Effects of Reinforcement and Soil Viscosity on the Behaviour of Embankments Over Soft Soil
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A verified elasto-viscoplastic finite element model is used to develop a better understanding of the performance of embankments with geosynthetic reinforcement constructed over rate-sensitive soil. The interaction between reinforcement and prefabricated vertical drains (PVDs) and their effects on time-dependent behaviour of embankments are examined. For rate-sensitive soils, the generation of creep-induced pore pressures following the end of construction is evident along the potential slip surface. As a result, the minimum factor of safety with respect to embankment stability occurs after the end of construction. The combined use of reinforcement and PVDs are shown to provide an effective means of minimizing creep-induced excess pore pressure, increasing overall stability, and decreasing deformation of the embankments. The combined effects of the viscoelastic properties of geosynthetic reinforcement (polyester, polypropylene and polyethylene) and the rate-sensitive nature of foundation soils on the performance of embankments are examined. The effect of various factors, including reinforcement type (i.e., stiffness and viscosity), soil viscosity, construction rate and allowable long-term reinforcement strain, on the time-dependent behaviour of embankments are considered. The long-term performance of reinforced embankments is investigated for different maximum allowable long-term reinforcement strains. From a series of finite element analyses, the ideal allowable reinforcement strains to minimize embankment deformation while providing optimum long-term service height of the embankment, considering the effect of soil and reinforcement viscosity, are proposed for soils similar to those examined in this study. The currently proposed design methods for embankments with creep-susceptible reinforcement over rate-sensitive soils appear to be overly conservative. This study proposes a refined approach for establishing the allowable long-term reinforcement strains that are expected to provide adequate performance while reducing the level of conservativeness of reinforced embankment design. Finally, a previously developed elasto-viscoplastic constitutive model is modified to incorporate the effect of soil structure using a state-dependent fluidity parameter and damage law. The model was evaluated against data from a well-documented case study of a reinforced test embankment constructed on a sensitive Champlain clay deposit in Saint Alban, Quebec. The benefit of basal reinforcement and the effect of reinforcement viscosity are then discussed for these types of soil deposits.