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Confining stress and static shear effects in cyclic

Y.P. Vaid, J.D. Stedman, and S. Sivathayalan

Abstract: Liquefaction resistance of a sand under cyclic loading is assessed and the effects of the levels of confining
pressure and static shear on resistance to liquefaction are investigated. Site-specific values of the resistance under speci-
fied levels of confining and static shear stresses are measured in the laboratory. The measured values are compared
with those which would be predicted by the application of empirical multiplying factors Kσ and Kα to the reference re-
sistance at 100 kPa effective confining stress with no static shear. It is shown that Kσ and Kα are not independent, as
assumed in current practice. The combined factor Kσ × Kα resulting from the empirical method is shown to underesti-
mate the cyclic resistance ratio regardless of the initial density and confining and static shear levels. The degree of
conservatism is most dramatic at looser density states.

Key words: sand, liquefaction, static, cyclic, static shear, confining stress.

Résumé : On évalue la résistance à la liquéfaction d’un sable sous un chargement cyclique et on étudie les effets des
niveaux de la pression de confinement et du cisaillement statique sur la résistance à la liquéfaction. On mesure en la-
boratoire des valeurs de résistance spécifiques au site à des niveaux spécifiés de contraintes de confinement et de cisail-
lement statique. Les valeurs mesurées sont comparées à celles qui seraient prédites par l’application des facteurs
multiplicatifs empiriques Kσ et Kα à la résistance de référence sous une contrainte de confinement de 100 kPa et sans
cisaillement statique. On montre que Kσ et Kα ne sont pas indépendants, comme on le suppose dans la pratique cou-
rante. On montre que le facteur combiné Kσ × Kα découlant de la méthode empirique sous-estime le rapport de résis-
tance cyclique, quels que soient la densité initiale et les niveaux de confinement et de cisaillement statique. Le degré
de conservatisme est des plus dramatiques à des états de densité plus meubles.

Mots clés : sable, liquéfaction, statique et cyclique, cisaillement statique, contrainte de confinement.

[Traduit par la Rédaction] Vaid et al. 591

Introduction The cyclic resistance ratio, CRR, of a sand is normally ex-

pressed as the cyclic stress ratio amplitude (σd,cyc /2σ 3c ′ in
Most of our fundamental understanding of the liquefaction triaxial shear and τ cyc /σ vc
′ in simple shear, where σd,cyc is the
phenomena in sands has been derived from controlled labo- cyclic deviator stress, σ 3c ′ is the effective minor principal
ratory studies. These studies have revealed that relative den- stress at the end of consolidation, τ cyc is the cyclic shear
sity, confining pressure, and static shear stress are the major stress amplitude, and σ vc ′ is the vertical effective stress at the
initial state variables that influence the cyclic resistance of end of consolidation) that causes a specified level of strain in
sands. Even in large projects, site-specific assessment of the a specified number of cycles. The CRR of the sand at
effects of confining pressure and static shear on cyclic resis- 100 kPa effective confining stress with no static shear, de-
tance is rarely made. Cyclic resistance is usually determined noted by (CRR)100,0, is often considered the reference cyclic
in the laboratory at a single value of the effective confining resistance. This reference stress state in a cyclic triaxial test
stress with no initial static shear. This is then modified by is characterized by an isotropic consolidation stress, σ nc ′ =
empirical multiplying factors Kσ and Kα (Seed and Harder σ1c′ = σ 3c
′ = 100 kPa, where σ nc ′ is the normal effective stress
1990). The factors Kσ and Kα are based on a very limited da- on the plane of maximum shear stress and σ1c′ is the effec-
tabase from laboratory investigations of the influence of tive major principal stress. In cyclic simple shear this state is
confining pressure and static shear on a few sands. There- characterized by a vertical effective confining stress σ nc ′ =
fore, the level of confidence in their universal application σ vc
′ = 100 kPa and static shear τ st = 0 on the horizontal
cannot be very high. plane.

Received October 1, 1999. Accepted November 6, 2000. Published on the NRC Research Press Web site on May 17, 2001.
Y.P. Vaid, J.D. Stedman,1 and S. Sivathayalan.2 Department of Civil Engineering, University of British Columbia, 2324 Main
Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.
Present address: Department of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering, Kobe University, 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe,
657-8501, Japan.
Corresponding author (e-mail: siva_sivathayalan@carleton.ca). Present address: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada.

Can. Geotech. J. 38: 580–591 (2001) DOI: 10.1139/cgj-38-3-580 © 2001 NRC Canada

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Vaid et al. 581

The cyclic resistance of the sand at an arbitrary effective Vaid and Chern (1985) have clearly demonstrated that the
confining stress σ ′ and static shear τ st, (CRR)σ ′, α , is then cyclic resistance can either increase or decrease depending
obtained by on the confining stress level and density. They further
showed that at a given density the cyclic resistance depends
[1] (CRR)σ′,α = (CRR)100,0KσKα on the confining and static shear stress levels. Seed and
where α is a measure of the level of initial static shear stress Harder (1990) reported similar findings in 1990, confirming
and is defined by normalizing the maximum shear stress by that the CRR can either increase or decrease with increasing
the normal effective stress acting on the plane of maximum static shear depending on relative density and static shear
shear stress. Thus, stress level. However, Seed and Harder did not consider the
effects of confining stress level at a given level of static
τst shear stress ratio and the mechanism that was responsible for
α= in simple shear
σ vc
′ strain development, which may influence CRR.
[2] In current practice, the influence of confining stress and
σ1c′ − σ 3c
′ static shear on liquefaction resistance is accounted for by se-
α= in triaxial shear
σ1c′ + σ 3c
′ quentially applying the correction factors Kσ and Kα from
Seed and Harder (1990) to the known cyclic resistance at
Seed and Harder (1990) summarized laboratory test results 100 kPa confining stress with no static shear, as noted in
on reconstituted moist tamped and pluviated specimens and eq. [1]. Even though it is not explicitly stated, such sequential
undisturbed fixed piston samples performed by various re- application of these correction factors implies that the influ-
searchers. Based on the measured cyclic resistance over a ence of confining stress and static shear stress levels are inde-
range of confining stresses, they suggested an empirical cor- pendent of each other. The undrained behaviour of sands,
rection factor Kσ, which was dependent only on the level of however, depends collectively on all initial state variables
confining stress. However, the data compiled by Seed and such as relative density after consolidation Drc, effective con-
Harder show a very large scatter in the cyclic resistance of a fining stress σ nc′ , and static shear stress τst (Vaid and Chern
sand at a given confining stress. This scatter apparently indi- 1985). Such a collective dependency implies that any attempts
cates the dependency of Kσ on factors other than confining to characterize the response using only one of these variables
stress alone. are not rational. Current practical methods that specify Kσ de-
The dependence of Kσ on the relative density of sand in pendent only on the confining stress level or Kα dependent
addition to the confining stress has been identified by Vaid only on the relative density amount to oversimplification. This
and Thomas (1995) from cyclic triaxial tests. Cyclic simple is because relative density is not an independent state vari-
shear tests also have revealed similar dependency of Kσ on able; but rather it is intimately linked to the applied confining
relative density (Vaid et al. 1985). These studies indicate that and static shear stresses (Vaid and Sivathayalan 1998).
Kσ is close to 1 for the most liquefaction prone loose sand This paper is an attempt to investigate whether Kσ and Kα
but can be significantly smaller than 1 for dense states. Both can be sequentially superimposed as is done in the current
cyclic simple shear and cyclic triaxial tests yield similar val- practice. A comprehensive study of static and cyclic triaxial
ues of Kσ for loose sands. However, cyclic triaxial test con- behaviour of a deltaic sand was undertaken to accomplish
ditions appear to overestimate Kσ at higher density states this objective. The effect of each initial state variable (Drc,
compared with the Kσ measured under cyclic simple shear ′ , and α) is assessed independently by varying only one of
σ nc
stress conditions (Vaid and Sivathayalan 1996a). these parameters while the others are held constant. Thus
Studies by Lee and Seed (1967), Lee et al. (1975), Seed et CRR values under site-specific Drc, σ nc ′ , and α conditions are
al. (1975), and Seed (1983) conclude that the presence of directly determined. These measured CRR values are then
static shear increases the cyclic resistance to liquefaction. compared with those suggested by the current empirical
Castro (1969, 1975), Casagrande (1975), Castro and Poulos practice, using the Kσ and Kα multiplying factors sequen-
(1977), and Castro et al. (1982), however, arrived at the con- tially, and the situations where such extrapolations should
clusion that an increase in static shear stress may decrease not be used are pointed out. Considering that the sand be-
the cyclic resistance of sand to liquefaction. haviour at a given density state is profoundly affected by the
Vaid and Finn (1978) and Vaid and Chern (1983, 1985) level of confining stress and for a given confining stress by
showed that without reference to the initial density and con- the level of static shear, the use of Kσ and Kα as independent
fining stress level, the dependence of cyclic resistance on factors may not be completely sound.
static shear stress alone was not rational. Contradictions in The simulation of initial static shear stress in the triaxial
conclusions derived from the past studies were explained by test is achieved by consolidation under nonhydrostatic
systematic laboratory investigation programs, in which ini- stresses σ1c′ σ 3c ′ , in contrast to the hydrostatic σ1c′ = σ 3c′.
tial confining stress, static shear stress, cyclic shear stress, The measure of initial confining stress under this condition
and density were controlled. These studies demonstrate that must, somehow, consider the influence of both σ1c′ and σ 3c ′.
the influence of static shear on the cyclic resistance of a The magnitude of the normal effective stress on the 45°
given sand depends on the density, confining and static shear plane (the plane of maximum shear stress) would be taken as
stress levels, and the mechanism of strain development that an appropriate measure of initial confinement, σ nc ′ . This is
causes liquefaction. The cyclic resistance increased with an consistent with conditions under simple shear, where the
increase in static shear if liquefaction was induced by cyclic measure of initial confinement, the vertical effective stress
mobility, but it decreased with an increase in static shear if σ vc
′ acts on the plane of maximum shear stress at failure
strain softening was the cause behind liquefaction. (Roscoe 1970).

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582 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 38, 2001

Experimental work Fig. 1. Behaviour of loosest deposited Fraser River sand in

(a) monotonic triaxial compression loading, and (b) monotonic
Sand dredged from the Fraser River was used in this triaxial extension loading.
study. This sand underlies large portions of the heavily
populated Fraser delta in British Columbia, Canada, and
hence forms the strata of interest for liquefaction susceptibil-
ity. Deltaic deposits like these are typical of many heavily
populated regions of the world.
The batch of sand used had an average particle size D50 =
0.30 mm, uniformity coefficient Cu = 1.8, and maximum and
minimum index void ratios emax = 0.926 and emin = 0.605,
respectively, according to American Society for Testing and
Materials (ASTM) standards 4252 and 4253. Fraser River
sand is comprised of 40% quartz, quartzite, and chert, 11%
feldspar, and 45% unstable rock fragments (Garrison et al.
1969). The grains are angular to subrounded.
Triaxial test specimens of about 63 mm diameter and
125 mm height were reconstituted by water pluviation as
recommended in Vaid and Negussey (1988). This reconsti-
tuting technique yields uniform repeatable specimens, which
are critical requirements for confident measurement of the
element behaviour. Specimens pluviated in water have been
shown to mimic the behaviour of natural fluvial and hydrau-
lic-fill sands, under both static and cyclic loading (Vaid and
Sivathayalan 1998). Thus, the results of this study are ex-
pected to be applicable to alluvial and hydraulically placed
in situ sand masses.
Non-hydrostatic consolidation of the specimens was car-
ried out along the desired Kc = σ1c′ /σ 3c ′ path to the target
σ nc
′ , where Kc is the effective stress ratio at the end of con-
solidation, following the initial hydrostatic confinement of
20 kPa during specimen formation. The void ratio of the
specimens was confidently determined using the volume of
the cavity and mass of the solids as recommended by Vaid
and Sivathayalan (1996b). Cyclic loads were applied by an
electropneumatic transducer, and the data recorded using a
high-resolution A/D card at a rate of about 48 data points
per cycle. This was intended to examine within loading cy-
cles the mechanism that caused the specified level of strain
deemed to constitute liquefaction. Stresses were measured
with resolutions of better than 0.2 kPa and strains with reso-
lutions of better than 10–5. A detailed description of the ap-
paratus and the data-acquisition techniques is given in
Stedman (1997).

Test results and interpretations

Static undrained behaviour

The loosest attainable initial relative density, Dri, of the
Fraser River sand after deposition by water pluviation and a
vertical confinement of about 1 kPa was about 6–8%. Its
static behaviour following this loosest deposition was inves- pluviation, at corresponding confining stress levels (Vaid
tigated under both triaxial compression and extension modes and Sivathayalan 1998).
of deformation. After consolidation to the desired stress lev- The static undrained behaviour of the loosest deposited
els, the loosest density states attainable were 17, 20, and sand is illustrated in Fig. 1. Magnitudes of the confining
24% at confining stress levels of 100, 200, and 400 kPa, re- stress σ nc
′ and static shear as reflected by Kc (= σ1c′ /σ 3c ′)
spectively. Recent studies on undisturbed sand specimens of prior to undrained loading are indicated for each stress–
Fraser delta sands, retrieved by in situ ground freezing, indi- strain curve. The behaviour was investigated at three
cate that the loosest in situ sand void ratios are within the different levels of σ nc
′ (100, 200, and 400 kPa) and for each
same range as those obtained on reconstitution by water level at four different levels of Kc (1, 1.25, 1.5, and 2.0).
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Vaid et al. 583

Fig. 2. Effective stress states at (a) triggering of strain-softening in a strain-softening manner over a range of deposition void
deformation in compression and extension, and (b) minimum un- ratios denser than the loosest state.
drained strength (QSS/SS) of strain-softening sand in compres- These contrasting differences between compression and
sion and extension. extension undrained response of sands have been reported
by several researchers (e.g., Bishop 1971; Vaid et al. 1990,
1995; Riemer and Seed 1997). They have been attributed to
the presence of inherent anisotropy in water-deposited sands
(Arthur and Menzies 1972; Oda et al. 1978).
The locus of the effective stress states at peaks of the
strain-softening response may be noted to lie on straight
lines passing through the origin for each loading mode (Fig. 2).
This implies that strain softening, in a given loading mode,
is triggered at a constant value of effective stress ratio,
termed herein the critical stress ratio (CSR), corresponding
to a mobilized friction angle φCSR. The critical stress ratio,
however, is dependent on the loading mode. In compression,
φCSR is about 26°, independent of the initial state, but is sub-
stantially smaller at about 17° in extension. Unlike compres-
sion, in extension it further depends on the deposition void
ratio (17° for the loosest state and increasing to about 23°
for Dri ≈ 50%). There are important implications of these
different φCSR values in the two loading modes which will be
discussed later in the paper.
Figure 2b illustrates the effective stress states corresponding
to steady state, quasi steady state (in strain-softening speci-
mens), and to phase transformation (PT) in dilative specimens,
both in compression and extension tests. The locus of these
states is a unique straight line passing through the origin, re-
gardless of the loading mode or the type of deformation. Such
uniqueness of the friction angle at SS, QSS, or PT has been reported
by several researchers (Vaid and Chern 1985; Vaid et al. 1990).

Cyclic loading behaviour

The cyclic resistance of the sand was also assessed at
three levels of confining stress, namely σ nc ′ = 100, 200, and
400 kPa, and for each confining stress level at Kc = 1.00,
1.25, 1.50, and 2.00. This corresponds to α values of 0.0,
0.11, 0.20, and 0.33 as defined by eq. [2]. The intention of
the study was to isolate the effects of static shear stress from
those of confining stress and hence examine the possible
linkage between Kσ and Kα. The occurrence of a 2.5% sin-
gle-amplitude axial strain is deemed herein to constitute liq-
uefaction (National Research Council 1985).
Depending upon the initial void ratio and effective stress
state of the sand, together with the amplitude of cyclic shear
stress τ cyc (= σd,cyc /2), the deformation causing liquefaction oc-
curred by four distinctly different mechanisms. Deformation
due to strain softening in compression, as illustrated in Fig. 3a
It may be noted in Fig. 1 that even at the loosest accessi- was the cause of liquefaction in loose sands with no cyclic
ble densities, the sand is only slightly strain softening (of the shear stress reversal. However, when there was significant cy-
limited liquefaction type) in static compression over the range clic shear stress reversal, deformation due to strain softening in
of stress levels considered. A slight increase in the degree extension was the cause of liquefaction in loose sands, as
of strain softening may be seen with an increase in Kc at shown in Fig. 3b.
constant σ nc
′ , or an increase in σ nc
′ at constant Kc, despite the Deformation due to cyclic mobility was the cause of liq-
associated increase in density. The extension response, in uefaction at denser states. Cyclic mobility is associated with
contrast, is very strain softening of the steady state (SS) type excursions through transient states of zero effective stress,
at lower σ nc′ levels, but transforms into limited liquefaction when there is stress reversal, as shown in Fig. 3c. Figure 3d
or the quasi steady state (QSS) type as σ nc ′ increases. illustrates deformation due to cyclic mobility, but without
At deposition void ratios denser than the loosest state, transient states of zero effective stress states. This
compression response was strain hardening, regardless of Kc mechanism was the cause of deformation when dense sands
and σ nc
′ levels. In extension, however, the sand still responded are subjected to cyclic shear, but without stress reversal.
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584 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 38, 2001

Fig. 3. Liquefaction due to (a) contractive deformation in compression during cyclic loading, (b) contractive deformation in extension
during cyclic loading, (c) cyclic mobility with transient states of zero effective stress during cyclic loading, and (d) cyclic mobility
without transient states of zero effective stress during cyclic loading.

Features common to both static and cyclic deformation in a given loading mode, the stress ratio at
response which strain-softening deformation is triggered in cyclic
loading is essentially identical to that observed under static
Several features of the undrained response are common to loading. This equality applies to both compression and
both static and cyclic behaviour. At a given density and for extension modes of loading. Even though the mobilized

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Vaid et al. 585

Fig. 4. (a) Equivalence of the mobilized friction angles at

QSS/SS (minimum undrained strength) in static and cyclic load-
ing; (b) dependence of minimum undrained strength on void ra-
tio in triaxial compression; and (c) dependence of minimum
undrained strength on void ratio in triaxial extension.

friction angle, φCSR, was dependent on the mode of deforma-

tion, and on the deposition void ratio, if deformation occurs
in the extension mode, it does not depend on whether strain
softening is resulting from static loading or cyclic loading.
The effective stress states corresponding to the minimum
undrained strength (SS or QSS) are shown in Fig. 4a. The
friction angle φQSS/SS mobilized at the minimum undrained
strength during cyclic loading is equal to that observed un-
der static loading, both in compression and extension modes
of deformation. This angle appears to be a unique property
of the material, independent of either the initial state or the
mode of loading. This has been demonstrated in earlier stud-
ies on Fraser River sand (Vaid and Thomas 1995) and other
sands (Vaid and Chern 1985; Vaid et al. 1990).
The undrained shear strength SQSS/SS mobilized at QSS or
SS when deformation occurred due to strain softening in
compression during either static or cyclic loading is shown
in Fig. 4b as a function of void ratio at the end of consolida-
tion ec and confining stress σ nc′ . Similar data under triaxial
extension are shown in Fig. 4c. For a given confining stress
and relative density, SQSS/SS is seen to be independent of the
manner of undrained loading, whether static or cyclic. It
should also be noted that SQSS/SS is not only a function of ec
but also of the magnitude of σ nc ′ , and for a given ec and σ nc

the value of SQSS/SS in extension is much smaller than that in
compression. The differences are greatest for the loosest ini-
tial states at which SQSS/SS in extension is only about one-
fifth of that in compression. This clearly illustrates that there
is no unique relationship between the minimum undrained
strength and void ratio for a sand, even though there exists a
unique relationship in the effective stress space. Several
other sands also exhibit similar characteristics (Vaid et al.
1990; Vaid and Thomas 1995; Riemer and Seed 1997).

Cyclic resistance
Figure 5 shows typical cyclic resistance data at σ nc ′ =
100 kPa and Kc = 1.25 in the form of ec versus the number
of cycles to liquefaction, N. Each contour in Fig. 5 was gen-
erated by running a series of tests on samples with different
relative densities but maintaining a constant cyclic stress
amplitude, σd,cyc /(2σ 3c
′ ). The mechanism of strain develop-
ment leading to liquefaction in each test is also identified. If
strain softening was responsible for causing liquefaction, it
is labelled CC for compression and CE for extension. Ab-
sence of such a label implies strain development due only to
cyclic mobility with or without transient states of σ 3′ = 0
during each loading cycle. Whether there were excursions
through transient states of zero effective stress can be in-
ferred from the relative values of cyclic shear stress and the
initial static shear stress.
Contours similar to those in Fig. 5 at σ nc
′ = 100 kPa, but
at other Kc values of 1.00, 1.50, and 2.00, were also deter-
mined. Tests similar to those at σ nc′ = 100 kPa were then
performed at the higher values of σ nc′ = 200 and 400 kPa at

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586 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 38, 2001

Fig. 5. Cyclic resistance curves: ec versus N for Fraser River Fig. 6. Cyclic resistance ratio CRR versus relative density Drc
sand at σ nc
′ = 100 kPa and Kc = 1.25. for Fraser River sand at σ nc
′ = 100 kPa.

different levels of α. These test results enable independent

assessment of the influence of confining stress level and
static shear on cyclic resistance.
The test results demonstrate that deformation due to the Fig. 7. Cyclic resistance ratio CRR versus relative density Drc
occurrence of strain softening was the cause of liquefaction for Fraser River sand at σ nc
′ = 200 kPa.
during cyclic loading if, for the selected initial state and cy-
clic stress level, τ cyc, the following conditions are simulta-
neously satisfied: (i) the sand is strain softening under static
loading, (ii) the maximum shear stress amplitude (τ cyc + τ st)
exceeds its minimum undrained strength (SQSS/SS) in com-
pression or extension, and (iii) the number of uniform stress
cycles imposed is large enough to translate the effective
stress state in the specimen to the CSR line in compression
or extension on account of the progressive increase in excess
pore pressure with each loading cycle.
These requirements were first recognized and experimen-
tally demonstrated by Vaid et al. (1989) for another sand. If
any one of the conditions stated above was not satisfied, then
the sand does not strain soften, and liquefaction develops on
account of cyclic mobility, associated with or without tran-
sient states of zero effective stress. Shear stress reversal is a
necessary condition for the occurrence of transient states of
zero effective stress.
Relative density (or void ratio) versus cyclic stress to
cause liquefaction in a specified number of cycles (10 cycles
selected herein) can be picked up from each contour in
Fig. 5 to yield the desired relationship between cyclic resis-
tance and relative density at the chosen σ nc ′ = 100 kPa and
Kc = 1.25. Similar relationships are determined at σ nc ′ =
100 kPa and other Kc values. The cyclic resistance of Fraser
River sand at σ nc ′ = 100 kPa to cause liquefaction in 10 The minimum Drc accessible to the sand in the loosest de-
stress cycles at several levels of Kc or α is plotted in Fig. 6. posited state and after the application of the range of confin-
Data similar to those in Fig. 6 at higher σ nc ′ = 200 and ing and static shear stresses considered was about 25%.
400 kPa are shown in Figs. 7 and 8. Figures 6–8 completely Thus the effects of static shear and confining stress levels on
describe the dependency of cyclic resistance on both confin- cyclic resistance are only compared for Drc ≥ 25%.
ing and static shear stress levels, in addition to its depend- At any confining stress level the CRR versus Drc relation-
ency on relative density. ship may be seen to be profoundly influenced by the level of

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Vaid et al. 587

Fig. 8. Cyclic resistance CRR versus relative density Drc for Fra- Fig. 9. Dependence of cyclic resistance on (a) confining stress
ser River sand at σ nc
′ = 400 kPa. and empirical Kσ values, and (b) relative density at a given con-
fining stress.

static shear (Figs. 6–8). For instance, under σ nc ′ = 100 kPa

(Fig. 6) an increase in CRR with static shear for a given Drc
appears to occur only for Drc in excess of about 30%. At
states looser than this, the resistance increases with an in-
crease in α over the α = 0 value and reaches a maximum at
the smaller α level of 0.11. The cyclic resistance decreases
with further increase in α, and at α = 0.33 it, in fact, be-
comes even smaller than that at α = 0. A careful examination
of the mechanism of strain development reveals that Drc ≈
30% is the upper limit of density below which strain soften-
ing is the cause of liquefaction. This mechanism changes to
cyclic mobility at Drc in excess of about 30%. At a given
confining and static shear stress level, further increase in
static shear will increase cyclic resistance, only if the mech-
anism of strain development stays as cyclic mobility (Vaid
and Chern 1985). The cyclic resistance will decrease if this
mechanism changes instead to strain softening. Similarly, at
a given σ nc
′ , cyclic resistance will increase with a further in-
crease in α, if the strain development changes from strain
softening to cyclic mobility.
The effects of α at higher σ ′ = 200 and 400 kPa (Figs. 7, 8)
are essentially similar, except that the cutoff Drc level be-
yond which the cyclic resistance always increases with an
increase in α is higher at about 45% for σ nc ′ = 200 kPa of relative densities. A definite dependency of Kσ on relative
(Fig. 7) and about 50% for σ nc ′ = 400 kPa (Fig. 8). Again at density, in addition to that on the confining stress, is appar-
density states lower than these cutoff values the cyclic resis- ent from the data in Fig. 9a. The data in Figs. 6–8 for α = 0
tance is larger with α 0 than with α = 0, except for the high- are plotted in Fig. 9b to clearly illustrate the dependency of
est α used, when it falls below the α = 0 value. Kσ on relative density. The empirical correction factors sug-
Figure 9a shows the Kσ data compiled by Seed and gested by Seed and Harder (1990) at confining stress levels
Harder (1990) together with the suggested empirical correla- of 200 and 400 kPa are also superimposed in Fig. 9b. Kσ is
tion of Kσ with confining stress. Also superimposed in Fig. 9 close to unity at both stress levels for the loose sand and de-
are the measured Kσ values in cyclic triaxial tests on three creases with an increase in density. This figure clearly illus-
hydrostatically consolidated sands (Vaid and Thomas 1995) trates that Kσ is highly dependent on the relative density, at
and cyclic simple shear tests (Vaid et al. 1985) over a range a given confining stress. These results are consistent with

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588 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 38, 2001

Fig. 10. Kα versus α for Fraser River sand at different density Fig. 12. Kασ versus α for Fraser River sand at different density
states at σ nc
′ = 100 kPa. states at σ nc
′ = 400 kPa.

Fig. 11. Kασ versus α for Fraser River sand at different density Fig. 13. Measured versus predicted cyclic resistance ratio at a
states at σ nc
′ = 200 kPa. fixed α = 0.11 level.

the earlier findings of Vaid et al. (1985), Vaid and Thomas tionships from the data compiled by Seed and Harder
(1995), and Vaid and Sivathayalan (1996a). (1990). The Seed and Harder data in Figs. 11 and 12 have
The results in Figs. 6–8 are now cross-plotted in Figs. 10– been suitably adjusted by the appropriate Kσ factors relevant
12 to obtain a single site-specific correction factor, termed to the confining stress levels in question to yield the com-
Kασ herein, that would empirically relate the reference bined empirical correction factors.
(CRR)σ ′ = 100, α = 0 to (CRR)σ ′,α for the effects of the levels of For the sand tested, the combined correction for confining
static shear and confining pressure. The results are plotted as stress and static shear levels, using sequential application of
Kασ versus α at selected constant values of relative densities, Seed and Harder (1990) empirical correction factors, grossly
loose to dense. Since σ nc ′ = 100 kPa (i.e., Kσ = 1) in Fig. 10, underestimates the actual cyclic resistance at all relative den-
the combined correction factor Kασ degenerates to merely sity states. The degree of conservatism increases as the
Kα. Also superimposed in Figs. 10–12 are the derived rela- initial density gets looser. For example, for the loose sand

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Vaid et al. 589

Fig. 14. Measured versus predicted cyclic resistance ratio at a Fig. 15. Measured versus predicted cyclic resistance ratio at a
fixed α = 0.20 level. fixed α = 0.33 level.

Relationships similar to those in Fig. 13 but at higher α

(Drc ≈ 35%), the observed Kα is greater than 1 at about 1.75, levels are shown in Figs. 14 and 15, and again regardless of
compared with the suggested value of less than 1 at about the Drc level, the measured values of CRR are substantially
0.5 for high levels of Kc. higher than those estimated by the currently suggested cor-
The measured Kα is less than 1 only for the loosest acces- rection factors for modifying (CRR)100,0.
sible density states, when α is greater than about 0.25, as op-
posed to the suggested drop off below 1 at α in excess of Conclusions
about 0.08. At Drc greater than about 50%, the measured val-
ues of Kα are comparable with those proposed by Seed and The static undrained compression response of the Fraser
Harder (1990) regardless of the α level at this confining River sand was slightly contractive (strain softening) but
stress level. only at the loosest deposition density. Increasing static shear
The Kασ factor at σ nc′ = 200 kPa (Fig. 11) increases with stress at constant confining pressure increased the degree of
increasing α up to about α = 0.11. With a further increase in contractivness, as did increasing the confining stress at a
α from 0.11, Kασ decreases only at the loosest state of Drc = constant level of static shear. The static extension unloading
25%. The α level at which this decrease occurs gets delayed response was contractive over a much greater range of densi-
as Drc increases to about 40%. Nevertheless, the measured ties than in compression for a given initial stress state.
values of Kασ are invariably higher than those proposed by The minimum undrained shear strength (SQSS/SS) at quasi
Seed and Harder (1990), regardless of the α level. At Drc in steady state or steady state of the sand is not a unique func-
excess of about 50%, the predicted values using correction tion of its consolidated density as often believed. In addition
factors of Seed and Harder are not as conservative as they to void ratio/relative density, effective confining stress level
are for the looser sands. Similar comments may be applied and mode of loading also influence the minimum undrained
to the behaviour at the higher σ nc ′ = 400 kPa (Fig. 12). Un- strength. There is a marked reduction in strength in exten-
der no circumstances is the measured Kασ factor smaller sion to about half the compression values at higher densities
than the proposed correction factors of Seed and Harder, re- and with a further reduction to just a fraction of those values
gardless of the α level. at the lowest density states. The range of void ratios exhibit-
A direct comparison of the measured and predicted cyclic ing contractive behaviour is much larger in extension than in
resistance based on the method of Seed and Harder (1990) is compression. In each loading mode, the response with re-
illustrated in Fig. 13. The shaded regions are drawn by ap- gard to SQSS/SS, φCSR, and φQSS/SS is independent of the man-
plying the Seed and Harder correction factors Kσ and Kα se- ner of loading, static or cyclic.
quentially to the measured data at σ nc ′ = 100 kPa and α = 0. In cyclic loading the effect of increasing confining stress
For the fixed α = 0.11, the measured resistance at σ nc ′ = at a given static shear generally decreased the resistance to
400 kPa is significantly greater than the predicted resistance, liquefaction. However, at the loosest states the increase in
regardless of the Drc level. The discrepancy is largest at confining stress had little effect. The increase in the static
looser density states, which in fact are most prone to lique- shear stress at a given confining stress initially increased the
faction. The overprediction becomes somewhat smaller, as at cyclic resistance at low static shear levels, but a further in-
lower σ nc′ , and at denser states (Drc 60%) the measured and crease in static shear decreased it for the loosest state. The
suggested factors are reasonably close. rate of increase in the resistance to liquefaction as a function

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590 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 38, 2001

of relative density was much higher for the higher levels of Roscoe, K.H. 1970. The influence of strains in soil mechanics.
static shear stresses. 10th Rankine Lecture. Géotechnique, 20(2): 129–170.
The combined correction factor Kασ implied by the di- Seed, H.B. 1983. Earthquake resistant design of earth dams. In
rectly measured site-specific cyclic resistance is grossly un- Proceedings of the Symposium on Seismic Design of Embank-
derestimated for the sand tested, if computed using the Seed ments and Caverns, American Society of Civil Engineers, Phila-
and Harder (1990) empirical correction factors Kα and Kσ. delphia, Pa., pp. 41–64.
This occurs at all relative density states, regardless of the Seed, R.B., and Harder, L.F. 1990. SPT-based analysis of cyclic
confining stress and static shear stress levels. The degree of pore pressure generation and undrained residual strength. In
Proceedings of the Seed Memorial Symposium. Edited by J.M.
conservatism implied by the current empirical methods of
Duncan. BiTech Publishers, Vancouver, B.C. pp. 351–376.
accounting for the effects of confining and static shear stresses
Seed, H.B., Mori, K., and Chan, C.K. 1975. Influences of seismic
on cyclic resistance seems too high, and is most pronounced
history on the liquefaction characteristics of sands. Report
for loose density states that are most prone to liquefaction. EERC 75-25, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, Univer-
sity of California, Berkeley, Calif.
Acknowledgements Stedman, J.D. 1997. Effects of confining pressure and static shear
on liquefaction resistance of Fraser River sand. M.A.Sc. thesis,
This research was supported by a grant from the Natural University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Vaid, Y.P., and Chern, J.C. 1983. Effect of static shear on resis-
Technical assistance of Harald Schremp, Scott Jackson, and tance to liquefaction. Soils and Foundations, 23(1): 47–60.
John Wong of the Department of Civil Engineering work- Vaid, Y.P., and Chern, J.C. 1985. Cyclic and monotonic undrained
shop, University of British Columbia, is gratefully acknowl- response of sands. In Advances in the Art of Testing Soils Un-
edged. Kelly Lamb prepared the manuscript. der Cyclic Loading Conditions, Proceedings of the ASCE Con-
vention, Detroit, pp. 171–176.
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potential. Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division,
Arthur, J.R.F., and Menzies, B.K. 1972. Inherent anisotropy in a ASCE, 105(GT10): 1233–1246.
sand. Géotechnique, 22(1): 115–128. Vaid, Y.P., and Negussey, D. 1988. Preparation of reconstituted
Bishop, A.W. 1971. Shear strength parameters for undisturbed and sand specimens. In Advanced triaxial testing of soils and rocks.
remoulded soil specimens. In Proceedings of the Roscoe Memorial Edited by R.T. Donaghe, R.C. Chaney, and M.L. Silver. Ameri-
Symposium, Cambridge University, Cambridge, U.K., pp. 3–58. can Society for Testing and Materials, Special Technical Publi-
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Buenos Aires, Vol. 5, pp. 79–123 tests. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 33: 281–289.
Castro, G. 1969. Liquefaction of sands. Ph.D. thesis, Harvard Uni- Vaid, Y.P., and Sivathayalan, S. 1996b. Errors in estimates of void
versity, Cambridge, Mass. ratio of laboratory sand specimens. Canadian Geotechnical Jour-
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sands. Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, ASCE, Vaid, Y.P., and Sivathayalan, S. 1998. Fundamental factors affect-
101(GT6): 551–569. ing liquefaction susceptibility of sand. In Proceedings of the In-
Castro, G., and Poulos, S.J. 1977. Factors affecting liquefaction ternational Workshop on the Physics and Mechanics of Soil
and cyclic mobility. Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Di- Liquefaction. Edited by P.V. Lade and J.A. Yamamuro. John
vision, ASCE, 103(GT6): 501–516. Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., Sept. 10–11, pp. 105–120.
Castro, G., Poulos, S.J., France, J.W., and Enos, J.L. 1982. Lique- Vaid, Y.P., and Thomas, J. 1995. Liquefaction and post liquefaction
faction induced by cyclic loading. Report by Geotechnical Engi- behaviour of sand. Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, ASCE,
neers Inc., Winchester, Mass., to the National Science 121(2): 163–173.
Foundation, Washington, D.C. U.S. Department of Commerce, Vaid, Y.P., Chern, J.C., and Tumi, H. 1985. Confining pressure,
Access Number PB 82-235508. grain angularity and liquefaction. Journal of Geotechnical Engi-
Garrison, R.E., Luternauer, J.L., Grill, E.V., MacDonald, R.D., and neering, ASCE, 111(10): 1229–1235.
Murray, J.W. 1969. Early diagenetic cementation of recent sands, Vaid, Y.P., Chung, E.K.F., and Kuerbis, R. 1989. Preshearing and
Fraser River delta, British Columbia. Sedimentology, 12: 27–46. undrained response of sand. Soils and Foundations, 29(4): 49–61.
Lee, K.L., and Seed, H.B. 1967. Dynamic strength of
Vaid, Y.P., Chung, E.K.F., and Kuerbis, R. 1990. Stress path and
anisotropically consolidated sand. Journal of the Soil Mechanics
steady state. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 27: 1–7.
and Foundations Division, ASCE, 93(SM5): 169–190.
Vaid, Y.P., Uthayakumar, M., Sivathayalan, S., Robertson, P.K.,
Lee, K.L., Makdisi, F.I., Idriss, I.M., and Seed, H.B. 1975. Prop-
and Hofmann, B. 1995. Laboratory testing of Syncrude sand. In
erties of soil in the San Fernando hydraulic fill dams. Journal of
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earthquakes. National research Council Report CETS-EE-001,
National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. List of symbols
Oda, M., Koishikawa, I., and Higuehi, T. 1978. Experimental study
of anisotropic shear strength of sand by plane strain test. Soils CRR cyclic resistance ratio (i.e., normalized cyclic shear
and Foundations, 18(1): 25–38. stress required to induce liquefaction in a specified
Riemer, M.F., and Seed, R.B. 1997. Factors affecting apparent po- number of cycles)
sition of the steady state line. Journal of Geotechnical Engi- (CRR)100, 0 cyclic resistance ratio at σ ′ = 100 kPa and no static
neering, ASCE, 123(3): 281–288. shear
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(CRR)σ′,α cyclic resistance ratio at effective confining stress σ ′ φ CSR Friction angle at critical stress ratio
and static shear ratio α φ QSS/SS steady state or quasi steady state friction angle
CSR critical stress ratio (i.e., effective stress ratio at the trig- σd,cyc cyclic deviator stress
gering of strain softening) σh horizontal stress
Cu uniformity coefficient D60 /D10 σv vertical stress
D50 mean grain size σ1 major principal stress
Dr relative density σ3 minor principal stress
Drc relative density at the end of consolidation σ′ effective confining stress
Dri initial relative density σ 1′ effective major principal stress
ec void ratio at the end of consolidation σ1c′ effective major principal stress at the end of consolida-
emin minimum index void ratio tion
emax maximum index void ratio σ 3′ effective minor principal stress
Kc effective stress ratio ( σ1c′ / σ 3c
′ ) at the end of consolidation σ3c′ effective minor principal stress at the end of consolida-
Kα correction factor for the effect of static shear on cyclic tion
resistance σ ′h horizontal effective stress
Kσ correction factor for the effect of confining stress level σ hc
′ horizontal effective stress at the end of consolidation
on cyclic resistance σ nc
′ normal effective stress on the plane of maximum shear
Kασ correction factor for the combined effect of static shear stress
and confining stress level on cyclic resistance σ v′ vertical effective stress
N number of cycles σ vc
′ vertical effective stress at the end of consolidation
SQSS/SS steady state or quasi steady state strength in strain- τ cyc cyclic shear stress amplitude
softening sand τ st static shear stress
α normalized initial static shear εa axial strain

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