American Society of Civil Engineers

Mechanistic Corrections for Determining the Resilient Modulus of Base Course Materials Based on Elastic Wave Measurements

by C. C. Schuettpelz, (Geological Engineer, Golder Associates, Inc., Lakewood, CO 80228. E-mail:, D. Fratta, (corresponding author), A.M.ASCE, (Associate Professor, Geological Engineering Program, Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706 E-mail:, and T. B. Edil, F.ASCE, (Diplomate of Geotechnical Engineering and Professor, Geological Engineering Program, Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706. E-mail:

Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol. 136, No. 8, August 2010, pp. 1086-1094, (doi:

     Access full text
     Purchase Subscription
     Permissions for Reuse  

Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: The mechanical performance of pavement systems depends on the stiffness of subsurface soil and aggregate materials. The moduli of base course, subbase, and subgrade soils included in pavement systems need to be characterized for their use in the new empirical-mechanistic design procedure (NCHRP 1-37A). Typically, the resilient modulus test is used in the design of base and subbase layers under repetitive loads. Unfortunately, resilient modulus tests are expensive and cannot be applied to materials that contain particles larger than 25 mm (for 125-mm diameter specimens) without scalping the large grains. This paper examines a new methodology for estimating resilient modulus based on the propagation of elastic waves. The method is based on using a mechanistic approach that relates the P-wave velocity-based modulus to the resilient modulus through corrections for stress, void ratio, strain, and Poisson’s ratio effects. Results of this study indicate that resilient moduli are approximately 30% of Young’s moduli based on seismic measurements. The technique is then applied to specimens with large-grain particles. Results show that the methodology can be applied to large-grained materials and their resilient modulus can be estimated with reasonable accuracy based on seismic techniques. An approach is proposed to apply the technique to field determinations of modulus.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Resilient modulus
Seismic effects
Base course
Granular media
Wave measurement

Author Keywords:
Resilient modulus
Seismic modulus
Base course
Subbase course
Large-grain materials
Granular materials