by Korea Research Foundation Grant KRF-2003-

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List of symbols
γ shear strain
a hyperbolic model parameter τ shear stress
b hyperbolic model parameter τmax maximum shear stress

© 2004 NRC Canada