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Feasibility of in-situ evaluation of soil void ratio in clean sands using high resolution measurements of Vp and Vs from DPCH testing

1 QuakeCoRE, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
2 Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

Special Issues: Characterization and Engineering Properties of Natural Soils used for geotesting

For engineering purposes, the density of soil is often expressed in terms of void ratio. Void ratio is a key parameter in critical state soil mechanics and governs our understanding of soil compressibility, permeability, and shear strength. Typically, in-situ void ratio is evaluated based on laboratory measurements on high-quality, "undisturbed" samples of soil. While undisturbed sampling of clayey soils is commonplace in geotechnical practice, high-quality samples of granular soils are difficult and expensive to obtain. Hence, void ratio of granular soils is typically estimated using empirical relationships to in-situ measurements from penetration testing. Even for clean sands there is significant variability in these estimates, and for mixed-grain soils the applicability and performance of the empirical relationships is quite uncertain. Therefore, a more reliable way of measuring in-situ void ratio is needed. This paper examines the feasibility of evaluating in-situ soil void ratio based on the theory of linear poroelasticity and the propagation velocity of compression and shear waves (i.e., vp and vs, respectively) through fluid-saturated porous materials. Specifically, soil void ratio is evaluated via a porosity relationship that is a function of vp, vs, and four additional parameters describing the physical properties of the soil (i.e., the Poisson's ratio of the soil skeleton, the bulk modulus and mass density of water, and the mass density of the solid soil particles). In this study, the effectiveness of using high-resolution vp and vs measurements from direct-push crosshole testing to estimate in-situ void ratios is investigated at ten, predominantly clean-sand case history sites in Christchurch, New Zealand, via a comparison with void ratio estimates developed from penetration testing measurements. The seismic-based void ratio estimates are shown to be particularly sensitive to vp, requiring a measurement error of less than 2%. Given the need to make such precise in-situ measurements of vp, the DPCH method is believed to show particular promise for enabling accurate, seismic-based estimates of void ratio in the future.
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