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Session 2/24

An Apparatus for the Application of Simple Shear

to Soil Samples
Appareil pour l’application de cisaillement pur à des échantillons de sol

by K. H. R o sc o e , M .C., M .A ., A .M .I.M ech.E ., The Engineering Laboratories, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England

Summary Sommaire

The paper describes a new “ direct-shear” apparatus designed to Le présent rapport décrit un nouvel appareil conçu pour appliquer
apply uniform two dimensional simple shear strain to rectangular une déformation uniforme de cisaillement biaxial à des échantillons
soil samples while also permitting the measurement o f volume rectangulaires de sol, tout en permettant de mesurer les changements
changes during shear. Photographs of striped plasticine samples de volume subis pendant l’essai. Nous montrons des photographies
after deformation through angles of shear as large as tan -1 { are d’échantillons de plasticine rayés après leur déformation jusqu’à un
shown and compared with similar samples in the standard shear box. angle de cisaillement de tan -1£ et comparons ces photographies
Finally a stress function is developed which satisfies precisely the avec celles d’échantillons semblables obtenus dans l’appareil de
external boundary conditions imposed by the apparatus on the Casagrande. Finalement nous obtenons une fonction de tension qui
sample. The stress function is then used to determine the stresses satisfait exactement aux conditions imposés par l’appareil à la sur­
in and the displacements of the sample assuming the latter behaves face de l’échantillon. La fonction de tension est ensuite utilisée pour
as an elastic material. The stresses are expressed in terms of the déterminer les tensions subies par l’échantillon ainsi que ses déplace­
externally applied horizontal shearing force per unit area o f hori­ ments en supposant qu’il se comporte comme un matériau élastique.
zontal cross section of the sample and the displacements are cal­ Les tensions sont exprimées en fonction de l’effort moyen de cisaille­
culated in terms of the angle of shear strain. ment horizontal rapporté à l’unité de surface de la section droite
horizontale de l’échantillon, tandis que les déplacements sont cal­
culés en fonction de l’angle de glissement.

The disadvantages o f the standard shear box as a means o f across a horizontal circular cross section cannot be uniform
im posing uniform shear stress to a soil sam ple are well known since they must be tangential to the circular boundary unless
( Terzaghi and P eck, 1948). They include:— (i) the effects o f the vertical w alls o f the apparatus are capable o f im posing
“ progressive” shear failure from the ends and sides o f the box, vertical shear stresses to the sample. This latter condition is
(ii) the unknow n stress distribution within the box, (iii) the not likely to be satisfied as can be seen from Fig. 1. W hen the
tendency for the b ox to tip at light loads, and (iv) under light sam ple A B C D undergoes sim ple shear through an angle k to
norm al load s one w ould expect parts o f the sam ple to be sub­ A 'B 'C D there is theoretically n o volum e change by definition
jected to tensile stresses. o f simple shear for elastic materials and hence the sides A D
On the other hand the com parative ease o f preparation o f and B C must increase in length to A 'D and B 'C . T he vertical
undisturbed sam ples, the simplicity o f the laboratory technique walls in the Swedish apparatus consist o f rubber tubing rein-
and the shortness o f the maximum drainage path in this type
o f apparatus offer considerable advantages when compared A A' B B1
with the triaxial machine.
O f the recent attempts to m odify the direct shear apparatus
so that it im poses a uniform sim ple shear to a soil sam ple the
Swedish S.G .I. routine apparatus (Kjellm an, 1951) w ould ap­ D C
pear to^be the m ost successful. H ow ever it suffers from the Fig. t D iagram m atic Sim p le Shear Strain
objection that the sam ples are cylindrical and the shear stresses Schém a de d éform ation de cisaillem en t sim ple

forced at frequent intervals by metal rings which are not con ­ dealt with in a similar manner and both ft and f t are screwcd
strained vertically. Hence as the shear strain proceeds the to the base a , and and are rigidly connected by the upper
rubber tubing must stretch under the action o f the applied end plates <5j and <52.
external shear force but at the same time the rubber should The end flaps t! and t 2 are then placed in position and are
be so rigid that it does not m ove under the action o f its co n ­ so designed that they are hinged about the points A' and B'
tact stresses with the soil. These two conditions are mutually in Fig. 2 A . The inside edges o f the flaps are held against the
incom patible. A further objection to this apparatus is that base a at C and D by roller bearings mounted on swivel
volum e changes o f the actual soil sample are not likely to be brackets R and S which are hinged respectively about C and D.
recorded correctly ow ing to som e yield o f the rubber tubing Owing to the varying length o f A 'D and B 'C as the sample
under pressure. is sheared the full m ovem ent o f and e2 relative to a will
From w hat has been said above it is apparent that it is not occur at C and D . T o overcom e this effect a rubber sheet is
likely that any apparatus can be m ade which will im pose uni­ stretched from the slot G in ^ past B ' and C to a slot H in
form simple shear stress together with the complementary the base a. A thin film o f lubricant is placed between the
shear stress upon the surfaces o f a sample. But the apparatus rubber and the brass ej. The end flap f 2 is dealt with in the
described below does im pose simple shear strain to a sample same manner. Hence the “ end effects” o f the standard box
by a com bination o f shear stresses imposed on the boundaries apparatus have been eliminated.
A B and C D and a varying normal stress distribution upon all The piston 0 is long and is constrained to m ove vertically
the sides o f the rectangle. by the tall sides <51; (52, y x and y 2. The height o f the sam ple is
chosen so that there is minimum clearance between the bottom
D escrip tio n o f A p p aratu s o f the piston and the upper limit A 'B ' o f the zone o f shear
strain. The bottom o f the piston must at no time get below
In order to use the loading frame and hangers o f the standard the line A 'B ' otherwise it will foul the flap Ej.
strain control and stress control shear boxes the apparatus was
made to take a sam ple 6 cm x 6 cm horizontal dim ensions M eth o d o f in sertin g sam p les
and approxim ately 2 cm high. Schematic vertical sectional
elevations o f the apparatus are shown in Figs. 2 A and 2B. This prototype m odel in its present form is only suitable for
The solid brass base a is m ounted on a rigid steel plate ?/ with rapid undrained tests but could easily be adapted for other
steel grooved tracks T and Q which run on corresponding types o f test. A s yet only relatively firm cohesive samples and
tracks o f the strain control loading frame. The side o f the dry cohesionless sam ples have been tested in the apparatus.
apparatus is m ade up o f tw o brass parts f t and y x which run Prior to inserting a sample a thin sheet o f 00 sand paper is
on each other on ball bearings N with the minimum possible glued to the bottom o f the piston and another to the upper
clearance between them. T w o roller bearings J are rigidly face C D o f the base a.
attached to yx and a steel track K is pressed on to the wheels For occasions when it is desired to ensure the minimum
J by the adjustable screw L and the rigid bracket M which is possible disturbance o f a firm cohesive sam ple while placing
fixed to ft. H ence ft and y t can slide relative to each other it in the apparatus and while removing it after shear the fol­
with n o danger o f y x tipping. Before attaching the side ft y t low ing procedure is adopted. The sam ple is placed on the
to the base a a sheet o f rubber approxim ately .002" thick is base a and the apparatus is then built up round it. A fter shear­
stretched over the w hole o f the area E E -F F and is held fixed ing the sam ple the apparatus can be taken apart before re­
by pressing steel rods into the grooves E E and FF. The stretch m oving the sample from the base a. Fig. 6 show s the partially
o f the rubber is such that as the apparatus m oves from the dismantled apparatus containing a sheared sample.
position A B C D to A 'B 'C D in Fig. 1 the shortened diagonal The detailed technique o f testing real soils and the experi­
A 'C o f the rubber sheet does not tend to buckle. Before ap­ mental results obtained with this apparatus w ill be compared
plying the rubber sheet a thin layer o f a silicone lubricant with those obtained by other m ethods in a separate paper.
D C 7 which does n ot damage the rubber is applied between
the sheet and the brass. By this means the “ edge effects” o f R u b b er-B rass L ub rican ts
the standard box apparatus are eliminated. The side f t y 2 is
Before the apparatus was m ade an extensive series o f tests
were carried out to discover the m ost effective lubricant. This
i— i
was found to be a silicone D C 1 which under test gave constant
frictional properties from the second to tenth day after appli­
cation. It had no deleterious effect upon the rubber and the
“ zero ” shear force required to m ove the apparatus through
its full travel, when the sample space was filled with water,
was found to be independent o f the normal load on the piston.
The apparatus was always set up and the lubricant applied
to rubber-brass contact faces tw o days before carrying out
a test.

P ractical R esu lts in the A tta in m en t o f S im p le S h ear Strain

A series o f plasticine sam ples were made up in a press so

WITH ENDS €, K( t REMOVED that they contained stripes at approxim ately centimetre inter­
F16. 2 a . FIG. 2 B. vals. See Fig. 3. The samples were then cut in a special jig
Fig. 2 Vertical Sectional E levations o f A p p aratu s by means o f a fine “ ch eese” wire (.001" D) to 6 cm >• 6 cm
Vues en coupe verticale de l’appareil 2.2 cm high.

graph the bottom slice was the edge o f the sam ple which had
been next to the side o f the apparatus; the third slice down
from the top shows conditions at the centre o f the sam ple; the
second (thicker) slice from the top show s conditions three
quarters o f the way through the sam ple; and the uppermost
(thicker) slice show s the conditions at the far side o f the sample.
It will be observed that the stripes all tend to curve vertically
in the upper portion o f these slices. This corresponds to the
portion o f the sam ple which lies between the piston and the
upper lim it o f shear strain (A 'B ' in Fig. 2 A). In the right hand
colum n o f Fig. 4 this upper 2 mm portion has been removed
from each slice by means o f a razor and the slices have been
turned through the angle o f shear. If uniform simple shear has
been attained, the stripes should give straight lines continuous
through the slices.
For contrast with the centre colum n the left hand colum n
Fig . 3 P lasticine Sam ple before Shear o f Fig. 4 show s a sliced sam ple after shearing in a standard
E ch antillon de plasticin e avant le cisaillem en t type box.
In all the sam ples shown in Fig. 4 the normal load was
A sam ple was then “ built in ” to the apparatus and sheared. 400 lbs. and prior to rem oving the sam ple from the piston
After shearing, the end flaps, sides and upper portion o f the and base there was no sign o f any tension zones at the bou n ­
apparatus were removed leaving only the piston, sam ple and daries o f the sample.
base a. After inspection the sam ple was separated from the In Fig. 5 the right hand colum n show s a sam ple after shearing
piston and base by passing the cheese wire through it as close in the new apparatus under a light normal load o f 10 lbs. The
as possible to the rough faces o f the 00 sand paper. H alf the same sam ple is also shown prior to rem oval from the apparatus
sam ple was then cut into slices approxim ately 2 mm thick, the in Fig. 6 and this clearly displays the tension zones at the upper
remaining half was cut in tw o and the w hole sam ple was laid leading and lower trailing corners o f the sample. For contrast
out as show n in the centre colum n o f Fig. 4. In this p h oto­ again another sam ple sheared in the standard box under a light

m i-

Fig. 4 C o m p a r iso n o fD e fo r m a tio n o fS a m p le sa fte r S h e a r in g in S ta n d a r d Fig. 5 C o m p a r iso n o fD e fo r m a tio n o fS a m p le sa fte r S h e a r in g in S ta n d a r d

B ox w ith th o se from the new A pparatu s under L arge N o rm a l L oads B ox w ith th at from the new A pparatu s under S m all N o rm al L oads
C om p araison des d éform ation s de cisaillem en t subies par des C om p araison des d éform ations de cisaillem en t subies par des
éch an tillon s so u s charge lourde verticale dans l’appareil de C asa- éch an tillon s sou s charge légère verticale dans l’appareil de C asa-
gran de avec les d éform ations ob ten u es dans le nou vel appareil grande et des d éform ation s o b ten u es dans le nou vel appareil

normal load o f 10 lbs. is shown in the left hand colum n of
Fig. 5 and also in Fig. 7. This latter Fig. 7 clearly indicates
the tensile zones at the leading end o f the upper and the trail­
ing end o f the lower faces, and also the separation from the
leading edge o f the upper half o f the box and from the trailing
edge o f the lower part o f the box. It should be compared with
Fig. 8 which show s a similar sam ple sheared through the same
displacement but under a normal load o f 400 lbs.
In all the above tests the samples have been sheared through
displacements that are considerably greater than those re­
quired to attain shear failure in order to em phasise the tension

Mathematical Analysis
In order to be able to obtain som e conception o f the m agni­
tude o f the stresses and displacements in the sam ple a m athe­
Fig. 6 Sid e V iew o f in Sam p le P artially D ism a n tled A pparatu s S h ow ­ m atical analysis was carried out as summarised below but is
in g T en sio n z o n e s after Shear under Sm all N o rm a l L oad
strictly only valid for elastic materials. N evertheless the solu­
V ue de profil de l’é ch a n tillo n dans l’appareil partiellem ent dé­
m o n té illustrant les zo n e s d e tension après la d éform ation sou s tions should apply to soils in the first stages o f deform ation
charge légère verticale and can be considered as a guide to the behaviour for large
deform ations. T he full details o f the analysis w ill be published
If / is the length, b is the breadth and 2 h the height o f the
sam ple, k is the angle o f shear, and the other sym bols are as
used by Timoshenko and Goodier (1951) then the stress

<I> = cos ar x {CV3sinh aTy + Cr> • y ■cosh aT ■y) (1)

where a r = —j - , is found to satisfy the boundary conditions

o f Fig. 9, which are identical with those im posed upon the

sample when no load is applied to the piston, provided

V - 0, u. : Kh
Fig. 7 Side view o f sa m p le from standard b ox sh o w in g tension effects
after shear, under sm all n orm al lo a d , through the sam e disp lace­ u - hs ;
m ent as Fig. 8 T =0
J x-o
V ue de profil de l’éch antillon retiré de l’appareil de Casagrande
m on trant les résultats de la tension après le cisaillem en t, sous ° tr *0, u =-teh
charge légère verticale, ca u sée par le m êm e déplacem ent que
Fig. 9 B ound ary con d ition s
dans la Fig. 8 C o n d ition s à la surface

(i) C r, Cr> = 0 when r is even and (ii) for / = b = 6 and

It = 1 and v = &, which is justifiable if the sam ple is sheared
so rapidly that no volum e change can occur, then when r is odd
Crj 4 4 sinh ar + 3ar cosh ar
Ek 9a3r 5 sinh aTcosh aT + 3ar
CV sinh ar
Ek 3a2 5 sinh aTcosh ar + 3ar
Temporarily leaving out the suffix r equation (1) gives
ax = 2 7 c o sa A :[C 2a2s i n h a y + C 3a(2sin h ajy + a>'COShaj')} (4)
Oy = 2 7 — a 2 cos a x {C2 sinh a y + C3^ c o sh ay) .. (5)

F ig. 8 Side view o f sa m p le from standard b o x sh o w in g tension effects Txy = ¿7 “ sin a x {a C2 cosh a y + C 3 (cosh a y + a y sinh ay)j (6)
after shear, under large n orm al lo a d , through the sam e disp lace­
E u — 2 7 i-sincur{(3C2a J-4C3) sinh ay + 3C3aycosha>>} + E k y (7)
m ent as Fig. 7
V ue de profil de l’éch antillon retiré de l’appareil de C asagrande and
et m on trant les résultats de la tension après le cisaillem en t,
E v = 2 7 — i cos a x {(3C2a — C3) cosh a y + 3C 3a y sinh a y] +
so u s charge lourde verticale, ca u sée par le m êm e d éplacem ent que
dans la Fig. 7 + E k (3 — x ) (8)

By integrating the horizontal forces acting on the boundaries sam ple but develops tensile stresses over the leading end o f the
o f the upper half o f the sam ple it was possible to express E k upper face and the trailing end o f the lower face. The cor­
and hence the stresses in terms o f s, which is the average shear responding com pressive stresses are developed over the re­
stress applied to the sample i.e. the external horizontal force maining portions o f the upper and lower faces. The stresses
applied to the apparatus divided by the horizontal cross sec­ on each surface show skew symmetry about .v = 3 and develop
tional area o f the sample. pure couples which assist in balancing that due to r M/ on the
The above equations lead to infinite series for determining upper and lower faces.
the stresses and displacements at any point within the sam ple (ii) ax. Equation (4) reveals by inspection that ax = 0 for
but these series can all be summed to any required degree o f all values o f x when y = 0 and for all values o f y when * = 3.
exactitude and the results o f the com putations are show n in Values o f a j s over the ends o f the sam ple (A D and B C in Fig. 9)
Figs. 10, 11 and 12. are plotted as curves (6) and (7) in Fig. 12. The infinite value
o f <rr at x = 0 or 6 and y = ¿ 1 is actually half the value o f
R esu lts from M ath em atical A n a ly sis

(a) Displacements
(i) u. Jt is hoped that u will be equal to k y throughout the
sample. From the conditions o f the analysis it is obvious that
ii = k y at all points on the perimeter o f the sample. From
equation (7) ii = k y for all values o f x when y = 0. W hen
x --- 3 and y =-- £ the calculated value o f u = + .50012A'
instead o f ^ .50000£. W hen x = 1J or and y = the
calculated value o f u = ± .5178 k instead o f i t .5000 k.
(ii) v. From the fact that the boundary conditions o f Fig. 9
are satisfied by the stress function it is obvious that v = 0 over

X O '/6 '/3 1 2 2 l/3 2 2/3 3

S FOR y= +1 -o o — 456 -1 7 5 -•033 - 0 0 6 -001 + 003 +•002 0
X 0 v 3 2/ 3 1 l'/2 2 V 'l 3
Foay.±l 0 •S45 ■657 •935 1-09 Ml
• 419 • 164 • 049 • 005 -008 -006 -003 0



V + 1 • 005 -■007 -003 0

fc FOR y - - z •358
Fig. II C urves (3) and (4): Vertical stresses on upper and lovver faces
o f sam ple
Fig. 10 V ertical displacem ents C urve (5): Shear stresses on upper and low er faces o f sa m p le
D ép la cem en ts verticaux C ourbes (3) et (4): T en sion s verticales aux faces supérieu re et
inférieure de l’éch antillon
C ourbe (5): T en sion de cisaillem en t aux faces supérieure et in­
the top and bottom faces (AB and C D ) o f the sample. When férieure de l’éch antillon
x = 3 and for all values o f y it is apparent from inspection o f
equation (8) that v = 0. It is to be hoped that v = 0 through­
out but this is not so at the extreme ends o f the sam ple for
reasons which will be explained below. The values o f v /k for "c Üs v e '{7 ) x • 6

all values o f x and for y = 0 is shown by curve (1) o f Fig. 10 ÜC ■ 0

and the corresponding values for y = -Jz i are show n in curve _ .J — 2 — I

(2) o f Fig. 10.

(b) Stresses
y O ’/ 2 1 Fig. 12 Stresses on ends o f sam ple
(i) From inspection o f equation (5) it is apparent that S i Í0 R 1 = 0 0 -0 2 7 -C O T en sion s aux extrém ités de
S ’ l’éch antillon
rr,, = 0 for all values o f x when y = 0 and also that au = 0
for all values o f y when x = 3. The values o f a j s on the top
and bottom face o f the sample (A B and C D in Fig. 9) are <j }/ at these points. As can be seen from the curves the stresses
plotted in Fig. 11 as curves (3) and (4) respectively. These show skew symmetry about y = 0 over the end faces. They
curves reveal that, for the case o f no net load on the piston, produce pure couples on each end which when subtracted from
a j s is virtually zero over the middle third o f the surface o f the those due to rr on the top and bottom faces exactly counter­

balance the couple due to r v(/ on the top and bottom faces o f stress point o f view throughout the bulk of the sample. Further­
the sample. more the extent o f the tensile zones under any normal load P
(iii) Txy. Values o f t x,Js on the top and bottom faces o f the can be predicted by superposing PI As, where A is the horizontal
sam ple are show n in curve (5) in Fig. 11. Its m agnitude is o f cross sectional area o f the sample, upon the values o f a j s in
course zero at x = 0 and x = 6 since there is no com plem en­ Fig. 11. From these curves it can be seen that by making the
tary shear stress on the end faces A D and B C in Fig. 9. The normal load o f the sam e order o f m agnitude as the externally
rapidity with which t increases with distance from the ends applied shear force, the tensile zones are, in theory, reduced
o f the sam ple and its approxim ate uniformity in the middle to virtually negligible dimensions.
third o f each face should be noted. Since ax and ay both are The theoretically large values o f v for x = 0 and x = 6
zero for all values o f y when x = 3, r xtl should be constant shown in Fig. 10 are a direct consequence o f the infinite nature
on this plane. A s a check on the calculations t X!// s was evaluated o f oy at these points. However v approxim ates to zero very
for x = 3, y = 0 and was found to be 1.1111 which agreed to rapidly with increase o f distance from the ends o f the appa­
the fourth place o f decimals with the value calculated when ratus, and u at only one o f the calculated points differs from
x = 3, y = z\z I- k y by 3.5% and at all other points by less than .02%. Hence
it may be said that from theory the bulk o f the sam ple is sub­
jected to simple shear strain and from the practical point o f
D isc u ssio n o f R esu lts
view the right hand colum n o f Fig. 4 speaks for itself.
A ccording to the m athem atical solution nx and ay are in ­
finite at the corners o f the sample. This can easily be explained
by the fact that there is a slight incom patibility in the boundary
conditions im posed there. It is not physically possible to im ­ K jellm an, W .( 1951): T estin g the S hear Strength o f C lay in Sw eden. G e o ­
pose an angle o f shear k at the corners and at the sam e time technique, June, V ol. II, N o . 3, p. 225.
Terzaghi, K . and P e c k , R. B. (1948): Soil M echan ics in Engineering
require that t = 0.
Practice. W iley, p. 80.
H owever, com parison o f Fig. 6 with Fig. 11 and Fig. 12 does Tim oshenko, S . and Gooclier, J. N . (1951): T h eory o f E lasticity. M c­
show that the theory agrees with practical results from the G raw -H ill, 2nd ed ., p. xvii.


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