Selection of Undrained Shear Strength Parameters of Residual Soils and their Application in Stability Analysis

Selection of Undrained Shear Strength Parameters of Residual Soils and their Application in Stability Analysis

Authors: B. Dareeju, T. Rowles, Y. Xu and A. Dissanayake
Conference: Mine Waste and Tailings 2021
Date: July 1-2, 2021

Recent updates on tailings dam design guidelines require analysis of undrained (short-term) stability with the application of the SHANSEP model. The SHANSEP model, which was originally developed for alluvial soils, predicates that the Undrained Shear Strength (Su) increases with increasing effective stress. Residual soils by their nature do not necessarily follow this relationship. This paper examines an alternate method to define Su over a range of effective stress conditions for residual soils.

Residual soils, formed by weathering of their parent rocks, are generally micro-structured in nature. The microstructural features, such as interparticle bonding, play a fundamental role in stress-strain behaviour of the residual soils. As interparticle bonding is independent of effective stress and void ratio, the undrained shear strength of residual soils is expected to be less dependent on effective stress than alluvial soils, especially at low stress levels. A series of triaxial tests conducted on residual soils, however, indicated that the undrained shear strength and the undrained shear strength ratio (Su/σv’) are to a degree dependant on effective stress. It was found that the undrained shear strength ratio is significantly higher under low stress levels and progressively reduces with increasing effective stress. Based on the laboratory testing data, a strength function with varying undrained shear strength ratios can be developed for the residual soils under the stress range anticipated for a design of a tailings dam. This includes capping the input undrained strength at lower effective stresses based on the drained (effective) and minimum undrained strength. The Factor of Safety (FOS) calculated for the embankment utilising the traditional limit equilibrium (LE) method indicated the application of undrained strength function for the residual soils can provide a significant optimisation for the embankment design compared to adopting a constant undrained shear strength ratio or constant undrained shear strength in the design.


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