American Society of Civil Engineers

Effect of Progressive Failure on Measured Shear Strength of Geomembrane/GCL Interface

by Patrick J. Fox, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg. and Geodetic Sci., Ohio State Univ., Columbus, OH 43210. E-mail: and Robert H. Kim, (Formerly, Grad. Res. Asst., School of Civ. Engrg., Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN 47907)

Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol. 134, No. 4, April 2008, pp. 459-469, (doi:

     Access full text
     Purchase Subscription
     Permissions for Reuse  

Document type: Journal Paper
Award Title: Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award, 2009
Abstract: This paper presents experimental data and numerical modeling results that illustrate the effects of progressive failure on the measured shear strength of a textured geomembrane/geosynthetic clay liner (GMX/GCL) interface. Large direct shear tests were conducted using different specimen gripping/clamping systems to isolate the effects of progressive failure. These tests indicate that progressive failure causes a reduction in measured peak shear strength, an increase in the displacement at peak, an increase in large displacement shear strength, and significant distortion of the shear stress — displacement relationship. A numerical model was developed to simulate progressive failure of a GMX/GCL interface. Measured and simulated shear stress — displacement relationships are in good-to-excellent agreement at four normal stress levels. The model was then used to investigate mechanisms of progressive interface failure and factors that control its significance. The results indicate that accurate measurements of shear stress — displacement behavior and strength are obtained when gripping surfaces prevent slippage of the test specimen and the intended failure surface has the lowest shear resistance of all possible sliding surfaces. The use of proper gripping surfaces is expected to reduce difficulties in test data interpretation and to increase the accuracy and reproducibility of test results.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Numerical analysis
Progressive collapse
Shear strength