Wetting of compacted clays under laterally restrained conditions:initial state, overburden pressure and mineralogy

V Sivakumar, J Zaini, D Gallipoli, Brian Solan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


Compacted clay fills are generally placed at the optimum value of water content and, immediately after placement, they are unsaturated. Wetting might subsequently occur due, for example, to rainfall infiltration, which can cause volumetric deformation of the fill (either swell or collapse) with associated loss of shear strength and structural integrity. If swelling takes place under partially restrained deformation, due for example to the presence of a buried rigid structure or a retaining wall, additional stresses will develop in the soil and these can be detrimental to the stability of walling elements and other building assets. Factors such as dry density, overburden pressure, compaction water content and type of clay are known to influence the development of stresses. This paper investigatesthese factors by means of an advanced stress path testing programme performed on four different clays with different mineralogy, index properties and geological histories. Specimens of kaolin clay, London Clay, Belfast Clay and Ampthill Clay were prepared at different initial states and subjected to ‘controlled’ wetting, whereby the suction was reduced gradually to zero under laterally restrained conditions (i.e. K0 conditions). The results showed that the magnitude of the increase in horizontal stresses (and therefore the increase of K0) is influenced by the overburden pressure, compaction water content, dry density at the time of compaction and mineralogy.KEYWORDS: clays; retaining walls; stress paths; suction
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-125
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Feb 2015


  • clays
  • retaining walls
  • stresspaths
  • suction


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