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1052

Evaluation of overburden stress effects on


liquefaction resistance at Duncan Dam
Ross W. Boulanger and I.M. Idriss

Abstract: The cyclic resistance of sand unit 3c at Duncan Dam in British Columbia for overburden stresses of about 2 to
12 atm (1 atm = 101.325 kPa) was evaluated previously using cyclic undrained direct simple shear (DSS) and cyclic un-
drained triaxial testing of samples obtained using frozen sampling techniques. The in situ standard penetration test (SPT)
and laboratory testing results provide a unique set of data for evaluating how the effects of effective overburden stress are
accounted for in liquefaction evaluation procedures. The present study re-examines the cyclic resistance of these sands based
on the field and laboratory test data for the unit 3c sands underlying Duncan Dam relative to the site-specific procedures de-
veloped by Pillai and Byrne and the liquefaction triggering evaluation procedures presented by Idriss and Boulanger, Youd
et al., and Cetin et al. The differences in the results and the reasons for the differences are discussed.
Key words: liquefaction, cyclic resistance ratio, standard penetration test, overburden stress, sand.
Résumé : La résistance cyclique d’une unité de sable 3c au barrage Duncan en Colombie-Britannique, pour des pressions
des terres d’environ 2 à 12 atm (1 atm = 101.325 kPa), a été évaluée au préalable à l’aide d’essais cycliques non drainés en
cisaillement simple direct (CSD) et d’essais cycliques triaxiaux non drainés sur des échantillons obtenus par des méthodes
d’échantillonnage sous gel. Les résultats in situ et de laboratoire d’essais de pénétration standard (EPS) offrent une série de
données unique pour évaluer comment les effets de la pression des terres effective sont considérés lors des procédures d’é-
valuation de la liquéfaction. La présente étude réexamine la résistance cyclique de ces sables à partir des données d’essais
sur le terrain et en laboratoire pour l’unité de sable 3c sous le barrage Duncan, comparativement aux procédures spécifiques
au site développées par Pillai et Byrne et aux procédures d’évaluation du déclenchement de la liquéfaction présentés par
Idriss et Boulanger, Youd et al., et Cetin et al. Les différences entre les résultats, ainsi que les raisons expliquant ces diffé-
rences, sont discutées.
Mots‐clés : liquéfaction, ratio de résistance cyclique, essai de pénétration standard, pression des terres, sable.
[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Introduction FC, is accommodated by adding an increment, D(N1)60, to


obtain an equivalent clean-sand (N1)60cs as follows:
The extrapolation of liquefaction triggering correlations to
large dams relies on adjustments for the effects of large effec- ½2 ðN1 Þ60cs ¼ ðN1 Þ60 þ DðN1 Þ60
tive overburden stresses (s v0 ) and initial static shear stress ra-
tios (a = ts/s v0 , where ts is the initial static shear stress) For example, D(N1)60 values in the Idriss and Boulanger
because the available standard penetration test (SPT)-based (2008) procedures are computed using the following relation-
or cone penetration test (CPT)-based liquefaction triggering ship (with FC in percent):
correlations are derived from analyses of liquefaction case "  2 #
9:7 15:7
histories involving largely level ground conditions (a = 0) ½3 DðN1 Þ60 ¼ exp 1:63 þ 
and s v0 less than about 1.5 atm (1 atm = 101.325 kPa). The FC þ :01 FC þ :01
effect of s v0 on penetration resistance is accounted for by the
overburden correction factor, CN, as (using SPT data for ex- This expression gives D(N1)60 values that increase from 0.0
ample) at FC ≤ 5% to about 5.5 at FC ≥ 35%. The effect of s v0 and
sloping ground conditions on the cyclic resistance ratio
½1 ðN1 Þ60 ¼ CN ðNÞ60 (CRR) is commonly accounted for using an overburden cor-
rection factor, Ks, and a static shear stress correction factor,
where (N1)60 is the N60 value at an equivalent sv0 of 1 atm for Ka, as introduced by Seed (1983). The CRR for a given
the same sand at the same relative density, and N60 is the earthquake moment magnitude (M), s v0 , and a is expressed as
blow count for an energy ratio of 60%. The dependence of
the liquefaction triggering correlation on the fines content, ½4 CRRM;sv0 ;a ¼ CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ¼1;a¼0 MSFKs Ka

Received 30 April 2011. Accepted 18 June 2012. Published at www.nrcresearchpress.com/cgj on 16 August 2012.
R.W. Boulanger and I.M. Idriss. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, One Shields Avenue,
Davis, CA 95616, USA.
Corresponding author: Ross W. Boulanger (e-mail: rwboulanger@ucdavis.edu).

Can. Geotech. J. 49: 1052–1058 (2012) doi:10.1139/T2012-063 Published by NRC Research Press
Boulanger and Idriss 1053

where CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ¼1;a¼0 is the value of CRR for M = 7.5, Fig. 1. Liquefaction triggering correlations used in the re-analysis of
s v0 = 1 atm, and a = 0 as obtained from case history–based the Duncan Dam data.
correlations (e.g., Fig. 1); and MSF is the magnitude scaling
factor to approximately account for variations in the duration
of shaking. Thus, the effects of s v0 are accounted for through
both the CN and Ks factors, whereas the effect of sloping
ground is accounted for by the Ka factor and the effect of
shaking duration is accounted for by the MSF factor.
The in situ SPT data and laboratory testing data for unit 3c
sands at Duncan Dam in British Columbia (Fig. 2) cover s v0
ranging from about 2 to 12 atm (Pillai and Byrne 1994; Pillai
and Stewart 1994), and thus provide a unique set of data for
evaluating how the effects of s v0 are accounted for in lique-
faction evaluation procedures. Cyclic undrained direct simple
shear (DSS) and cyclic undrained triaxial tests were per-
formed on samples obtained from the sand unit using frozen
sampling techniques (Pillai and Stewart 1994). These labora-
tory test data provide a basis for estimating CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0
values (i.e., determined for a = 0 and at a number of equiv-
alent uniform loading cycles, N, representative of M = 7.5) at clic undrained direct simple shear (DSS) tests were per-
s v0 = 2 to 12 atm. Different SPT-based liquefaction triggering formed on specimens one-dimensionally consolidated to s v0
correlations can also be used to estimate the CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 of 2, 4, and 6 atm; the CRR for a failure criterion of 4% sin-
values, with the estimate differences reflecting the underlying gle-amplitude shear strain (g) in 15 uniform loading cycles
differences in their respective CN, Ks, and CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ¼1;a¼0 was approximately 0.14, essentially independent of s v0 , as
versus (N1)60 relationships. shown in Fig. 4. Cyclic undrained triaxial tests were per-
The present study re-examines the field and laboratory test formed on specimens isotropically consolidated to s v0 of 2, 4,
data from Duncan Dam relative to the site-specific proce- 6, and 12 atm; the CRR for a failure criterion of 2.5% axial
dures developed by Pillai and Byrne (1994) and the SPT- strain (single-amplitude) in 15 uniform loading cycles was ap-
based liquefaction triggering evaluation procedures by Idriss proximately 0.16, also independent of s v0 , as shown in Fig. 4.
and Boulanger (2004, 2008), the National Center for Earth- The fact that the CRR values were independent of s v0 was
quake Engineering Research / National Science Foundation attributed by Pillai and Byrne (1994) to the increase in speci-
(NCEER/NSF) (NCEER 1997; Youd et al. 2001), and Cetin men density with increasing s v0 offsetting the normally
et al. (2004). The field and laboratory characterization of the observed decrease in CRR with increasing confining stress
sand unit at Duncan Dam is briefly reviewed. The pertinent (i.e., the Ks effect) for sand at a constant value of relative
aspects of the different liquefaction triggering evaluation pro- density (DR). The in situ DR of the sand was determined to
cedures are then reviewed, and used to calculate the variation be about 30%–35% beneath the dam toe and about 55%–
of cyclic resistance ratios with depth. The calculated resistan- 60% beneath the dam crest based on the frozen sand sample
ces are compared with those obtained from the tests on fro- test results, borehole density logging with a gamma–gamma
zen sand samples. The differences in the results and reasons density tool, and correlations with in situ penetration test
for the differences are discussed. data (Plewes et al. 1994). Consolidation tests in the labora-
tory produced increases in DR with increasing s v0 that were
Unit 3c at Duncan Dam consistent with the trends in the field measurements of in
The focus of the investigations was the loose sand strata situ density.
identified as “unit 3c” in the cross section shown in Fig. 2 The field CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ;a¼0 was estimated to be about 0.127,
(Pillai and Byrne 1994). This sand unit was geologically in- independent of s v0 (Fig. 4), by (i) multiplying the average of
terpreted as being of relatively uniform density before con- the above DSS CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values by a factor of 0.9 to
struction of the dam, and is comprised of predominantly fine account for bi-directional shaking (Seed 1979) and (ii) ac-
sand with fines contents of 5%–10% (average 7%). The rela- cepting 15 uniform loading cycles as being representative of
tively loose condition of the sand and the high s v0 imposed the equivalent loading for a M = 7.5 event. The estimated
by the dam suggest that the sand in this unit is essentially field CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ;a¼0 was based primarily on the DSS tests
normally consolidated under the dam. because they approximate field seismic loading conditions
SPT blow counts were obtained in unit 3c from different better than triaxial tests; the triaxial tests are, however, the
locations on the dam such that s v0 ranged from about 1 to basis for expecting the CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ;a¼0 values to remain in-
12 atm. An energy ratio of 43% was used for computing N60 dependent of s v0 over the full range of s v0 encountered at
values based on energy measurements during calibration tests Duncan Dam. Pillai and Byrne (1994) similarly estimated a
for the same rig and operator (Plewes et al. 1994). The N60 field CRR of 0.14 independent of s v0 , based on 10 uniform
values are plotted versus s v0 in Fig. 3a. uni-directional loading cycles in DSS; the corresponding
Cyclic tests were performed on samples obtained using value of CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 would be about 0.12 after adjusting
frozen sampling techniques in a boring near the toe of the from 10 to 15 uniform cycles (a 6% difference based on the
dam (location shown in Fig. 2) (Pillai and Byrne 1994). Cy- laboratory test data) and from uni-directional to bi-directional

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1054 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 49, 2012

Fig. 2. Typical section through Duncan Dam showing the unit 3c sand layer (after Pillai and Byrne 1994).

Fig. 3. (a) SPT N60 data and the (N1)60 values computed using the CN relationships by (b) Pillai and Byrne 1994; (c) Idriss and Boulanger
(2008); (d) Liao and Whitman (1986).

Fig. 4. Cyclic strengths versus overburden stress. shaking. The field CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 estimated by Pillai and
Byrne (1994) is slightly smaller than obtained by the re-ex-
amination herein because they used a lower range from the
DSS results, whereas an average value was used herein.

Variation of CRR with depth using SPT-based


correlations
The SPT data were used to evaluate the variation of
CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 with depth using four different SPT-based
liquefaction evaluation procedures:
1. The site-specific CN and Ks relationships by Pillai and By-
rne (1994) in combination with the Seed et al. (1985)
liquefaction triggering correlation that Pillai and Byrne
had used in deriving their relations.
2. The liquefaction evaluation procedures by Idriss and Bou-
langer (2008), which were shown by Idriss and Boulanger
(2010) and Boulanger and Idriss (2012) to correspond to
a probability of liquefaction (PL) of 16%.

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Boulanger and Idriss 1055

3. The liquefaction evaluation procedures by NCEER/NSF and 0.6 for DR of 40%, 60%, and 80%, respectively, with f
(NCEER 1997; Youd et al. 2001). Note that NCEER/ limited to being no smaller than 0.6 and no larger than 0.8.
NSF (Youd et al. 2001) adopted the triggering correla- The exponent term 1 – f can then be approximated by the
tion by Seed et al. (1985) with only slight modification linear relationship
at (N1)60 values < 4. DR
4. The liquefaction evaluation procedures by Cetin et al. ½9 1f ¼ for 0:2  ð1  f Þ  0:4
(2004) with their recommendation that deterministic ana- 2
lyses use a curve that is equal to their PL = 15% curve For the application of eq. [9], DR can be estimated from
for (N1)60cs values less than or equal to 32 and a slightly the SPT blow count as
steeper curve at greater (N1)60cs values. The (N1)60cs va- rffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
lues at Duncan Dam are well below 32; thus, the com- ðN1 Þ60cs
½10 DR ¼
parisons shown herein are computed using the Cetin et Cd
al. (2004) PL = 15% curve.
The three liquefaction triggering correlations used in these where Cd = 46 was recommended by Idriss and Boulanger
four comparisons are shown in Fig. 1. (2008) based on a review of work by Cubrinovski and Ishi-
The CN relationships used in these four comparisons are hara (1999) and others. The (N1)60 values at Duncan Dam
shown in Fig. 5a. The Liao and Whitman (1986) CN relation- are approximately 15 (slightly increasing with depth), for
which the above expressions produce an exponent of 1 – f =
ship,
0.286. Cetin et al. (2004) incorporated a very similar expo-
 0:5
Pa nent of 0.278 in their correlation, with the recommendation
½5 CN ¼ that it be replaced with the NCEER/NSF (Youd et al. 2001)
s v0
Ks relationship when s v0 is greater than 2 atm. Thus, the
is used in both the NCEER/NSF (Youd et al. 2001) and Ce- above expressions are used with both the NCEER/NSF
tin et al. (2004) procedures, where Pa is atmospheric pres- (Youd et al. 2001) procedure and the Cetin et al. procedure
sure. Youd et al. (2001) also indicated that the alternative for Duncan Dam because the data for Duncan Dam corre-
expression by Kayen et al. (1992), sponds to s v0 greater than or equal to 2 atm. The Idriss and
Boulanger (2008) Ks relationship is also DR-dependent,
2:2 which is expressed in terms of (N1)60cs as
½6 CN ¼
1:2 þ ðs v0 =Pa Þ  0
s
Ks ¼ 1  Cs ln v
could be used in routine practice. The Kayen et al. (1992) ex- Pa
pression, however, produces considerably smaller values of ½11 1
CN at large overburden stresses as shown in Fig. 5a. The CN Cs ¼ pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi  0:3
values produced by the Kayen et al. (1992) expression at 18:9  2:55 ðN1 Þ60cs
overburden stresses greater than about 4 atm are lower than
supported by available calibration chamber test data and pe- Various limits have been imposed on the maximum values
netration theories (e.g., Salgado et al. 1997). For this reason, of Ks computed using the above expressions at low s v0 ; i.e.,
the Liao and Whitman (1986) expression is used in the limits of 1.0, 1.5, and 1.1 are used by Youd et al. (2001),
NCEER/NSF (Youd et al. 2001) procedures for the analysis Cetin et al. (2004), and Idriss and Boulanger (2008), respec-
of the Duncan Dam data. The CN relationship used by Idriss tively. These limits pertain to stresses well below those cov-
and Boulanger (2008) is DR-dependent, which is expressed in ered by the Duncan Dam data examined herein.
terms of (N1)60cs as The first evaluation of the SPT data used the site-specific
 m CN and Ks relations developed by Pillai and Byrne (1994) in
Pa combination with the Seed et al. (1985) – NCEER (1997)
CN ¼
½7 s v0 liquefaction triggering correlation; the resulting (N1)60 and
pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values are summarized in Figs. 3b and 6a,
m ¼ 0:784  0:0768 ðN1 Þ60cs
respectively. The resulting (N1)60 values are shown to in-
crease slightly with increasing confining stress, consistent
Solving this expression requires iteration, such as using the
with the reported increases in DR with depth. The computed
automatic iteration option in an Excel spreadsheet. Limits of
CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values are approximately constant with in-
1.6 to 2.0 are generally imposed on the maximum values of
creasing s v0 and reasonably consistent with the
CN computed by these expressions at low effective stresses;
these limits pertain to stresses well below those covered by CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values derived from the laboratory tests.
the Duncan Dam data examined herein. Good agreement between the SPT-based and lab-based esti-
The Ks relationships used in these four comparisons are mates of cyclic strength is consistent with the fact the site-
shown in Fig. 5b. The Hynes and Olsen (1998) Ks relation- specific CN and Ks relationships were developed to be con-
sistent with the results of the laboratory tests.
ship is
The second evaluation of the SPT data used the procedures
 1f
Pa by Idriss and Boulanger (2008); the resulting (N1)60 and
½8 Ks ¼ 0 CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values are summarized in Figs. 3c and 6b,
s vc
respectively. The (N1)60 values are again seen to increase
for which Youd et al. (2001) suggested f values of 0.8, 0.7, slightly with increasing confining stress. The computed

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1056 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 49, 2012

Fig. 5. Comparison of relationships for: (a) CN and (b) Ks.

Fig. 6. Computed CRRM7.5,a = 0 values using different liquefaction triggering procedures: (a) Pillai and Byrne (1994); (b) Idriss and Boulanger
(2008); (c) NCEER/NSF (Youd et al. 2001); (d) Cetin et al. (2004).

CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values are also approximately constant with use the Liao and Whitman (1986) CN relationship. The com-
increasing confining stress and are reasonably consistent puted CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values decrease progressively with in-
with the results of the laboratory tests. creasing s v0 in the same way as the NCEER/NSF procedures
The third evaluation of the SPT data used the procedures because they use the same Ks relationship for s v0 > 1 atm.
by NCEER/NSF (Youd et al. 2001); the resulting (N1)60 and The CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values from the Cetin et al. procedure
CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values are summarized in Figs. 3d and 6c, are, however, consistently smaller than those obtained with
respectively. The (N1)60 values are again seen to increase the NCEER/NSF procedure.
slightly with increasing s v0 . However, the computed Differences in the CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ;a¼0 values obtained by
CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values begin as slightly lower than the labo- these four procedures when s v0 is nearest 1 atm are directly
ratory test results at s v0 ≈ 2 atm and become increasingly related to the differences in their respective triggering corre-
smaller than the laboratory test results as the s v0 increases. lations, as shown in Fig. 1. The first three procedures pro-
The fourth evaluation of the SPT data used the procedures duce similar CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ;a¼0 values because their triggering
by Cetin et al. (2004); the resulting (N1)60 and correlations are similar, whereas the Cetin et al. (2004) pro-
CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 values are summarized in Figs. 3d and 6d, cedure produced lower CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ;a¼0 values because their
respectively. The (N1)60 values are the same as for the triggering correlation is lower. Issues regarding the differen-
NCEER/NSF (Youd et al. 2001) procedures because both ces in the baseline triggering correlations are discussed in

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Boulanger and Idriss 1057

Idriss and Boulanger (2010, 2012). Regardless of these is- The fact that the NCEER/NSF (Youd et al. 2001) procedures
sues, the relative agreement between a probabilistic triggering predict a trend of CRRM¼7:5;s v0 ;a¼0 progressively decreasing
correlation and the laboratory-derived strengths depends on with increasing depth is primarily attributed to their use of a
the adjustment factors used to convert the lab strengths to steeper Ks relationship, although it is noted that differences
field strengths and on the choice of PL for the liquefaction in CN relationships can also play a strong role for sands that
triggering correlations. For example, the CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0 are denser than encountered at Duncan Dam. The Cetin et al.
values would increase by 14% and 23% for the Idriss and (2004) procedures predict the same trend of CRRM¼7:5;sv0 ;a¼0
Boulanger (2008) and Cetin et al. (2004) procedures, respec- progressively decreasing with increasing depth because they
tively, if they were computed for PL = 50%. In fact, the labo- use the same CN and Ks relationships (for the range of over-
ratory-derived strengths for s v0 near 1 atm for this site burden stresses encountered at Duncan Dam) as in the Youd
reasonably fall within plus or minus one standard deviation et al. (2001) procedures.
from these probabilistic triggering correlations. This result is
consistent with the observation that liquefaction triggering References
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