Settlement of Embankments on Soft Clays

by Gholamreza Mesri, (M.ASCE), Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, United States,
Dominic O. Kwan Lo, (A.M.ASCE), Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, United States,
Tao-Wei Feng, (A.M.ASCE), Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Vertical and Horizontal Deformations of Foundations and Embankments


It is now possible to make reliable predictions of settlement of embankments on soft clays. In most situations, where the embankment is designed to resist undrained instability during construction, one-dimensional settlement analysis is applicable and is the most appropriate approach. Equipment and procedures for high-quality soil sampling for laboratory tests, as well as reliable in situ tests are available for detailed profiling of compressible ground. With the help of the computer, it is no longer necessary to idealize the compressible profile into one or two homogeneous layers. The most important information required for settlement analysis is for each layer, end-of-primary e-log σv' curve, including reliable estimate of σp', and e-log kv, as well as e-log kh relations when vertical drains are used. The proposed approach and procedures are illustrated by predictions and field observations of surface and subsurface settlement for ten large-scale embankment construction projects. Analysis of field observations suggest that prefabricated vertical drains in typical field situations mobilize discharge capacities significantly less than those measured in laboratory longitudinal flow tests. However, in most soft clay applications the mobilized discharge capacity of high-quality prefabricated drains is comparable to the minimum discharge capacity required for negligible well resistance.

Subject Headings: Soil settlement | Field tests | Drainage | Clays | Soft soils | Soil compression | Soil analysis | Soil-structure interaction

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