The undrained shear strength characteristics of silty sand: an experimental study of the effect of fines

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Mostefa Belkhatir
Hanifi Missoum
Ahmed Arab
Noureddine Della
Tom Schanz


This laboratory investigation has been conducted to elucidate how the fines fraction affects the undrained residual shear strength and liquefaction potential of sand-silt mixtures (Algeria). A series of monotonic and cyclic undrained triaxial tests were carried out on undrained, reconstituted, saturated samples of sand with varying fines content ranging from 0 to 50%. These were undertaken in order to evaluate the effect of the fines fraction on the undrained residual shear strength and liquefaction potential of loose, medium dense, and dense sand-silt mixtures (Dr = 17%, 53%, 62% and 91%), under an initial confining pressure of 100 kPa. The results of the monotonic tests indicate that the stress-strain response and shear strength behaviour is controlled by the percentage of the fines fraction and the samples become contractive for the studied relative density (Dr = 17% and 91%). The undrained residual shear strength decreases as the gross void ratio decreases, and the fines content increases up to 30%. Above this level of fines, it decreases with increasing gross void ratio. Moreover, the undrained residual strength decreases linearly as the fines content and the intergranular void ratio increase. Cyclic test results show that for the studied amplitude, the increase in fines content leads to an acceleration of liquefaction. The liquefaction resistance decreases with the increase in gross void ratio and the loading amplitude.


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