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Airey, D. W. & Wood, D. M. (1987). GCofechnique37, No.


An evaluation of direct simple shear tests on clay

D. W. AIREY* and D. M. WOOD*

Normally consolidated samples of kaolin have Des khantillons normalement consolid&s de kaolin
been tested in two direct simple shear apparatuses. ont eti! test& dans deux appareils pour mesurer le
The first apparatus is specially instrumented with cisaillement simple direct. Le premier appareil
load cells in the horizontal boundaries to investi- etait Cquipi! de cell&s de chargement aux limites
gate the uniformity of the stresses acting on the horizontales afin d’bvaluer l’uniformiti! des con-
samples. The internal deformations and strains are traintes auxquelles les 6chantillons ont Ct6 soumis.
determined using radiographic techniques. The Les d6formations internes ont 6te d&termi&es i
radial stress is determined from membranes rein- I’aide de techniques radiographiques, tandis que la
forced with resistance wire. The second apparatus contrainte radiale fut obtenue P partir de mem-
is a standard commercially available device sup branes arm&es de fil de r&stance. Le deuxicme
plied by Geonor. The stresses and strains are appareil etait un modele normal commercialisi!
shown to be uniform in the central region of the fourni par Geonor. On dbmontre que les d&forma-
sample, away from the vertical boundaries, until tions et les contraintes sont uniformes jusqu’l la
failure. Values of the stress and strain variables rupture dans la zone centrale de l’&chantillon 1 dis-
determined from the central region are representa- tance des limites verticales. Les valeurs des vari-
tive of a uniform simple shear deformation in plane ables de d&formation et de contrainte determink
strain. In all tests the samples fail by developing i partir de la zone centrale repri?sentent une d&for-
approximately horizontal ruptures. Values of the mation d cisaillement simple uniforme en dbforma-
shear modulus and shear strength estimated from tion plane. Dans tous les essais les echantillons se
the average stresses in the Geonor apparatus rompe par suite de ruptures approximativement
underestimate, by approximately lO%, the simple horizontales. Les valeurs du module de cisaillement
shear values. et de la r&stance 1 la rupture au cisaillement Cva-
h&s P partir des contraintes moyennes dans
I’appareil de Geonor sousestiment les valeurs de
KEYWORDS: clays; shear tests. cisaillement simple d’environ 10%.

NOTATION cxx ) oyy normal stresses

a constant z shear stress
C” undrained shear strength zf peak shear stress
d diameter 3x shear stress
G shear modulus #J’ friction angle
h height
4 plasticity index
KO coefficient of earth pressure at rest INTRODUCTION
V specific volume The first direct simple shear device was report-
WL liquid limit ed by Kjellman (1951). This device was produced
X distance to subject soils to uniform deformations and was
x shear distortion, yyx intended as an improvement on the shear box
Y shear strain test. This apparatus was modified by Bjerrum &
EV volumetric strain Landva (1966) so that undisturbed samples could
I. slope of the compression curve be tested. It was found that the strengths mea-
u normal stress sured in simple shear tests gave better agreement
fJr radial stress with the strengths determined from vane tests,
0” vertical stress and from the back analysis of some failures, than
0°C vertical stress after consolidation the strengths measured in triaxial tests. This has
created much interest in simple shear tests, which
have since become standard laboratory tests.
As a standard test the direct simple shear test
* University of Cambridge. has apparent advantages over the triaxial test;


samples are relatively easy to set up and consoli- has been designed (Budhu, 1979; Airey, 1984) so
dation takes place rapidly because of the small that the samples are surrounded by an array of
sample height. From a test involving consoli- load cells. Budhu (1984) has shown that non-
dation and constant volume shearing the com- uniform stresses and strains develop in mono-
pression response, the past maximum pressure, tonic loading of sands and grow with cycling.
the shear modulus and the undrained shear Budhu concluded that the data were too unreli-
strength can be estimated. It is also the only stan- able either to validate mathematical models or to
dard soil test that is capable of applying rotations produce useful empirical relations. A comparison
of the principal stress axes. These rotations occur of the uniformity of stress for sands and clays by
in the majority of field situations and have been Airey & Wood (1984) has shown that the uni-
shown by Symes, Gens & Hight (1984) to lead to formity is much improved for the more plastic
a reduction in strength. Despite the useful data clay samples, and it has been suggested that the
and apparent attractions of simple shear devices results from simple shear tests on clay can be pre-
the significance and suitability for design of the sented with more confidence than the results from
parameters determined from these tests have been sand tests.
the subject of much discussion (e.g. Saada & Having accepted that direct simple shear tests
Townsend (1981), La Rochelle (1981) and Vucetic produce data of reasonable quality the question
& Lacasse (1982)). arises as to how the data can be related to the
The apparatus has been particularly criticized results obtained from other laboratory tests. This
because it cannot impose uniform stresses on the is of interest because the design procedures for
soil samples. In direct simple shear tests only the many field problems (e.g. estimating the shaft
average shear stress T, the average normal stress a resistance of piles) are based on results from tri-
and in some special tests the average radial stress axial tests, but the soil response often bears more
cr are measured on the boundaries (Fig. l(a)). The resemblance to simple shear. Unfortunately it is
relation between these stresses and the stresses on difficult because the principal stresses cannot be
a soil element deformed in simple shear, shown in determined; only the normal and shear stresses
Fig. l(b), has been investigated by theoretical on the horizontal boundaries are measured and it
analysis and by experiment. The results of theo- is not possible to construct a Mohr’s circle of
retical analyses using linear elastic test samples stress. The possible stress states at failure for nor-
(e.g. Lucks, Christian, Brandow & Hoeg (1972), mally consolidated clays have been considered by
Wright, Gilbert & Saada (1978) and Shen, Sadigh Ladd & Edgers (1972), Randolph & Wroth (1981)
& Hermann (1978)) have given conflicting pic- and Wroth (1984). The postulate of de Josselin de
tures of the degree of uniformity of stress. Lucks Jong (1971), that failure might be associated with
et al. (1972) showed that over 70% of the sample vertical rupture planes of maximum stress
was uniformly stressed whereas Wright et al. obliquity, gives good agreement with the reported
(1978) found that the stresses varied throughout data. Mohr’s circle of stress will then appear as
the test specimen and concluded that simple shear shown in Fig. 2, and the stress ratio r/a at failure
devices cannot claim to yield either reliable will be given by
stress-strain relations or absolute failure values.
However, results from tests conducted with real T sin 4’ cos 4’
soils at different height-to-diameter ratios by 0 1 + sin’ f$’
Vucetic & Lacasse (1982) have shown that the
non-uniformities do not affect the measured soil where 4’ is the limiting friction angle. Additional
behaviour. support for this postulate has been claimed from
An accurate picture of the stress non- the results obtained by Borin (1973) from a
uniformities for real soils can only be obtained by special simple shear device in which cuboidal
direct experimental observation. To achieve this samples were completely surrounded by load cells
an instrumented circular simple shear apparatus so that the stress state could be completely

/ //c%
(a) (b)
Fig. 1. Stresses acting on test samples: (a) in the direct simple shear apparatus; (b)
in simple shear

The Geonor apparatus used in these tests is
shown schematically in Fig. 3. The apparatus
accepts cylindrical samples 80 mm in diameter by
approximately 15 mm high. The sample is sur-
rounded by a rubber membrane which is rein-
forced by a helical wire winding having
20 turns/cm. The wire has a diameter of 0.15 mm
and a Young’s modulus of 1.55 x lo6 kg/cm’.
The reinforcement is intended to keep the cross-
sectional area constant and thereby to force the
sample to deform in simple shear. The total
Fig. 2. Mohr’s circle for failure with vertical rupture normal and shear loads are measured by proving
rings and the displacements of the top boundary
by dial gauges. Corrections to the proving ring
readings have been made to allow for friction in
defined. However, Airey, Budhu & Wood (1985) the bearings and for the shear resistance of the
have shown that the ruptures that do develop are reinforced membranes.
approximately horizontal and have questioned The instrumented circular simple shear appar-
the assumptions on which de Josselin de Jong’s atus (CSSA), shown schematically in Fig. 4, is in
postulate is based. principle identical with the Geonor apparatus.
It is evident that simple shear test data cannot Minor modifications have been made to the
easily be related to the data obtained from other CSSA described by Budhu (1984) to enable ‘wet’
apparatuses. However, the results are directly rel- samples of clay to be tested. The test samples are
evant to many field situations; Aas (1980) has 110 mm in diameter by 20 mm high. Resistance
reported that the strength of clay in thin failure wire with a diameter of 0.18 mm and a Young’s
zones can be usefully studied in simple shear tests, modulus of 1.38 x lo6 kg/cm2 has been used to
and Ladd (1973) has reported that the strengths reinforce the rubber membranes. By connecting
estimated from back analyses of embankment the wire into one arm of a Wheatstone bridge
and slope failures give good agreement with the circuit the radial stress can be determined. Five
strengths measured in simple shear tests. load cells are arranged in the shape of a cruciform
In this Paper the results from two tests con- in each of the horizontal boundaries as shown in
ducted in an instrumented simple shear apparatus Fig. 5. For each load cell the vertical force, the
on samples of normally consolidated kaolin are eccentricity of the vertical force and the shear
reported in detail. The results from the instru- force can be determined. These measurements
mented apparatus are compared with the results enable a picture of the stress distribution on the
from two similar tests in a standard Geonor top and bottom boundaries to be built up. It has
direct simple shear device. Before presenting the been found that the greatest departures from the
results the apparatus and test procedure are average stress occur at the ends of the principal
explained. third (see Fig. 5) for which the normal stress dis-

Lever arm

Vertical loading

;=I \

Fig. 3. Geonor direct simple shear apparatus


Loa-, , _ _

+ To burette
Fig. 4. Circular simple shear apparatus

Sample To enable a comparison with results from the

Geonor apparatus, load cells have been provided
to measure the total vertical and horizontal loads
(see Fig. 4).
The tests reported here were conducted on
samples of speswhite kaolin (I,, = 31; wL = 69;
clay fraction, 80%) consolidated one dimension-
ally to a vertical stress of 88 kPa from a slurry
mixed at a water content of 120%. The soil was
extruded from the consolidometer and trimmed
Fig. 5. Arrangement of load cells in the CSSA
to fit the required apparatus. The shear tests were
performed with constant deformation rates of
0.03 mm/h for the CSSA and 0.1 mm/h, the
tribution is estimated by fitting the measured slowest rate available, for the Geonor apparatus.
normal forces and eccentricities to a quintic poly-
nomial of the form RESULTS
0 = a, + n,x + a2 x2 + us x3 + a4x4 + us x5 The behaviours observed in a constant load
and a constant volume test are reported. Before
where a,, a,, . . . , a5 are constants, 0 is the normal the shear phase of the tests all the samples were
stress and x is the distance. consolidated one dimensionally to the desired
The pattern of internal deformations has been stress level and the behaviour during this phase of
investigated by radiography. A combination of the tests is reported first.
lead shot and lead thread markers has been
placed in a central plane of the samples, as shown
in Fig. 6, to determine the strain uniformity and Consolidation
Figure 7 shows a comparison of the specific
to check on the existence of ruptures. The dis-
volume v-vertical effective stress 6,’ responses in
placements of the top and bottom boundaries are
one-dimensional compression for a sample con-
measured by linear variable differential trans-
solidated from a slurry in a large oedometer, a
ducers (LVDTs) and the drainage leads are con-
sample in the CSSA and a sample in the Geonor
nected to a burette to measure volume changes.
apparatus. The slopes 1 of the compression
curves are 0.20, 0.18 and 0.19 respectively. By
using any of the standard methods a reasonable
estimate of the past maximum stress of 88 kPa
can be obtained for the samples in the simple
shear apparatus. For this remoulded clay the
compression behaviour can be determined to an
Fig. 6. Initial position of lead shot and lead thread acceptable accuracy from the simple shear appar-
markers atus.

- a = 0.0 ’
_-_ (r = 0.1

300 -- a = 0.2 ::’

0 Oedometer
“tE 200 / 7 ,_’ - - “Ly-_‘,
A Geonor

y 100,’
i \

s 2.4- 100
,/ -.
2oom - -,_
2-2- 300 1

Fig. 9. Normal stress distributions on the principal third

for a constant load test

20 50 100 200 500
satisfactory value of K, to be determined. If,
ov: kN/m’ however, the ratio of membrane-to-soil stiffness is
too small, very low K, values and highly non-
Fig. 7. Comparison of the compression responses deter-
mined from three apparatuses
uniform normal stress distributions can result
(Airey & Wood, 1984).
A measurement of the radial stress during one-
dimensional compression permits the coefticient
Constant load test
of earth pressure at rest, K,, to be estimated.
Fig. 8 shows the variation in radial stress cr with The normal and shear stress distributions on
vertical stress eV for a typical test. A straight line the top and bottom boundaries of the principal
third, at different shear distortions (a = y,J, are
with K, = 0.69 is drawn for comparison; this is
the average value obtained at Cambridge by shown in Figs 9 and 10 respectively. Changes in
several researchers from a variety of apparatuses. the normal stress distribution during shear occur
After the preconsolidation pressure has been only near the ends of the sample. As expected the
exceeded experience suggests that K, should be shear stress distribution is rather less uniform
because of the lack of shear stress on the vertical
constant but the data appear to show K, increas-
faces of the sample. A detailed examination of the
ing. This behaviour can be attributed (Airey,
load cell data (Airey, 1984) shows that small shear
1984) to small lateral deformations of the rein-
stresses are generated as a result of the lateral
forced membranes, deformations which are
incompatible with the intended K, condition of deformations of the reinforced membrane during
no lateral strain. For this clay the ratio of mem- consolidation. The influence of these membrane
brane stiffness to soil stiffness was sufficient for a deformations appears to decrease as the sample
approaches failure. The effects of the small mem-
brane deformations are unlikely to influence the

- +_zr--_--__

I---- -

Fig. 10. Shear stress distributions on the principal third

Fig. 8. Variation in radial stress daring consolidation for a constant load test

Fig. 11. Discontinuities in the markers indicating the

rupture planes

stress state away from the vertical boundaries and

it is suggested that over 50% of the sample is uni-
formly stressed. CSSA sample core
It is the intention of simple shear apparatuses CSSA average
to apply a uniform simple shear deformation to
the test samples under conditions of plane strain.
To verify this, lead shot were placed in two per-
02 0.3
pendicular vertical planes, normal and parallel to
the direction of shear. Only the sample core may Fig. 13. Comparison of stress ratio-shear distortion
be considered to deform under plane strain condi- behaviour from the CSSA and Geonor apparatuses
tions, as small out-of-plane movements, greatest
near *the reinforced membrane, were detected.
the sample, can give a misleading picture of the
(The central plane, parallel to the shear direction,
is a plane of symmetry for which no out-of-plane true state of strain.
It has been found that the stresses and strains
movements are expected.) The shear and volu-
in the sample core (see Fig. 5) of a clay specimen
metric strains were uniform throughout the
tested in the circular simple shear apparatus are
region of the lead shot grid up to a shear distor-
both uniform and representative of a sample
tion of 25%. At this stage a localization of soil
undergoing simple shear deformations in a state
response occurred and most of the subsequent
of plane strain, provided that ruptures do not
deformation was concentrated in thin rupture
zones. The orientation of the rupture planes develop in the sample. In the Geonor apparatus it
is not possible to determine the simple shear
shown in Fig. 11, has been discussed by Airey
behaviour directly because only the average
et nl. (1985). After the ruptures have formed, the
stresses on the boundaries are measured. Fig. 13
reinforced membranes become distorted and inca-
shows a comparison of the stress ratio r/a-shear
pable of enforcing the boundary conditions
distortion CL responses determined from the
required for uniform simple shear deformation.
sample core of the CSSA and from the average
Fig. 12 shows a comparison of the volumetric
stresses for the CSSA and Geonor apparatus.
strain &,-shear distortion c( responses calculated
(Tests on normally consolidated samples at differ-
from the displacements of the lead shot and from
ent normal stresses gave similar ~/a-a responses.)
the boundary displacements, and the volumetric
The average stress ratios mobilized in the two
strains calculated from the burette measurements.
apparatuses are practically identical. This is not
For the initial stage of uniform shearing there is
surprising as the height-to-diameter ratios h/d of
good agreement between the strains determined
the CSSA and Geonor samples were approx-
by the three methods; however, after ruptures
imately the same and equal to 0.17. Vucetic &
develop, strains determined from the boundary
Lacasse (1982) have reported similar responses
displacements, assuming uniform deformation of
from samples with h/d ratios varying between
0 0.14 and 0.32. The average stress ratios are lower
0 than the ‘simple shear’ stress ratio throughout the
0.1 0 0
test; there is a difference of 8% between the peak
values. The volumetric strain-shear strain
0.08 responses determined from the two apparatuses
were identical until ruptures developed. Radio-
graphs taken at the end of the test in the Geonor
apparatus revealed a similar pattern of ruptures
to that observed in the larger CSSA.

Constant volume test

The majority of reported direct simple shear
tests have been conducted to determine, among
Fig. 12. Comparison of strains calculated from external other things, the undrained shear strength. It has
and internal measurements not proved possible to perform truly undrained

tests in the direct simple shear apparatus and the

undrained simple shear response is normally
investigated by performing drained tests at con-
stant volume. The changes in vertical stress that
are seen should correspond (Airey & Wood, 1986)
to the pore pressures that would be measured in
an undrained test. For there to be similarity
between the undrained and the constant volume
tests the apparatus has to impose a uniform
deformation with no volume change. The internal 1001

strains determined from the lead shot mesh Fig. 15. Shear stress distributions on the principal third
showed that the shear strains were uniform and for a constant volume test
the volumetric strains zero up to a shear distor-
tion of ll%, at which point localization of the determined from the sample core stresses and the
deformation occurred. The shear distortion, ll%, boundary displacements. The shear stress r-shear
at localization was significantly less than the strain y curves determined from the average
shear distortion, 25%, at which localization boundary measurements and from the sample
occurred in the constant load test, and the core are compared in Fig. 16. As for the constant
rupture orientation was closer to the horizontal load test the average shear stress underestimates
direction. Good agreement was again obtained the simple shear stress by about 8%. From the
between the shear strains determined from the stress-strain curves values of the shear modulus
internal and boundary displacements. After the G can be estimated. Values of the secant shear
ruptures had formed, the constant volume condi- modulus normalized by the peak shear stress rr at
tion was only maintained in an overall sense, the 50% mobilized shear strength (G&r) are 130 for
rupture planes compressed and the intact soil the sample core and 125 for the average stresses.
dilated slightly. Clearly the behaviour determined Because the average peak shear stress is lower
from the direct simple shear apparatus after than the sample core value the shear modulus
rupture should be analysed as a boundary value should be underpredicted by about 10% when
problem; it no longer represents constant volume determined from standard direct simple shear
simple shear. tests. However, it was found that the Geonor
The normal and shear stress distributions on apparatus gave G,,/r, = 220, which is a signifi-
the principal third during a constant volume test cantly higher value than had been measured in
are shown in Figs 14 and 15 respectively. The the CSSA. This difference is thought to have been
reduction in the normal stress during the shear caused by small horizontal displacements (less
test is apparent and it can be seen that this does than 0.01 mm) between the measuring point and
not result in any marked decrease in the degree of the sample in the Geonor apparatus.
uniformity of the normal stress, as only small A unique stress ratio r/c-shear strain y
regions near the ends of the sample see stresses response has been found (Airey, 1984) for nor-
that are much different from the average values. mally consolidated kaolin before rupture. This is
The shear stress distribution is similar to that
observed for the constant load test with the great-
est stress on the sample core.
Provided that ruptures have not formed, the
constant volume simple shear response may be

0 0.1 0.2 0.3


Fig. 14. Normal stress distributions on the principal Fig. 16. Stress-strain responses determined from the
third for a coorstant volume teat CSSA

of the ruptured material. These three parts are

0.4- .. .._. considered in turn.
,..... _,_----
,...;.> *l

Uniform shearing
/ It is intended with all laboratory tests that the
behaviour of a test sample should be representa-
tive of a point in the ground. This can only be
$ 0.2
o’3: // true if the stresses and strains are uniform, a

Ii -..’
CSSA sample core
requirement that no laboratory test yet devised
can completely satisfy. The uniformity of stress
and strain in the simple shear apparatus is argu-
ably better than in a standard triaxial apparatus
I used with rough ends. In triaxial tests consider-
I able bulging of the samples occurs as the tests
0 0.1 0.2 0.3
Y approach failure, and the stresses and strains
cannot be uniform throughout. Results obtained
Fig. 17. Stress ratio-&ear strain responses from COO- from triaxial tests, however, do not receive the
stant volume tests
same degree of suspicion that meets results from
simple shear tests. A comparison of triaxial tests
compared with the stress rat&shear strain on clay with and without frictionless ends by
response determined from the Geonor apparatus Duncan & Dunlop (1968) showed that the tests
in Fig. 17. The corresponding stress paths, nor- on clay without frictionless ends underestimated
malized by the effective vertical stress after con- the stiffness and strength by, on average, 5% and
solidation, u,, , are shown in Fig. 18. The Duncan and Dunlop concluded that frictionless
response determined from the sample core after ends were only worthwhile for careful research
the ruptures develop is shown by dotted lines in work. The underestimation of the stiffness and
these figures to emphasize that this is no longer strength in simple shear by using the average
the simple shear response. The stress ratio is stresses is about lo%, which from a practical
increasing quickly when localization of the defor- viewpoint is not very significant. For research
mation occurs but the stress-strain curves are work the use of a single load cell in the centre of
fairly flat. Values for the normalized strength one of the horizontal boundaries has several
sr/c,, of 0.175 and 0.152 can be estimated from advantages: the simple shear behaviour can be
the sample core and from the average stresses determined directly, frictional forces in the bear-
respectively, a difference of 13%. ings can be neglected and no corrections are
necessary to allow for the stiffness of the mem-
branes. For the standard test, however, it would
DISCUSSION OF RESULTS be difficult to justify the added complexity associ-
An analysis of the behaviour of clays in the
ated with the use of such a load cell.
simple shear apparatus can be split into three
Provided that rupture planes do not develop in
parts. The first part is concerned with the behav-
the sample the stress-strain behaviour from direct
iour determined before ruptures develop when the
simple shear tests on clay can be presented with
stresses and strains in the samples are relatively
uniform. The second part is concerned with the
To construct a Mohr’s circle of stress, the
conditions governing failure and the development
lateral stress 0,, must be estimated. For sands
of ruptures, and the final part with the behaviour
this has been achieved (e.g. Budhu (1979)) by
assuming coincidence of the principal axes of
0.21 -. CSSA sample core stress and strain increment; however, it has been
-.- Geonor shown by Borin (1973) that no such coincidence
exists for normally consolidated kaolin. The
radial stress measurements can provide an
approximate means of determining c,.. and differ-
ent assumptions have been made (Airey et al.,
1985; Prevost & Hseg, 1976; Youd & Craven,
1975) to enable this to be done. There is little to
I be gained by measuring the radial stress in stan-
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 .o
“*VC dard tests; the estimated K, values are unreliable
Fig. 18. Normal&d stress paths from constant volume because of the lateral deformations of the mem-
tests branes and the estimated Q,, values can at best

only give a qualitative guide to the differing the simple shear value it could underestimate
behaviour of different clays or in tests at different cJQ,, by a significant amount.
overconsolidation ratios. Constant load direct simple shear tests have
been criticized by La Rochelle (1981) because they
Failure give the same failure envelope as shear box tests.
It has been found that the clay samples strain Shear box tests conducted by Airey (1984) on
uniformly until a shear distortion of 11% in con- normally consolidated samples of speswhite
stant volume tests and 25% in constant load tests kaolin gave 7/a = 0.31 compared with 7/a = 0.3
when localization of the deformation occurs. This in simple shear. If only the failure conditions are
clearly represents a failure of the test samples; the of interest there is little advantage in performing
test results after ruptures have developed are no direct simple shear tests. The constant load
longer representative of a point in the ground. simple shear test has the advantage that the
Wroth (1984) has suggested that failure in simple stress-strain behaviour before failure can be
shear tests should be associated with conditions investigated.
of maximum stress obliquity; however, the forma-
tion of ruptures is more often associated with
peak conditions which are known to depend on Post failure
the test type and procedure. Very different post-failure behaviours are
Although it has been shown that failure in obtained from the constant load and constant
direct simple shear tests should be associated with volume tests.
the development of ruptures it is not easy to The stress ratio r/u-shear distortion c( response
detect them. The stress-strain curves are flat and for a constant load test taken to large deforma-
the stress ratio is increasing rapidly when rupture tions is shown in Fig. 19. Between shear distor-
occurs. For this reason failure in direct simple tions of 0.25 and 0.6 the stress ratio remains
shear tests is taken to occur when the shear stress approximately constant. During this phase of the
reaches a peak. Because the stress-strain curves test further rupture planes develop, approx-
are fairly flat near the peak it is difficult to esti- imately parallel to the initial rupture plane. Even-
mate the stress ratio 7/c at failure, but values of tually the deformation becomes concentrated in a
the normalized strength 7&,, are little affected. single rupture and the shear stress begins to drop.
It has been suggested that the Mohr circle The drop in strength is thought to be associated
drawn in Fig. 2 gives a reasonable estimate of the with the alignment of the platey kaolin particles
failure stress state for normally consolidated in the rupture plane. Lupini (1981) has reported
clays. In view of the difficulty of estimating z/u at that large displacements of 200 mm are required
failure, and the doubts mentioned earlier about for the strength of speswhite kaolin to reduce to
the assumptions made to draw the Mohr circle, its residual value, but in the CSSA the greatest
the good agreement with the data reported by movement on a rupture was only 5 mm. Current-
Randolph & Wroth (1981) is surprising. It is clear ly available simple shear apparatuses cannot
nevertheless that the value of 7&r,, will in general impose the large deformations that are necessary
underestimate the normalized undrained shear if the residual strength is to be mobilized and
strength I&,, . Because the value of 7Jovc deter- since they do not force a concentrated rupture
mined from the Geonor apparatus underestimates zone they are not well suited for such investiga-
The post-failure behaviour in constant volume
tests is dependent on the orientation of the
rupture planes. For kaolin a horizontal rupture
eventually develops (coincident with one of the
no-extension directions), and the stress ratio 7/u
approaches a constant value. A constant volume
test on a slightly more plastic (IP = 35) Gault clay
(Airey, 1984) produced a different pattern of rup-
tures and a different post-failure response. The
ruptures emanated from the ends of the sample
associated with the greatest normal stress and
then petered out in the centre. The shear stress
continued to increase after the ruptures had
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 developed. Wroth (1984) has noted the apparently
a greater strengths determined from direct simple
Fig. 19. Stress rstio-sbear distortion response from a shear tests for soils with plasticity indices greater
constant load test than 35, which can now be explained by the dif-

less than the normalized undrained shear strength

0.4 - c&J,, 9 so the normalized shear strength deter-
mined from the average stresses may significantly
d underpredict the undrained shear strength in
0.2- simple shear. The value of 4’ estimated from the
constant volume tests at large shear distortions
: by assuming t/u = tan 4’ will be underestimated.
I \ The use of special reinforced membranes to
0 o-2 0.4 O-6 0.6 1.o
b/U”,,’ estimate the radial stress cannot be recommend-
ed. They can only be relied on to give a qualita-
Fig. 20. Normal&d stress path from an undrained test tive view, illuminating the differences between, for
(data from Gale (1981)) instance, samples with different overconsolidation
ferent patterns of ruptures that develop for these Direct simple shear tests are commonly per-
soils. formed to determine the compression behaviour,
The constant volume condition is only main- undrained shear modulus and undrained shear
tained in an average sense after the ruptures strength of clays. The test gives a good estimate
develop and localized zones of compression and of the compression response and has the advan-
dilation can occur. In a truly undrained test there tage that consolidation takes place rapidly
will be different restraints and a different post- because of the small sample height. The measured
failure response might be expected. Fig. 20 shows shear moduli and undrained strengths will be less
the stress path obtained by Gale (1981) from an than the simple shear values, typically by lo%,
undrained simple shear test on a silty soil. In the thus providing conservative design parameters.
apparatus used by Gale the wire reinforcement
was replaced by an all-round confining pressure
and the influence of this on the results is unclear. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
None the less it shows the normal stress rising at The work described forms part of the investiga-
large strains in contrast with the falling normal tion into the simple shear behaviour of soils
stress seen in the constant volume test. which has been conducted at Cambridge. The
By assuming that the horizontal plane is a funding for the equipment has been provided by
plane of maximum stress obliquity at large defor- the Building Research Establishment who also
mations a value for the friction angle 4’ can very generously loaned their Geonor direct
be estimated from 4’ = tan- ‘(r/a). A value of simpIe shear apparatus for use in this research.
4’ = 22” was determined for kaolin, using the
sample core stress ratio, which is virtually identi-
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