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Desirable Properties of Sub Grade Soil

Stability Incompressibility Permanency of strength

Minimum changes in volume and stability under adverse conditions

of weather and ground water Good drainage, and Ease of compaction

Characteristics of Subgrade Soil

Load bearing capacity. able to support loads transmitted from the pavement structure without excessive deformation.

Moisture content.
Moisture tends to affect a number of subgrade properties including load bearing capacity, shrinkage and swelling. Shrinkage and/or swelling. soils with excessive fines content may be susceptible to frost

heave in northern climates.

Subgrade Soil Properties and Functions

one of the principal highway materials Foundation to the pavement The main function:

to give adequate support to the pavement and for this the

subgrade should possess sufficient stability under adverse climate and loading conditions. To bear the external loads

Effect of Poor Subgrade

Flexible pavements The formation of waves Corrugations

rutting and shoving in black top pavements

Rigid pavements the phenomena of pumping blowing and consequent cracking

Types of Soil
Gravel: coarse materials with particle size under 2.36 mm with little or no fines contributing to cohesion of materials. Moorum: products of decomposition and weathering of the

pavement rock.
Silts: finer than sand, brighter in color as compared to clay, and exhibit little cohesion.

Clays: finer than silts. Clayey soils exhibit stickiness, high strength
when dry, and show no dilatancy.

Tests on Soil
Shear tests These tests are usually carried out on relatively small soil samples in the laboratory. In order to find out the strength properties of soil, a

number of representative samples from different locations are

tested. Some of the commonly known shear tests are direct shear test, Triaxial compression test, and unconfined compression test.

Tests on Soil
Bearing tests Bearing tests are loading tests carried out on sub grade soils in-situ with a load bearing area. The results of the bearing tests are influenced by variations in the soil properties within the stressed soil mass underneath and hence the overall stability of the part of

the soil mass stressed could be studied.

Tests on Soil
Penetration tests Penetration tests may be considered as small scale bearing tests in which the size of the loaded area is relatively much smaller and

ratio of the penetration to the size of the loaded area is much greater
than the ratios in bearing tests. The penetration tests are carried out in the field or in the laboratory.

Stiffness and Strength Tests

Stiffness the relationship between stress and strain in the elastic range or how well a material is able to return to its original shape and

size after being stressed

Strength the stress needed to break or rupture a material

Stiffness and Strength Tests

California Bearing Ratio (CBR), Resistance Value (R-value), Resilient modulus and

Modulus of Subgrade Reaction.

California Bearing Ratio (CBR) Test

developed by the California Division of Highways around 1930 simple strength test that compares the bearing capacity of a material with that of a well-graded crushed stone .

To evaluate the strength of cohesive materials having maximum

particle sizes less than 19 mm. CBR test, an empirical test, has been used to determine the material properties for pavement design. Empirical tests measure the strength of the material and are not a true representation of the resilient modulus.

California Bearing Ratio (CBR) Test

It is a penetration test wherein a standard piston, having an area of 3 in (or 50 mm diameter), is used to penetrate the soil at a standard rate of 1.25 mm/minute.

The pressure up to a penetration of 12.5 mm and it's ratio to the

bearing value of a standard crushed rock is termed as the CBR. In most cases, CBR decreases as the penetration increases.

The ratio at 2.5 mm penetration is used as the CBR.

In some case, the ratio at 5 mm may be greater than that at 2.5 mm. If this occurs, the ratio at 5 mm should be used.

California Bearing Ratio (CBR) Test

The CBR is a measure of resistance of a material to penetration of standard plunger under controlled density and moisture conditions. The test procedure should be strictly adhered if high degree of

reproducibility is desired.
The CBR test may be conducted in re-moulded or undisturbed specimen in the laboratory.

The test is simple and has been extensively investigated for field
correlations of flexible pavement thickness requirement.

California Bearing Ratio (CBR) Test

California Bearing Ratio (CBR) Test

The laboratory CBR apparatus consists of a mould 150 mm diameter with a base plate and a collar, a loading frame and dial gauges for measuring the penetration values and the expansion on soaking.

The specimen in the mould is soaked in water for four days and the
swelling and water absorption values are noted. The surcharge weight is placed on the top of the specimen in the

mould and the assembly is placed under the plunger of the loading
frame. Load is applied on the sample by a standard plunger with diameter of 50 mm at the rate of 1.25 mm/min.

California Bearing Ratio (CBR) Test

A load penetration curve is drawn. The load values on standard crushed stones are 1370 kg and 2055 kg at 2.5 mm and 5.0 mm penetrations respectively.

CBR value is expressed as a percentage of the actual load causing

the penetrations of 2.5 mm or 5.0 mm to the standard loads mentioned above. Therefore,

California Bearing Ratio (CBR) Test

Two values of CBR will be obtained. If the value of 2.5 mm is greater than that of 5.0 mm penetration, the former is adopted. If the CBR value obtained from test at 5.0 mm penetration is higher

than that at 2.5 mm, then the test is to be repeated for checking.
If the check test again gives similar results, then higher value obtained at 5.0 mm penetration is reported as the CBR value.

The average CBR value of three test specimens is reported as the

CBR value of the sample.

Modulus of Subgrade Reaction

The modulus of subgrade reaction (k) is used as a primary input for rigid pavement design. It estimates the support of the layers below a rigid pavement surface course (the PCC slab). The k-value can be determined by field tests or by correlation with other tests. There is no direct laboratory procedure for determining kvalue. The modulus of subgrade reaction came about because work done by Westergaard during the 1920s developed the k-value as a spring constant to model the support beneath the slab.

Plate bearing test

Plate bearing test is used to evaluate the support capability of subgrades, bases and in some cases, complete pavement. Data from the tests are applicable for the design of both flexible and

rigid pavements.
In plate bearing test, a compressive stress is applied to the soil or pavement layer through rigid plates relatively large size and the

deflections are measured for various stress values.

Plate bearing test

The deflection level is generally limited to a low value, in the order of 1.25 to 5 mm and so the deformation caused may be partly elastic and partly plastic due to compaction of the stressed mass with negligible plastic deformation. The plate-bearing test has been devised to evaluate the supporting power of sub grades or any other pavement layer by using plates of larger diameter. The plate-bearing test was originally meant to find the modulus of sub grade reaction in the Westergaard analysis for wheel load

stresses in cement concrete pavements.

Plate bearing test

The test site is prepared and loose material is removed so that the 75 cm diameter plate rests horizontally in full contact with the soil subgrade.

The plate is seated accurately and then a seating load equivalent to a

pressure of 0.07 kg/cm2 (320 kg for 75 cm diameter plate) is applied and released after a few seconds.

The settlement dial gauge is now set corresponding to zero load.

A load is applied by means of jack, sufficient to cause an average settlement of about 0.25 cm.

Plate bearing test

When there is no perceptible increase in settlement or when the rate of settlement is less than 0.025 mm per minute (in the case of soils with high moisture content or in clayey soils) the load dial reading

and the settlement dial readings are noted.

Deflection of the plate is measured by means of deflection dials; placed usually at one-third points of the plate near it's outer edge.

To minimize bending, a series of stacked plates should be used

Plate bearing test

Average of three or four settlement dial readings is taken as the settlement of the plate corresponding to the applied load. Load is then increased till the average settlement increase to a

further amount of about 0.25 mm, and the load and average
settlement readings are noted as before. The procedure is repeated till the settlement is about 1.75 mm or


Plate bearing test

Plate bearing test

Allowance for worst subgrade moisture and correction for small plate size should be dealt properly. Calculation

A graph is plotted with the mean settlement versus bearing pressure

(load per unit area) as shown in Figure . The pressure corresponding to a settlement is obtained from this graph. The modulus of subgrade reaction is calculated from the relation.

Modulus of subgrade reaction (k)

Modulus of subgrade reaction (k)

The reactive pressure to resist a load is thus proportional to the spring deflection (which is a representation of slab deflection) and k

Relation of Load, Deflection and Modulus of Subgrade Reaction (K)

Modulus of subgrade reaction (k)

The value of k is in terms of MPa/m (pounds per square inch per inch of deflection, or pounds per cubic inch - pci) and ranges from about 13.5 MPa/m (50 pci) for weak support, to over 270 MPa/m

(1000 pci) for strong support.

Typically, the modulus of subgrade reaction is estimated from other strength/stiffness tests, however, in situ values can be measured

using the plate bearing test.

Plate Load Test

The plate load test presses a steel bearing plate into the surface to be measured with a hydraulic jack. The resulting surface deflection is read from dial micrometers near

the plate edge and the modulus of subgrade reaction is determined

by the following equation:

Schematic Diagram of Plate Load Test

Modulus of subgrade reaction (k)

Relation between k and MR

The 1993 AASHTO Guide offers the following relationship between k-values from a plate bearing test and resilient modulus (MR) k = MR/19.4

Stabilisation of Subgrade Soil

Stabilization with a cementitious or asphaltic binder Lime (Lack of Stability) Portland Cement (Plasticity Index 10)

Bitumen Emulsion (Sandy Soil & fines 0.075 mm)

Soil stabilisation with Lime

Soil stabilisation with Cement

Soil stabilisation with Bitumen Emulsion

Frost action

Freezing and Thawing

Climate Change

Climate Change

Effects of Climate Change

Both pavement and supporting layers are exposed to strong climatic

The factors are Air temperature Soil Moisture The effects are

Spalling or even blow out of some slabs.

Effect of Low Temperature

Soil Shrinkage in cohesive soil, then cracks will be filled with water

during next period of rain.

Water in cracks is frozen due to depressed air temperatures, then a break-up in the soil mass may result.

A temperature potential applied to soil will cause the movement of

soil moisture from warmer regions to colder ones, thus changing the moisture distribution in the soil.

Colder region is then exposed to freezing temperatures, the

migrating moisture acts as a supply, which causes the growth of ice lenses under the pavement and may contribute to frost damage.

Effect of Rainfall
Rain has influence on the stability and strength of the supporting

medium because it affects the moisture content of the subgrade and

sub-base. Also affects

The elevation of the water table,

The intensity of frost action, erosion, pumping and infiltration, Loss of strength during thaw period.

Effect of Rainfall
Moisture content will also vary with rainfall, this will in turn affect

the expansion and contraction of the pavement.

Long periods of rainfall of low intensity can be more adverse than short periods of high intensity.

Because the amount of moisture absorbed by the soil is greatest

under the former conditions.

Moisture Condition

Effect of Frost action

It includes both heave and loss of sub grade support during the

frost-melt period.
It may cause a portion of pavement to rise, due to ice crystal formation in a frost susceptible subgrade or base course.

Thawing of the frozen soil and ice crystals during the spring period
may cause pavement damage under loads. This damage usually results in high maintenance costs, requires

heavy loads may prohibited during the critical period.

It will result in economic loss for trucks and aircraft operation during this period.

Cracks From Excessive Pavement Contraction

Effect of Frost action

Frost action can be quite detrimental to pavements and refers to two separate but related processes: Frost heave

An upward movement of the subgrade resulting from the expansion

of accumulated soil moisture as it freezes. Thaw weakening A weakened subgrade condition resulting from soil saturation as ice within the soil melts.

Formation of Ice Lenses in a


Frost Heave

Frost Heave - Locations

Where subgrade change from clean not frost susceptible (NFS) sands to silty frost susceptible materials. Abrupt transitions from cut to fill with groundwater close to the

Where excavation exposes water-bearing strata. Drains, culverts, etc., frequently result in abrupt differential heaving due to different backfill material or compaction and the fact that open buried pipes change the thermal conditions (i.e., remove heat resulting in more frozen soil).

Frost Heave - Factors

Additional factors which will affect the degree of frost susceptibility (or ability of a soil to heave): Rate of heat removal

Temperature gradient
Mobility of water (e.g., permeability of soil) Depth of water table Soil type and condition (e.g., density, texture, structure, etc.)

Thaw Weakening
Thawing is essentially the melting of ice contained within the subgrade. As the ice melts and turns to liquid it cannot drain out of the soil

fast enough and thus the subgrade becomes substantially weaker

(less stiff) and tends to lose bearing capacity. Therefore, loading that would not normally damage a given

pavement may be quite detrimental during thaw periods (e.g.,

spring thaw).

Typical pavement deflections illustrating seasonal pavement strength changes

Freeze-thaw damage

Thawing process
Thawing can proceed from the top downward, or from the bottom upward, or both. It depends mainly on the pavement surface temperature.

During a sudden spring thaw, melting will proceed almost entirely

from the surface downward. This type of thawing leads to extremely poor drainage conditions. The frozen soil beneath the thawed layer can trap the water released by the melting ice lenses so that lateral and surface drainage are the only paths the water can take.

Effect of Thawing
Tabor (1930) also noted an added effect:

"The effects of refreezing after a thaw are also accentuated by the

fact that the first freeze leaves the soil in a more or less loosened or expanded condition." This observation shows that the reduced density of base or subgrade materials helps to

explain the long recovery period for material stiffness or

strength following thawing, and refreezing following an initial thaw can create the potential for greater weakening when the "final" thaw does occur.

Estimation the depth of frost penetration

Modified Berggren Formula Stefan Formula

Stefan Formula
the first studies of freeze/thaw depth were made by Josef Stefan in 1889, in connection with ice formation and melting in the Polar oceans.

It is assumed that the latent heat of soil moisture is the only heat
that must be removed when freezing the soil. Thus, thermal energy stored as volumetric heat and released as soil-

temperatures drop to and below freezing is not considered. Because

volumetric heat is neglected,

Stefan Formula
the Stefan Formula tends to overestimate frost depth in temperate zones . The latent heat supplied by the soil moisture as it freezes a depth dx

in time dt = rate at which heat is conducted to the ground surface.

Heat removal process can be represented by (heat released by freezing a layer of soil dx thick in time dt)

Stefan Formula

Stefan Formula
(heat conducted through frozen layer) and Q1 = Q2 so

by integrating and solving for x,

is in units of F hr and is called surface freezing index. The freezing index is normally expressed as F days. Thus, rewrite the equation and add an "n" factor which results in the Stefan formula:

Modified Berggren Formula

The modified Berggren formula was developed in the early 1950s to address the shortcomings of the Stefan formula. The modified Berggren formula assumes that the soil is a semi-

infinite mass with uniform properties and existing initially at a

uniform temperature (Ti). It is further assumed that surface temperature is suddenly changed

from Ti to Ts (below freezing).

Modified Berggren Formula

The modified Berggren formula is simply the Stefan formula corrected for the effects of temperature changes in the soil mass:

X = depth of freeze or thaw, (ft)) = dimensionless coefficient which takes into consideration the effect of temperature changes in the soil mass (i.e., a fudge factor). Corrects the Stefan formula for the neglected effects of volumetric heats (accounts for "sensible heat" changes)

Modified Berggren Formula

K avg = thermal conductivity of soil, average of frozen and unfrozen (BTU/hr ft F) n = conversion factor for air freezing (or thawing) index to

surface freezing (or thawing) index

FI TI L = air freezing index (F days) = air thawing index (F days) = latent heat (BTU/ft3) 1 BTU = 1 055.05585 joules

Determination of
l can be determined by chart based on inputs of a (thermal ratio) and m (fusion parameter). = f (FI (or TI), mean annual air or ground temperature,

thermal properties of soil)

= f(m , a) and can be read from chart C L = fusion parameter = average volumetric heat capacity of a soil (BTU/ft3 F) = latent heat (BTU/ft3)

Determination of

- Ts| =

surface freezing (or thawing) index, nFI (or nTI)

divided by length of freezing (or thawing) season. Represents temperature differential between average surface temperature and

32 F taken over the entire freeze (or thaw) season.

= d = length of freezing or thawing duration.

For example, if the winter freezing season is December through

February, then the duration of freezing (d) equals about 90 days.

Determination of
Tf Ts = 32 F = average surface temperature for the freezing (or thawing) period

T |T T f|

= thermal ratio
= average annual air or ground temperature = represents the amount that the mean annual temperature exceeds (or is less than) the freezing point of the soil moisture (assumed to be 32 F).

Coefficient in the Modified Berggren Formula.

Pictorial representation of variables involved with l

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