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Observed and calculated load–settlement

relationship in a sandy gravel
Fernando Rodríguez-Roa

Abstract: The purpose of this research was to obtain a better understanding of the nonlinear stress–strain behavior of
the typical gravel of Santiago, Chile, due to the increasing needs for construction of high-rise buildings, multilevel un-
derground constructions, and new subway lines to be built under historical city landmarks. A finite-element computer
program to perform incremental stress–strain analyses of soils was developed on the basis of a modified version of the
hyperbolic elastic model. The changes herein proposed to this well-known constitutive model were based on triaxial
tests carried out on 150 mm diameter specimens of compacted sandy gravels which involved various stress paths. A
comparison was performed between the observed and calculated load–settlement relationship in a plate-load test that in-
cluded unloading–reloading cycles. From the good agreement obtained it is concluded that the modified version of the
hyperbolic model proposed represents reasonably well the behavior of the Santiago gravel.

Key words: constitutive relations, finite-element model, laboratory tests, field tests, soil properties, case history.

Résumé : Le but de cette recherche était d’acquérir une meilleure compréhension du comportement contrainte-
déformation non linéaire du gravier typique de Santiago (Chili), compte tenu des besoins accrus pour la construction de
tours d’habitation, de constructions souterraines à multiples étages, et de nouvelles lignes de métros qui seront
construites sous des repères historiques de la ville. On a développé un programme d’ordinateur en éléments finis pour
des analyses par incréments contrainte-déformation des sols sur la base d’une version modifiée du modèle hyperbolique
élastique. Les changements proposés ici à ce modèle de comportement bien connu ont été fondés sur des essais
triaxiaux réalisés le long de divers cheminements de contrainte sur des spécimens de 150 mm de graviers sableux
compactés. Une comparaison a été faite entre les relations contrainte-déformation calculée et observée dans un essai de
chargement de plaque qui incluait des cycles de déchargement-rechargement. Compte tenu de la bonne concordance
obtenue, on conclut que la version modifiée du modèle hyperbolique proposée représentee raisonnablement bien le
comportement du gravier de Santiago.
Mots clés : relations de comportement, modèle d’éléments finis, essais de laboratoire, essais de terrain, propriétés de
sols, histoire de cas.
[Traduit par la Rédaction] Rodríguez-Roa 342

Introduction version of hyperbolic stress–strain relationships has been se-

lected because of its convenience and practicality, despite
The increasing construction of high-rise buildings, multi- the fact that these constitutive relationships are inherently
level underground parking lots, and new subway lines under elastic and do not model plastic deformations in a fully logi-
historical city landmarks located on the gravel of Santiago, cal way (Duncan 1996).
Chile, have led Chilean geotechnical engineers to perform Elastoplastic and elastoviscoplastic stress–strain relation-
different types of field measurements (Escobar 1971; ships have the advantage that they model more realistically
Ortigosa et al. 1973; Kort et al. 1979; Campos 1981; Poblete coupling between shear and volumetric strains and the be-
et al. 1981; Kort and Ortigosa 1995) and numerical analyses havior of soils close to failure, at failure, and after failure
(Bustamante 1987; Rodríguez-Roa 1998) to evaluate the (Owen and Hinton 1980; Chen and Mizuno 1990). However,
shear strength and stress–strain behavior of this soil. they have the limitation that they are more complex (Duncan
The selection of an appropriate soil stress–strain relation- 1996).
ship is primarily involved with balancing simplicity and ac- Preliminary finite-element analyses based on two previous
curacy. There is no benefit in using a very complex formulations of the hyperbolic elastic model were carried
relationship to analyze a geotechnical problem when a sim- out to simulate a plate-load test that included unloading–re-
ple representation of the stress–strain behavior of the soil re- loading cycles (Kort and Ortigosa 1995). The first model
sults in acceptable accuracy. In this paper, a modified used was described by Duncan et al. (1980a), and the second
model by Boscardin et al. (1990). However, neither of these
two hyperbolic models was able to reproduce the whole
Received February 22, 1999. Accepted August 30, 1999. load–settlement relationship satisfactorily. These early nu-
F. Rodríguez-Roa. Department of Structural and merical results showed the need for introducing some im-
Geotechnical Engineering, The Catholic University of Chile, provements to existing hyperbolic models. The proposed
Casilla 306, Correo 22, Santiago, Chile. version of the hyperbolic elastic model, based on laboratory

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334 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 37, 2000

Fig. 1. Grain-size distributions of the sandy gravels analyzed. Typical values obtained from Los Angeles Machine tests
(American Society for Testing and Materials ASTM D-18
Standards, C535-89) range from 15 to 25%.
From earth pressure measurements performed at line 1 of
the Santiago subway system, Ortigosa et al. (1973) obtained
a coefficient of earth pressure at rest, k0, of 0.33. This value
was later confirmed by Kort et al. (1979) and Rodríguez-Roa
When experimental data obtained from vertical load tests
have been compared with measurements from horizontal
load tests carried out at the same depth it has been observed
in this gravel that the initial horizontal modulus is larger
than the initial vertical modulus, but the difference is usually
less than 10% (Rodríguez-Roa 1998).
On the basis of a number of plate-load tests performed at
different sites and depths, and taking into account the settle-
ments measured during the construction process of three tall
buildings, Poblete (1982) proposed the following relation-
ships to evaluate the initial elastic moduli:

[1] E1 = 65 000 z

[2] E2 = 46 000 z

triaxial tests that involved various stress paths, is shown to where E1 and E2 are the small-strain Young’s moduli
successfully reproduce the behavior of the Santiago gravel. (in kPa) of the first and second deposits, respectively, of the
Mapocho River; and z is the depth (in m) of the point con-
Geotechnical characteristics of Santiago sidered.
gravel On the other hand, Campos (1981) subjected an undis-
turbed prismatical sample, 0.40 m high and 9.0 m deep,
The fluvial gravel of Santiago is a thick deposit of dense, which was trimmed by hand, to a simple field tensile test by
sandy gravel containing about 3% fines, with plasticity indi- applying a gradually increasing axial force on its upper end.
ces ranging from 5 to 20, and subrounded coarse particles The maximum tensile stress was approximately 8 kPa, and
with sizes of up to 0.30 m in diameter. The average particle- the small-strain Young’s modulus, Ets, was 10 700 kPa.
size distribution curve obtained by Kort et al. (1979) is
shown in Fig. 1. Usually the gravel is overlaid by a 1.5–
3.0 m thick deposit of low-plasticity clay of medium to high Modified version of the hyperbolic elastic
consistency. From its surface down to a depth of 5–7 m, the model
gravel contains low-plasticity silty fines, with a cohesion, c,
Hyperbolic elastic stress–strain relationships have been
of about 20 kPa, and an angle of internal friction, φ, of 45°
employed quite widely. Most of these applications have used
(Ortigosa 1994). This upper gravelly stratum is known as the
the equations derived by Duncan and Chang (1970) and
second deposit of the Mapocho River (Poblete et al. 1981).
Duncan et al. (1980a). The tangent Young’s modulus on pri-
Below this stratum, the gravelly deposit is still more dense,
mary loading, Epl, is expressed as
usually with more plastic clayey fines, but particle-size dis-
tribution characteristics are very similar. From large-scale 2
 R (1 − sin φ)( σ1 − σ 3) 
triaxial tests on undisturbed samples, values of c = 24 kPa [3] Epl = Ei 1 − f 
and φ = 53° were determined by Kort et al. (1979) for this  2c cos φ + 2σ3 sin φ 
lower gravelly stratum (first deposit of the Mapocho River).
These results were obtained from vacuum triaxial tests, so where σ3 is the minor principal stress; σ1 – σ3 is the princi-
the maximum confining pressure used was slightly lower pal stress difference; φ is the slope of the failure envelope or
than atmospheric pressure. angle of internal friction; c is the cohesion; and Rf is the fail-
Typical values of the unit weight of the second and first ure ratio, defined as
gravelly deposits are 22.5 and 23.0 kN/m3, respectively.
(σ1 − σ3 )f
Since the groundwater level is normally deeper than 30 m, [4] Rf =
the gravels are unsaturated and have water contents usually (σ1 − σ3 )ult
ranging from 4 to 6%.
The specific gravity of solid constituents varies from 2.66 where (σ1 – σ3)f is the stress difference at failure; and (σ1 – σ3)ult
for the coarse fraction retained on the number 4 sieve to 2.76 is the asymptotic value of stress difference at large axial
for the fraction passing the number 4 sieve. strains.
The coarse fraction, derived mainly from andesitic rock, The symbol Ei in eq. [3] represents the initial tangent
has a high resistance to degradation by abrasion and impact. Young’s modulus. This modulus is calculated herein as

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Rodríguez-Roa 335

Table 1. Index properties of the test material. Fig. 2. Experimental stress–strain curves and primary-loading hy-
perbola for isotropic compression test.
F (%) ωL IP ω (%) γ (kN/m ) 3

8.0 38.1 8.2 6.50 23.5

Note: F, percent passing the No. 200 sieve; ω L, liquid limit; IP,
plasticity index; ω, water content expressed in percent dry weight; γ, unit

σ 
[5] Ei = Kpa  23 
 pa 
where pa is the atmospheric pressure; K is the
nondimensional modulus number; n is the nondimensional
modulus exponent; and σ23 is the mean confining stress, cal-
culated as σ23 = (σ2 + σ3)/2, where σ2 is the intermediate
principal stress.
If the Mohr-Coulomb failure envelope for compressive
stress states is nonlinear, the following expression is used:
σ 
[6] φ = φ0 − ∆φ log  23 
 pa 
where φ 0 is the value of φ when σ23 = pa; and ∆φ is the reduc-
Differentiating eq. [8] with respect to the volumetric
tion in φ per log-cycle increase in σ23.
strain gives the following expression for the tangent bulk
For unloading–reloading stress changes, the Young’s modulus, Bpl, in terms of σm (Boscardin et al. 1990):
modulus Eur is expressed as
n  σ 
σ  [9] Bpl = Bi 1 + m 
[7] Eur = Kur pa  23   B i εu 
 pa 
where the subscript pl has been introduced instead of the
where Kur is the nondimensional unloading–reloading modu- original subscript t to emphasize that this equation was de-
lus number; and the exponent n is assumed to be the same rived on the basis of isotropic compression on primary load-
for primary loading and unloading–reloading. ing.
It should be pointed out that eqs. [5], [6], and [7] were Drained triaxial tests were carried out on 150 mm diame-
originally derived on the basis of data obtained from stan- ter specimens using disturbed soil samples obtained from the
dard triaxial compression tests in which the intermediate first deposit of the Mapocho River. The soil fraction passing
principal stress σ2 is equal to σ3. For cases in which three- the 25 mm diameter sieve was used for the tests (Fig. 1).
dimensional stresses are involved the constitutive model The test material was prepared at the optimum water content
should also include the value of σ2. The use of σ23 instead of and compacted to 100% of the Modified Proctor maximum
the original stress, σ3, is probably not the best solution but it dry density (ASTM D1557-91). Index properties of the com-
takes into account in some degree the value of σ2 and has the pacted material are summarized in Table 1.
advantage of maintaining the simplified form of the hyper- The results of an isotropic compression triaxial test that
bolic elastic stress–strain relationships. included cycles of unloading and reloading are shown in
From the different formulations used previously to evalu- Fig. 2. The inelastic behavior observed on unloading is
ate the second soil property needed, Poisson’s ratio or bulk mainly due to sliding between soil grains. Particle crushing
modulus, the procedure developed by Boscardin et al. (1990) of the Santiago gravel starts at stress levels above approxi-
seems to be the most appropriate because it avoids many of mately 1500 kPa (P. Ortigosa, personal communication,
the problems involved in other formulations (Duncan 1996). 1995). If particle crushing occurs, the inelastic behavior will
According to such a procedure, the results of an isotropic be more marked. Because of the limitations of the triaxial
compression loading can be represented by a hyperbolic equipment used, the maximum stress applied during this iso-
equation of the form tropic compression test was only 800 kPa.
Bi εvol In Fig. 3, the two unloading curves corresponding to the
[8] σm = first and second cycle of the test have been moved in a man-
ε 
1 −  vol 

ner parallel to the origin by modifying the abscissas or volu-
 εu  metric strains adequately. To maintain the modified
hyperbolic formulation as simple as possible it was assumed
where σm is the mean normal stress; Bi is the initial tangent that if particle crushing is not significant, these unloading
bulk modulus; and εu is the asymptotic value of the volumet- curves may be approximately characterized by a unique hy-
ric strain, εvol, at large values of σm. perbolic expression of the form of eq. [8]. This hyperbolic

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336 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 37, 2000

Fig. 3. Unloading hyperbola and experimental stress–strain Fig. 4. Calculated and experimental stress–strain curves for stan-
curves for isotropic compression test. dard triaxial tests.

Table 2. Hyperbolic parameters fitted to isotropic compression Table 3. Hyperbolic parameters fitted to standard triaxial test
test results. results.

Bi/pa εu Bi(ur)/pa εu(ur) K n Kur Rf c/pa φ0 (°) ∆φ

332.5 0.0165 486.1 0.0037 1660 0.52 2700 0.67 0.50 50.5 0.0

(σ1 − σ3 )
expression may be fitted to the mean relationship of unload- [11] SL =
ing curves available within the range of stresses to be ana- (σ1 − σ3 )f
lyzed. The instantaneous slope of this unique unloading Similarly, when the current mean normal stress MNS, i.e.,
hyperbola, or bulk modulus Bur, may be represented by (σ1 + σ2 + σ3)/3, falls below 95% of the previous maximum
eq. [9], but using the corresponding unloading parameters value MNSmax, the unloading–reloading bulk modulus might
Bi(ur) and ε u(ur) as follows: be used. These considerations are certainly valid for the
2 stress paths of standard triaxial compression tests in which
 σm 
[10] Bur = Bi (ur) 1 +  during loading, or unloading, both SL and MNS move in the
 Bi (ur) εu (ur)  same direction, i.e., both parameters increase or decrease si-
multaneously. However, for other stress paths these parame-
On reloading, hysteresis is ignored, i.e., the unloading hy- ters may move in the opposite direction, and, consequently,
perbola is also accepted as the reloading curve in the model from a theoretical point of view it is possible to have a pri-
used. The hyperbolic parameters fitted to the isotropic com- mary-loading Young’s modulus in conjunction with an un-
pression test results are listed in Table 2. loading–reloading bulk modulus, or vice versa.
To determine the remaining hyperbolic parameters corre- To support this new version of the hyperbolic model on
sponding to the test material, three standard triaxial tests the basis of the experimental evidence, a special triaxial test
were carried out under confining pressures of 50, 100, and was performed. This test consisted of three stages to ana-
200 kPa. Each test included an unloading–reloading cycle at lyze various stress paths. In the first stage, the sample was
approximately one third of the stress difference at failure. consolidated under a confining pressure of 200 kPa and then
However, for clarity, only one of these cycles has been in- gradually loaded to reach a value of σ1 equal to 600 kPa. An
cluded in Fig. 4. The hyperbolic parameters fitted to the unloading–reloading cycle was performed at σ1 = 400 kPa,
standard triaxial test results are listed in Table 3. A value of as seen in Fig. 5a. In the second stage, the vertical stress σ1 =
∆φ = 0 was assumed for the range of confining pressures 600 kPa was maintained while the horizontal stress σ3 was
used. gradually increased from 200 to 600 kPa (Fig. 5a). In the
The nonlinear and stress-dependent stress–strain proper- third stage, still keeping σ1 constant at 600 kPa, the value of
ties of the soils are approximated by performing the numeri- σ3 was gradually decreased until the sample failed (Fig. 5b).
cal analysis in increments. Duncan et al. (1980b) proposed The first stage of the test contains typical stress paths of a
using the unloading–reloading modulus when SL, the cur- standard triaxial test, and therefore the hyperbolic model can
rent stress level of an element, falls below 95% of the previ- be used without difficulty. However, to obtain a better fit
ous maximum value, SLmax. The parameter SL is defined as with the experimental data during the second and third

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Rodríguez-Roa 337

Fig. 5. Calculated and experimental stress–strain curves for special triaxial test: (a) first and second loading stages; (b) third loading

stages of the special triaxial test, different analytical expres- 3Bt − E t

[14] νt =
sions were tried for the moduli. The results of this study can 6Bt
be expressed as follows: (i) if at the beginning of the incre-
ment, SL > 0.95SLmax and MNS > 0.95MNSmax, the moduli
where νt is Poisson’s ratio at the beginning of the increment.
to be used for the increment are Et = Epl and Bt = Bpl; (ii) if
It was assumed that allowable values of νt range from 0.0 to
SL < 0.95SLmax, then for any value of MNS, Et = Eur and Bt
= Bur; (iii) if SL > 0.95SLmax and MNS < 0.95MNSmax,
The numerical results showed a low sensitivity for varia-
tions of the parameter α between 0.8 and 1.2. A value of α =
[12] Et = [SL]αEpl + [1 – (SL)α]Eur 1 was assumed in this case.
When the Boscardin et al. (1990) hyperbolic model was
and applied, the following criterion was employed: (i) if SL >
0.95SLmax, Et = Epl and Bt = Bpl; (ii) if SL < 0.95SLmax, Et =
[13] Bt = [SL]αBpl + [1 – (SL)α]Bur Eur and Bt = Bpl.
To improve the accuracy of the solution, very small stress
where α is the stress-level exponent. Equations [12] and [13] increments of 10 kPa were used in all the numerical calcula-
show that in this case a generalized unloading condition is tions.
nearer the real situation when SL is close to zero, whereas a As expected, the results obtained with both models are
generalized primary-loading condition is predominant when identical in the first loading stage. In the second stage, both
SL is close to unity. models present a similar agreement with the experimental
A comparison of the proposed hyperbolic model, the evidence (Fig. 5a); however, negative values of Poisson’s
Boscardin et al. (1990) hyperbolic model, and experimental ratio resulted when the Boscardin et al. (1990) model was
data, is shown in Figs. 5a and 5b. The numerical calcula- applied, and then νt was set equal to zero, keeping the value
tions were performed on the basis of the tangent stiffness of Et. Negative values of νt were also obtained with the
method and the incremental generalized Hooke’s law taking Boscardin et al. model during the initial part of the third
into account the axisymmetric characteristics of the special loading stage of the test. To analyze the third stage inde-
triaxial test. In addition, the following expression of the the- pendently of the previous stages, the axial strain of the spec-
ory of elasticity was used: imen was set equal to zero at the beginning of this third

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338 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 37, 2000

Fig. 6. Typical inadmissible stress states: cases I, II, and III. stress states, and the corresponding fractions of principal
Failure envelope
stresses to be eliminated, are also illustrated in Fig. 6.
Equation [6] was only used for mean confining stresses
Case I larger than the atmospheric pressure because for confining
ts pressures lower than pa, the Santiago gravel presents a
straight failure envelope, as was shown by Kort et al. (1979).
On the other hand, the program assumes that if particle
Case II
In I : * = GH crushing is not significant, the cohesion remains approxi-
Case III
In II : * = CE mately constant despite a possible reduction in φ, when the
mean confining stress increases.
c In III : * = AD and *= BD In evaluating the stiffness of the six-node interface ele-
A B C GH ments, it was assumed that both normal and shear displace-
D E ments vary quadratically along the length of the element,
which is compatible with the external boundary displace-
Tensile Compressive ments of both eight-node quadrilateral elements and six-
stresses stresses node triangular elements.
The properties of the zero thickness interface element
where * = Fraction of the principal consist of a normal stiffness, Kn, and a shear stiffness, Ks,
stress to be eliminated which are related to the normal and shear stresses acting on
the element by
[15] σn = Kn ∆n
stage of the test (Fig. 5b). As illustrated in Fig. 5b, the re-
sults obtained show an excellent agreement between the pro- and
posed model and the experimental data. The agreement
shown by the Boscardin et al. model is clearly unsatisfac- [16] τ = K s ∆s
tory. where σn and τ are the normal and shear stresses, respec-
tively, acting on the interface; ∆n is the average relative nor-
Finite-element method mal displacement across the element; and ∆s is the average
relative shear displacement along the element.
The computer program FEASOILS (finite element analy-
sis of soil structures) was used for the analysis. This pro- The stiffness values assigned to the interface elements
gram uses several subroutines formulated previously by vary depending on the element stresses at the beginning of
Romero (1996) for the stress–strain analysis of axisymme- each increment. If σn is a tensile stress, both Kn and Ks are
tric and plane-strain problems. Six-node triangular elements, assigned very small values. For compression, the value of Kn
eight-node quadrilateral elements, and six-node interface el- is made very high to prevent significant overlap of the adja-
ements were included. The nonlinear incremental procedure cent finite elements, and the value of Ks is set equal to Kst,
is based on the tangent stiffness matrix method. as proposed by Clough and Duncan (1971):
The program was developed to analyze soil structures sub- m 2
σ   Rfi τ 
mitted to compressive stress states. However, in nonlinear [17] Kst = KI γ w n 

1 −

elastic analyses low tensile stresses may occur in some  pa   τf 
zones subjected to unloading. To take this aspect into ac-
count, the value of σ1 is checked in each element at the be- where Kst is the tangent shear-stiffness value; KI is the
ginning of a new increment. If σ1 is positive (compressive dimensionless shear-stiffness number; m is the shear-
stress), the proposed hyperbolic model is used, even if σ2 stiffness exponent; γ w is the unit weight of water expressed
and (or) σ3 are negative (tensile stresses). In such a case ten- in the same units as Kst ; Rfi is the interface failure ratio; and
sile stresses are replaced by a very small positive value: τ f is the maximum shear stress on the interface.
0.1pa. This value was selected because eqs. [5] and [7] The maximum shear stress on a frictional interface may
should be used for values of σ23, larger than 0.1pa, to avoid be expressed in terms of the interface friction angle, δ, and
numerical problems (Duncan et al. 1980b). If σ1 is negative, the normal stress as follows:
a linear elastic behavior is considered and tensile moduli are
used for the increment. [18] τ f = σn tan δ
It is important to emphasize that the maximum values of After an element has failed in shear, with the interface still
tensile and shear stresses are restricted at the end of each in- in compression, the value of Ks is reduced to a negligible
crement by using the iterative “stress transfer” method pro- value but the value of Kn is kept large.
posed by Zienkiewicz et al. (1968). The nonlinear failure For unloading–reloading, i.e., when τ/ τ f falls below 95%
envelope into the region of compressive stresses and the of the previous maximum value, the following expression is
straight line Mohr-Coulomb failure envelope adopted for adopted for Kst (Morrison and Duncan 1995):
tensile stresses as a simplification are illustrated in Fig. 6.
The internal friction angle, φts, for tensile stresses, shown in σ 

Fig. 6, may be calculated from the maximum tensile stress [19] Kst = KI γ w  n 

measured in a simple tensile test. Some typical inadmissible  pa 

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Rodríguez-Roa 339

Fig. 7. Plate-load test arrangement at the CTC site (adapted from Fig. 8. Finite-element mesh for modeling plate-load test at the
Kort and Ortigosa 1995, their Fig. 2). D, diameter. CTC site. H, height.

A scheme similar to the iterative “stress transfer” method is

employed to simultaneously eliminate, at the end of each in- Table 4. Hyperbolic parameters used for the soil–concrete inter-
crement, tensile normal stresses and (or) excessive shear face.
stresses acting on interface elements.
KI m Rfi δ (°) Kn/ γ w
Finite-element analysis performed 40 000 1.0 0.9 35.3 5.0×108
Note: Kn, normal stiffness value for compressive stresses.
Because of the special features of the CTC building, the
tallest in Santiago, with 33 stories and three underground
basements, a plate-load test was performed by applying a
vertical load per unit area up to 5000 kPa as part of the soil used for loading, unloading, and reloading to improve the
exploration during the project stage. Details of the equip- accuracy of the solution.
ment and test procedure are described by Kort and Ortigosa A linear elastic behavior of the reinforced-concrete mate-
(1995). Figure 7 shows a cross section of the scheme used rial of the plate was assumed, using a Young’s modulus of
for the test. At this site the groundwater level is at a depth of 15 000 MPa and a Poisson’s ratio of 0.25. The hyperbolic
14.2 m. The load was applied in increments by means of a parameters used for the soil–concrete interface (Table 4)
hydraulic jack reacting against a horizontal rigid steel beam were based on the values proposed by Clough and Duncan
tied to a pair of anchor footings. The diameter of the plate (1971).
used was 0.80 m, and the vertical distance between the lower To reduce the computational effort during the trial-and-
surface of the plate and the groundwater level was 1.4 times error process, all available experimental data were used as
its diameter. input, i.e., the coefficient of earth pressure at rest k0, the initial
A cross section of the axisymmetric finite-element mesh elastic modulus (eq. [1]), and the stress–strain characteris-
used in modeling this test is illustrated in Fig. 8. Interface tics and strength parameters obtained from the large-scale
elements were inserted between the plate and the underlying triaxial and simple tensile tests. Thus, the following hyper-
soil. From preliminary finite-element linear-elastic analyses bolic parameters were first selected for the first deposit of the
it was concluded that the vicinity of the anchor footings did Mapocho River: k0 = 0.33; K = 2310; n = 0.5; Kur /K = 1.6
not significantly affect the relationship between the load ap- (mean value calculated by Rodríguez-Roa (1998) from ra-
plied and the settlement of the plate. tios Eur/Ei obtained from triaxial and plate-load tests); φ 0 =
The simulation of the excavation process, previous to the 53°; c = 30 kPa (in fact the cohesion derived from the large-
placement of the plate, and the location of the groundwater scale triaxial tests on undisturbed samples was equal to
level were included in the analysis to adequately evaluate the 24 kPa (Kort et al. 1979), but after a few trials it was found
initial effective stress field. that this value was slightly underestimating the real value,
Because the finite-element procedure is based on the tan- probably due to the inevitable disturbance of the samples
gent stiffness matrix method, very small increments were which were trimmed by hand); φts = 74.8°; Ets = 10 700 kPa;

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340 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 37, 2000

Table 5. Hyperbolic parameters fitted to the first deposit of Fig. 10. Failed zones at different stages of the plate-load test.
Mapocho River.
Bi/pa εu Bi(ur)/pa εu(ur) ∆φ α
469.4 0.0115 729.0 0.004 4.0 1.1

Fig. 9. Calculated and experimental load–settlement relationship

for plate-load test at the CTC site.

Fig. 11. Stress paths at soil element 321.

D (277. 0 ; 1. 0 )
1. 0

νts = 0.25 (Poisson’s ratio for a three-dimensional state of

At stage B
{ SL max = 0.348

MNS max = 1321. 1kPa

Stress Level, SL

tensile stresses); and Rf = 0.7 (Duncan et al. 1980a).

Consequently, only the following soil parameters were 0.6
submitted to the trial-and-error process: Bi, ε u, Bi(ur), ε u(ur),
α, and ∆φ (the reduction in φ per log-cycle increase in σ23).
0 .4 C ( 2 095 . 5 ; 0 . 355 )
The values of the hyperbolic parameters finally adjusted to
the behavior of the first deposit of the Mapocho River are B ( 113 . 3 ; 0. 243 )
listed in Table 5. 0.2
In Fig. 9, the load–settlement relationship measured is
compared with the fitted numerical results. Good agreement
was achieved, even for pressures over 1500 kPa. This obser- 0.0
vation shows that despite particle crushing, which could tend 0 1000.0 2000.0 3000.0
to be significant for the highest pressures applied during the
test, it never actually did affect the results. This is probably Mean Normal Stress, MNS (kPa)
due to the particular resistance to crushing of subrounded
particles of the Santiago gravel. The low value fitted to ∆φ served in the second unloading curve close to point D
compared with other published results (Duncan et al. 1980a) (Fig. 9).
is a confirmation of this aspect. Furthermore, it is concluded, The stress path followed by element 321 (Fig. 8), which is
as pointed out by J.M. Duncan (personal communication, directly beneath the plate, is shown in Fig. 11 in terms of the
1997), that dilatancy effects are indirectly reflected in the mean normal stress (MNS) and stress level (SL). For clarity,
values of the parameters that control the relationship be- only the results obtained from stages B to D have been in-
tween the bulk modulus and the stresses. cluded in the figure. During this loading and unloading pro-
The occurrence of soil zones with values of SL greater cess, all theoretically possible relative variations of MNS
than 0.95, i.e., failed zones, has been examined at four dif- and SL take place in element 321. The good agreement
ferent stages corresponding to points A, B, C, and D in observed in Fig. 9 between experimental and predicted re-
Fig. 9. There is no soil element that fulfills such a stress sponses has thus validated the loading–unloading moduli cri-
condition at stage A. However, the situation at stages B, C, teria proposed herein.
and D is different, as seen in Fig. 10. From these results it is Despite the fact that FEASOILS uses DOUBLE PRECI-
observed that most critical stress states take place at the SION, numerical instability problems were found, i.e., small
highest loading level and at the end of the second unloading changes in the hyperbolic parameters to be fitted implied
cycle. This last aspect explains the marked curvature ob- significant variations in the load–settlement relationship

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Rodríguez-Roa 341

calculated, mainly in the final parts of the unloading curves. Bustamante, E.F. 1987. Nonlinear behavior of a cohesionless soil
The loss of precision is caused by the large size of the finite- mass. C.Eng. thesis, School of Engineering, University of Chile,
element mesh used (number of nodes = 1646, with a half Santiago, Chile. (In Spanish.)
band width of 138), added to the existence of soil elements Campos, J.A. 1981. Finite-element analysis of finite-length excava-
with values of SL close to unity, i.e., with low values of tions. C.Eng. thesis, School of Civil Engineering, University of
Young’s modulus, near the concrete and interface elements Chile, Santiago, Chile. (In Spanish.)
with high values of Young’s modulus and normal stiffness Chen, W.F., and Mizuno, E. 1990. Nonlinear analysis in soil me-
for compressive stresses, respectively (Day and Potts 1994). chanics. Theory and Implementation. Elsevier Science Pub-
As part of this research, finite-element analyses were also lishers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
carried out to simulate two additional vertical load tests per- Clough, G.W., and Duncan, J.M. 1971. Finite-element analyses of
formed at other sites in Santiago at depths of 10.5 and retaining wall behavior. Journal of the Soil Mechanics and
Foundations Division, ASCE, 97(12): 1657–1673.
20.0 m. The subsidence induced by the construction of a re-
cently built subway line in Santiago was also modeled. Day, R.A., and Potts, D.M. 1994. Zero thickness interface elements
— numerical stability and application. International Journal for
These analyses were performed by considering the same pa-
Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics, 18: 689–
rameters above fitted to the Santiago gravel, except small
changes for the cohesion (Rodríguez-Roa 1998). It was
Duncan, J.M. 1996. State of the art: limit equilibrium and finite-
found from the good agreements obtained that the ground- element analysis of slopes. Journal of Geotechnical Engineering,
water level did not significantly affect the plate-load test at ASCE, 122(7): 577–596.
the CTC site. In addition, the numerical model also showed Duncan, J.M., and Chang, C.Y. 1970. Nonlinear analysis of stress
a good performance for solving plane-strain problems1. and strain in soils. Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Founda-
tions Division, ASCE, 96(5): 1629–1653.
Conclusions Duncan, J.M., Byrne, P., Wong, K.S., and Mabry, P. 1980a.
Strength, stress–strain and bulk modulus parameters for finite el-
A finite-element computer program to perform incremen- ement analysis of stresses and movements in soil masses. Uni-
tal stress–strain analyses of soil structures has been formu- versity of California, Berkeley, Calif., Report UCB/GT/80-01.
lated on the basis of a modified version of the hyperbolic Duncan, J.M., Wong, K.S., and Ozawa, Y. 1980b. FEADAM: a
elastic model. This constitutive model takes into account in computer program for finite element analysis of dams. Univer-
some degree the value of the intermediate principal stress sity of California, Berkeley, Calif., Report UCB/GT/80-02.
and considers that both Young’s modulus and the bulk Escobar, G. 1971. Shear strength parameters for the gravel of San-
modulus depend on both the stress state and the stress his- tiago. C.Eng. thesis, School of Engineering, Catholic University
tory. For the dense sandy gravels analyzed the additional pa- of Chile, Santiago, Chile. (In Spanish.)
rameter α required for the model is close to unity. Kort, I., and Ortigosa, P. 1995. Foundation of the CTC building on
The model has been shown to successfully simulate the the Santiago gravel. In Proceedings of the 10th Panamerican
nonlinear behavior of the Santiago gravel (first deposit of the Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering,
Mapocho River) for loading, unloading, and reloading. The Guadalajara, Mexico, Vol. 2, pp. 1218–1229.
fitted values of the hyperbolic parameters are in accordance Kort, I., Musante, H., and Fahrenkrog, C. 1979. In-situ mechanical
with the characteristics of a dense sandy gravel with properties measurements of gravelly soil used in an interaction
subrounded particles in contact with one another. and foundation model for the Santiago Metro. In Proceedings of
Further experimental work is needed to prove the validity the 6th Panamerican Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foun-
dation Engineering, Lima, Perú, Vol. 2, pp. 217–224.
of the proposed constitutive model for other granular soils,
mainly when they are submitted to stress paths in which SL Morrison, C.S., and Duncan, J.M. 1995. User’s guide for SAGE: a
finite element program for static analysis of geotechnical engi-
increases and MNS decreases, or vice versa. On the other
neering problems. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.
hand, the present hyperbolic model might be incorporated
Ortigosa, P. 1994. Slope stability studies for Line 5 of the Santiago
within a Mohr-Coulomb plasticity model so that “dilation”
subway system. Metro S.A., Santiago, Chile.
and “failure” can be properly taken into account.
Ortigosa, P., Fahrenkrog, C., and Musante, H. 1973. Earth pressure
measurements at Line 1 of the Santiago subway system. Revista
Acknowledgments del IDIEM, University of Chile, 12: 61–92. (In Spanish.)
Owen, D.R.J., and Hinton, E. 1980. Finite elements in plasticity:
This work was supported by the Chilean Fund for Re- theory and practice. Pineridge Press Limited, Swansea, U.K.
search (FONDECYT) under Research Project 1960271. This Poblete, M. 1982. Load deformation properties of some Chilean
support is gratefully acknowledged. The writer also wishes granular soils. In Proceedings of the 1st Chilean Conference on
to thank the comments formulated by professor Horacio Geotechnical Engineering, Santiago, Chile, Vol. 1, pp. 42–57.
Musante during the development of this research. (In Spanish.)
Poblete, M., Ortigosa, P., Caiozzi, P., and Scholz, A. 1981. Elastic
characteristics of the Santiago fluvial gravel. Revista del
IDIEM, University of Chile, 20: 71–84. (In Spanish.)
Boscardin, M.D., Selig, E.T., Lin, R.S., and Yang, G.Y. 1990. Hy- Rodríguez-Roa, F. 1998. Prediction of movements induced by ex-
perbolic parameters for compacted soils. Journal of cavations performed on the Santiago gravel. FONDECYT Re-
Geotechnical Engineering, ASCE, 116(1): 88–104. search Project 1960271, Final report, Santiago, Chile. (In Spanish.)

Rodríguez-Roa, F. 1999. Ground subsidence due to a shallow tunnel in a dense sandy gravel. Submitted for publication.

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342 Can. Geotech. J. Vol. 37, 2000

Romero, M.L. 1996. Nonlinear stress–strain analysis of soil struc- γ unit weight (soil, water, and air)
tures using the finite-element method. M.Sc. thesis, Catholic γw unit weight of water
University of Chile, Santiago, Chile. (In Spanish.) δ interface friction angle
Zienkiewicz, O.C., Valliappan, B.E., and King, I.P. 1968. Stress ∆n average relative normal displacement across the
analysis of rock as a ‘no tension’ material. Géotechnique, 18: interface element
56–66. ∆s average relative shear displacement along the interface
List of symbols ∆φ reduction in φ per log-cycle increase in σ23
εa axial strain
Bi initial tangent bulk modulus on primary loading
εu asymptotic value of the volumetric strain at large mean
Bi(ur) initial tangent bulk modulus on unloading–reloading
normal stresses on primary loading
Bpl bulk modulus on primary loading
εu(ur) asymptotic value of the volumetric strain at large mean
Bt tangent bulk modulus at the beginning of the increment
normal stresses on unloading–reloading
Bur bulk modulus on unloading–reloading
εvol volumetric strain
c cohesion
φ slope of the failure envelope into the region of compres-
D diameter
sive stresses
Ei initial tangent Young’s modulus on primary loading
φts slope of the failure envelope into the region of tensile
Epl Young’s modulus on primary loading
Et tangent Young’s modulus at the beginning of the incre-
φ0 φ when σ23 = pa
νt Poisson’s ratio at the beginning of the increment
Ets small-strain Young’s modulus from a simple tensile test
νts Poisson’s ratio for a three-dimensional state of tensile
Eur Young’s modulus on unloading–reloading
E1 small-strain Young’s modulus of the first deposit of the
τ shear stress
Mapocho River
τf maximum shear stress on the interface
E2 small-strain Young’s modulus of the second deposit of
σm mean normal stress
the Mapocho River
σn normal stress on the interface
F percentage passing the No. 200 sieve
σ1 major principal stress
H height
σ2 intermediate principal stress
IP plasticity index
σ3 minor principal stress
K modulus number on primary loading
σ23 mean confining stress
KI dimensionless shear-stiffness number at interface
σi* fraction of the principal stress σi to be eliminated
(σ1 – σ3)f stress difference at failure
Kn normal stiffness value at interface elements
(σ1 – σ3)ult asymptotic value of stress difference at large axial strains
Ks shear stiffness value at interface elements
ω water content in percent dry weight
Kst tangent shear-stiffness value
ωL liquid limit
Kur modulus number on unloading–reloading
k0 coefficient of earth pressure at rest
m shear-stiffness exponent at interface elements Subscripts
MNS current mean normal stress f failure
n modulus exponent i initial
pa atmospheric pressure m mean
Rf failure ratio max maximum value
Rfi interface failure ratio pl primary loading
SL current stress level ts tensile stress
z depth of the point considered ult ultimate or asymptotic value
α stress-level exponent ur unloading reloading

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