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Research Report

on
Performance Evaluation of Geosynthetic Reinforced Unpaved Roads
(CIST Phase III/CIST0026/2012-2013)

Submitted to:

CiSTUP
Indian Institute of Science
Bangalore 560 012

Investigator:
Prof. Gali Madhavi Latha

Department of Civil Engineering


Indian Institute of Science
Bangalore 12

APRIL 2013

Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transport and Urban


Planning
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012

FORMAT FOR PROJECT REPORT

1. Title of the Project: Performance Evaluation of Geosynthetic Reinforced


Unpaved Roads

2. Scheme Code No: CIST0026


3. Principal Investigator-Name & Department.
Gali Madhavi Latha
Department of Civil Engineering
Indian Institute of Science

Co-Investigator (If any)-Name & Department.- Nil

4. Date of Commencement 01-04-2011


Project Duration Two Years
Ending Date of the Project 31-03-2013

5. Discussion/Summary of work carried out (Explaining Deliverables,


Implementation etc. with List)
ENCLOSED

Performance evaluation of geosynthetic reinforced unpaved roads


2

SPECIFIC AIM/ OBJECTIVE OF THE PROJECT:


To understand the beneficial effects of geosynthetics in reinforcing the unpaved roads
through laboratory experiments, field studies and numerical simulations
SUMMARY OF WORK CARRIED OUT:
Performance of geosynthetic reinforced unpaved roads was studied through
systematic series of experiments and numerical simulations. Laboratory CBR
(California Bearing Ratio) tests on reinforced and unreinforced soil-aggregate systems
were carried out, varying the type, quantity, form and location of reinforcement, water
content of the soil and thickness of aggregate layer to understand the effect of all
these parameters on the bearing resistance of soil-aggregate systems. Large scale
cyclic triaxial tests were carried out on reinforced subgrade materials to understand
the influence of reinforcement on the cyclic loading response of the subgrades. Field
tests with a vehicle passing over the unreinforced and reinforced unpaved roads were
carried out to compare the relative performance and the traffic benefit ratio of various
geosynthetic reinforced roads. Numerical simulations of geosynthetic reinforced
unpaved roads were carried out in FLAC (Fast Lagrangian Analysis of Continuum)
program and parametric studies were carried out to bring out the effects of different
parameters on the cyclic load bearing capacity of unpaved roads. Finally design
guidelines are given for geosynthetic based on the experimental and numerical studies.

Keywords:
Unpaved roads, geosynthetics, cyclic loading, CBR tests, cyclic triaxial tests, field
tests, numerical analysis
Deliverables
-Bearing resistance of reinforced soil-aggregate systems in terms of load-penetration
response and CBR tables
-Cyclic deformation characteristics of subgrade materials in terms of stress-strain
graphs and modulus tables
-Results from field tests in terms of number of vehicle passes vs. deformation of road
sections and Traffic benefit ratio comparisons
-Results from numerical simulations
-Design guidelines for geosynthetic reinforced unpaved roads

Results, discussion and outcome of the project are presented in following sections in
the order of the deliverables listed above.

CBR TESTS ON REINFORCED SOIL- AGGREGATE SYSTEMS

INTRODUCTION
A systematic series of unsoaked CBR tests were carried out on unreinforced
and reinforced soil-aggregate systems in the conventional CBR mould of 150 mm
internal diameter and 175 mm total height. These tests were carried out as per ASTM
D1883-07. The total height of the prepared soil or soil-aggregate systems was 125
mm in all the cases. A surcharge weight of 5 kg was applied through a steel plate of
50 mm thickness in all the tests. A plunger of 50 mm diameter was used for applying
the load. The resistance offered by the sample to the penetration of the plunger was
measured using a load cell.
MATERIALS USED IN EXPERIMENTS
In these experiments, two types of subgrade soils 1 and 2 (SS1 and SS2) are
used for preparing the soil layer and aggregate (A1) is used as sub-base course. For
filling the soil and aggregates in the mould, modified Proctor compaction effort was
used. Various reinforcing materials used in the experiments are geotextile, strong
geogrid and geonet. Physical and mechanical properties of these materials are
discussed below.
Subgrade Soil SS1
The grain size distribution curve of SS1 soil is shown in Fig. 1. SS1 soil is
classified as clay of low plasticity (CL) according to the Unified Soil Classification
System. Properties of SS1 are given in Table 1. Compaction curves for SS1 soil from
both standard and modified Proctor tests are shown in Fig. 2. The California Bearing
Ratio of the SS1 soil is computed as per ASTM D 1557 07. SS1 soil has unsoaked
and soaked CBR values of 30 % and 19 % respectively corresponding to modified
Proctor effort (optimum moisture content of 12.5 % and maximum dry unit weight of
18.3 kN/m3).The load-penetration curve of the SS1 soil from unsoaked and soaked
CBR tests is shown in Fig. 3. The shear strength properties of the soil were
determined from consolidated undrained (CU) triaxial compression tests on the soil
samples compacted to modified Proctor effort. The stress-strain response of SS1 soil
in CU test at three different confining pressures of 50, 100 and 150 kPa is shown in
Fig. 4. The soil showed effective cohesion of 45 kPa and effective friction angle of
25.5 as determined from CU test.

Fig. 1 Grain size distribution of the subgrade soils used in the experiments

Fig. 2 Compaction curves and zero air void line for subgrade soil 1

Fig. 3 Load-penetration curves from unsoaked and soaked CBR tests on SS1
soil

Fig. 3 Stress-strain response of SS1 soil from consolidated


undrained triaxial compression (CU) test
6

Subgrade Soil 2 (SS2)


The grain size distribution of SS2 soil is shown in Fig. 1. SS2 soil is classified
as clay of low plasticity (CL) according to the Unified Soil Classification System.
SS2 soil showed maximum dry unit weight of 18.24 kN/m3 at an optimum moisture
content of 15.5 % determined from standard Proctor test and the corresponding
compaction curve is shown in Fig. 5. The SS2 soil has an unsoaked CBR value of
19 % corresponding to standard Proctor effort. Properties of SS2 soil are summarized
in Table 1.

Fig. 5 Compaction curve and zero air void line for subgrade soil 2
Table 1 Properties of subgrade soils used in the experiments
Type of Soil
Colour
Specific gravity
Soil classification
Liquid limit, %
Plastic limit, %
Maximum dry unit weight (kN/m3) from standard
Proctor test
Optimum moisture content from standard Proctor
test (%)

SS1
Reddish
Brown
2.7
CL
36
22

SS2
Reddish
Brown
2.71
CL
36
24

17.2

18.24

15.5

15.5

AGGREGATE
Aggregate layer was used to simulate the base/sub-base course layer in the
unpaved road and was placed on top of the subgrade soil in experiments. Three
different types of aggregates (A1, A2 and A3) were used in the experiments and these
were obtained from a nearby quarry. All the aggregates were grey in colour. Major
difference between different types of aggregates is the variation in their grain size
distribution. The following section describes the aggregates used in experiments.
Aggregate 1 (A1)
A1 comprises of aggregates passing through 6.3 mm sieve and retained on
4.75 mm sieve. The grain size distribution curve of this aggregate is shown in Fig. 6.
The specific gravity of A1 type aggregate determined using pycnometer according to
ASTM C 128 -2012 was 2.65. CBR test was performed on this aggregate by filling it
in 5 layers in the CBR mould and it was observed that the aggregate has a CBR value
of 23 %. The maximum unit weight achieved by A1 aggregate during CBR test (at
modified compaction effort) was 16 kN/m3. The load-penetration response from CBR
tests on A1 aggregate is shown in Fig. 7. The irregularities in the load versus
penetration response indicate crushing of the aggregate during the test.
Aggregate 2 (A2)
A2 type of aggregate comprises of aggregates passing through 12.5 mm sieve
and retained on 6.3 mm sieve. The average size of A2 type aggregate is 10 mm. The
grain size distribution curve of this aggregate is shown in Fig. 7. This aggregate has a
specific gravity of 2.67. Photograph of A1 and A2 type aggregates is shown in Fig. 8.

Fig. 6 Grain size distribution of A1 and A2 type aggregates

Fig. 7 Load-penetration response for A1 aggregate from CBR test

Fig. 8 Photograph of A1 and A2 type aggregates (equal weight samples)


Aggregate 3 (A3)
Both A1 and A2 type of aggregates are clean aggregates without fines.
Ministry of Rural Road Development (MRRD), Specification for Rural Roads, India,
2004 has given three gradations for selection of material for construction of granular
sub-base or base course for rural roads. A3 aggregate corresponds to the Gradation
III among the MRRD specified gradations. A3 is a mixture of aggregates and
granular fines of different sizes, obtained by mechanical mixing of materials of
different gradation. Fig. 9 shows the grain size distribution of selected gradation for
A3 along with the upper and lower limits prescribed by MRRD for Gradation III.
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Photograph of granular materials of various size ranges which are mechanically


blended to obtain the selected gradation is shown in Fig. 10.

Fig. 9 Grain size distribution of A3 type aggregate

Fig. 10 Photograph of granular materials of various sizes blended


to obtain A3 type aggregate (equal weight samples)
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The maximum dry unit weight achieved by A3 aggregate using wet method
was 20.6 kN/m3 (bulk unit weight of 21.96 kN/m3 ) at a water content of 6.7 %. The
maximum dry unit weight so achieved was 20.5 kN/m3 (bulk unit weight of 21.4
kN/m3) at a water content of 4.5 %.
Geotextile
The geotextile used in the experiments is a polypropylene multifilament
woven fabric. The individual multifilaments are woven together in such a manner so
as to provide dimensional stability relative to each other. The properties of geotextile
are given in Table 2. Ultimate tensile strength of the geotextile was determined by the
wide-width strip method as per ASTM D 4595 01. The geotextile has an ultimate
tensile strength of 55.16 kN/m in the warp direction. The mobilized tensile strength of
the geotextile material corresponding to 2% strain is 3.02 kN/m, and the
corresponding secant modulus is calculated as 151 kN/m. The load-elongation
response of the geotextile in the warp direction is shown in Fig.11.
Table 2 Properties of the geotextile
Breaking strength:

Elongation at break

warp

55.16 kN/m

weft

46.0 kN/m

warp

38%

weft

21.3%

Thickness

1 mm

Mass per unit area

230 gm/m2

Fig. 11 Load elongation response of the geotextile from wide-width tension test
11

Geogrids
Two varieties of biaxial geogrids (biaxially oriented integrally extruded
geogrids with rigid junctions and stiff ribs), made of polypropylene (PP) are used in
the present study. They are designated as strong biaxial geogrid (SG) and weak
biaxial geogrid (WG) in this thesis based on their ultimate tensile strength. Fig. 12
shows the nomenclature used to describe the dimensional details of a typical biaxial
geogrid. Dimensions of both the biaxial geogrids as per the nomenclature used in Fig.
12 are presented in Table 3. The tensile properties of the geogrids were obtained from
standard multi-rib tension test (as per ASTM: D 6637-01). The tensile strength of both
these biaxial geogrids with respect to strain as obtained from standard multi-rib
tension test is presented in Fig. 13.

Fig. 12 Dimensional details of bi-axial geogrid

Fig. 13 Load elongation response of strong and weak geogrids


from multi-rib tension test
12

Table 3 Dimensions of bi-axial geogrids


AL

AT

WLR

WTR

tJ

tLR

tTR

Unit weight
(Kg/m2)

SG

30

30

2.6

3.0

5.8

2.2

1.4

0.53

WG

35

35

2.3

3.0

4.1

1.4

1.1

0.22

Geonet
The geonet (GN) used in the tests is an extruded polymeric flexible mesh with
square openings of size 1.5 mm 1.5 mm, typically used for insect screens and is gray
in colour. The load elongation response of the geonet obtained from wide width
tension test is shown in Fig. 14. The geonet has sustained a peak tensile load of 7.6
kN/m at 2.4 % strain at which it failed. Table 4 summarizes the properties of various
geosynthetic materials used in experiments.

Fig. 14 Load elongation response of geonet


Table 4 Properties of different geosynthetics used
Property
Aperture size (mm)
Ultimate tensile strength
(kN/m)
Yield strain, %
Secant modulus at 2%
strain (kN/m)
Mass per unit area (g/m2)

Geotextile

WG

SG

Geonet

3535

3030

1.51.5

55.16

26.4

38.1

7.6

38

16.50

16.7

2.40

151

219

588

319

230

220

530

125
13

EXPERIMENTAL SET-UP
Schematic sketch of the reinforced soil-aggregate system is shown in Fig. 15.
In these experiments, subgrade soil 1 (SS1) is used for preparing the soil layer and the
aggregate 1 (A1) is used as sub-base course. For filling the soil and aggregates in the
mould, modified Proctor compaction effort was used. A total of 52 CBR tests were
conducted under 13 different series and many of them were repeated to check the
repeatability of the test results. Details of different test series are presented in Table 5.
Tests in each series were conducted at four different water contents of the soil layer
i.e., 12.5 % (corresponding to Optimum moisture content), 14.5 %, 16.5 % and
18.5 %.

Fig. 15 Schematic sketch of the reinforced soil-aggregate system


prepared in conventional CBR mould

14

Table 5 Details of different series of CBR tests carried out

Series
No

Description of test series

Notation

Soil alone

Soil and aggregate

SA

Soil and aggregate with geotextile at the


interface

SAGT

Soil and aggregate with geogrid at the


interface

SABG

Soil and aggregate with geonet at the interface SAGN

Soil and aggregate with geotextile and


SAGTBG
geogrid at the interface

Soil and aggregate with geotextile and geonet


SAGTGN
at the interface

Soil and aggregate filled in geocells made of


SAGTGCBG
geogrid with geotextile at the interface

Soil and aggregate filled in geocells made of


SAGTGCGN
geonet with geotextile at the interface

10

11

Schematic
sketch

Soil and aggregate with two layers of geogrid,


one at the interface and the other within the SABG2
aggregate layer
Soil and aggregate with two layers of geonet,
one at the interface and the other within the SAGN2
aggregate layer

12

Soil and aggregate filled in geocells made of


geogrid with geogrid at the interface

SABGGCBG

13

Soil and aggregate filled in geocells made of


geonet with geonet at the interface

SAGNGCGN

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


California Bearing Ratio
Plunger of 50 mm diameter was made to penetrate the unreinforced and
reinforced soil-aggregate systems at a uniform rate of 1.25 mm/ min. The load
penetration readings were recorded at regular intervals and based on this the CBR
15

value of the unreinforced and reinforced systems were estimated. In case of soil alone
systems the CBR value at 2.5 mm penetration was higher than that at 5 mm
penetration whereas for unreinforced and reinforced soil-aggregate systems, the CBR
at 5 mm penetration was higher than that at 2.5 mm penetration CBR values of
various systems computed at four different water contents are summarized in Table 6.
Table 6 CBR values for various soil-aggregate systems
CBR values (%) at
water content %
OMC
14.50
16.50

18.50

29.80

10.40

2.70

1.30

SA

36.70

13.20

5.60

2.80

SAGT

40.20

14.60

6.50

3.90

SAGTBG

47.60

16.90

8.40

4.60

SAGTGN

42.70

15.40

7.40

3.90

SAGN

37.70

13.40

6.50

3.70

SAGN2

40.20

14.90

7.40

3.90

SAGNGCGN

32.70

11.90

6.90

3.70

SAGTGCBG

50.60

17.90

8.70

4.70

SABG

37.70

13.50

8.30

4.71

SABG2

54.10

20.70

9.20

5.40

SABGGCBG

60.50

23.30

10.20

5.60

SAGTGCGN

33.20

12.60

6.50

3.60

Test Series

CBR Improvement Factor


To quantify the improvement in the CBR value of the soil-aggregate systems
due to reinforcement, a dimensionless parameter called Improvement Factor, F is
introduced. The CBR improvement factor F is defined as the ratio of the CBR of the
reinforced soil-aggregate system to that of the unreinforced soil-aggregate system.
F = CBRr / CBRu

(1)

Where CBRr is the CBR value of the reinforced soil-aggregate system and CBRu is
the CBR value of the unreinforced soil-aggregate system at the same water content
and density.
CBR improvement factor for various reinforced systems was estimated and
the values are summarized in Table 7. An improvement factor of 1 implies that there
is no extra benefit in using geosynthetic reinforcement, whereas a value less than 1
indicates that the performance of reinforced system is inferior compared to the
unreinforced system. From Table 7 it is observed that the improvement factors
increase with water content for all the cases. Improvement factors below 1 for soilaggregate systems reinforced by geonets in geocell form at lower water contents
16

showed that these systems had an inferior performance compared to the unreinforced
systems. The reason for this low improvement factor could be attributed to the
rupture of geocells in these cases.
Table 7 Improvement factors for various reinforced soil-aggregate systems
Test Series

Improvement factor at water content %


OMC
14.5
16.5
18.5

SAGT

1.10

1.11

1.16

1.39

SAGTBG

1.30

1.28

1.50

1.64

SAGTGN

1.16

1.17

1.32

1.39

SAGN

1.03

1.02

1.16

1.32

SAGN2

1.10

1.13

1.32

1.39

SAGNGCGN

0.89

0.90

1.23

1.32

SAGTGCBG

1.38

1.36

1.55

1.68

SABG

1.03

1.02

1.48

1.68

SABG2

1.47

1.57

1.64

1.93

SABGGCBG

1.65

1.77

1.82

2.00

SAGTGCGN

0.90

0.95

1.16

1.29

Effect of Water Content


To understand the effect of water content of the subgrade soil on the beneficial
effects of geosynthetic reinforcement, CBR tests were carried out on soil alone,
unreinforced and reinforced soil-aggregate systems by varying the water content of
the underlying soil. Fig. 16 shows the variation in the CBR and improvement factor
for geotextile reinforced systems with respect to water content. It was observed that
geotextile reinforced soil-aggregate system had a higher CBR value than unreinforced
system at all water contents. At optimum moisture content, SAGT system had a CBR
value of 40 %. With an increase in water content of 2%, the CBR value of SAGT
system reduced to 14 %, the percentage reduction in CBR value being 65 %. The
improvement factor is high at higher water contents as seen in Fig. 16. This
emphasises the fact that the benefit of geosynthetic reinforcement is more significant
at high water contents of subgrade soil.
The effect of water content on SAGT series is shown in Fig. 17. From the
figure it is seen that, at a penetration of 15 mm, soil-aggregate system reinforced with
geotextile had a load resistance of 13.8 kN at optimum moisture content and only 1.7
kN at a water content of 18.5 %. Similar trend was observed for other series. This
emphasises the fact that the decrease in load carrying capacity of the soil-aggregate
systems with the increase in water content of the subgrade soil follows a nonlinear
relationship. Hence, maintenance of optimum moisture content is very important
during road construction.
17

Fig. 16. Variation of CBR value and improvement factor


with respect to water content

Fig. 17. Load versus penetration response for geotextile


reinforced soil-aggregate systems at various water contents
Effect of Type of Reinforcement
Fig. 18 compares the load penetration response for unreinforced and various
geosynthetic reinforced soil-aggregate systems at optimum moisture content and at a
water content of 18.5 %. Most of the reinforced soil-aggregate systems exhibited
18

better performance compared to unreinforced soil-aggregate system at both the water


contents. However, this difference in performance became evident only after a
penetration of 2 mm. At higher penetration levels, the load-penetration response of
these systems is observed to be certainly better than in the unreinforced systems as
observed in Fig. 18.

Fig. 18 Load-penetration response for unreinforced and planar reinforced soilaggregate systems at OMC and at a water content of 18.5%
The load-penetration response of the SAGN series was found to be on par with
SAGT series at low levels of penetration. For the test series carried out at OMC (Fig.
18a), after a penetration of 5 mm, SAGN exhibited inferior performance even
compared to unreinforced soil-aggregate system because the geonet got punctured
during the test due to its low tensile strength and in this case it was sandwiched
19

between the aggregate layer and stiff soil layer compacted at OMC. At higher water
contents, the soil layer became softer and no puncture was observed in the geonet
layer. Hence, the performance of SAGN series is better when compared to
unreinforced soil-aggregate system at higher water contents as seen in Fig. 18b.
However, at higher water contents, the geonet was getting clogged. The photographs
of the exhumed geonets after the tests are shown in Fig. 19. It is clearly seen in the
figure that the geonet is punctured in the test with OMC and remained intact in tests
with higher water content.

Fig. 19 Photographs of geonet exhumed after the tests


(a) at OMC (b) at a water content of 18.5 %
Since biaxial geogrid and geonet have apertures, there is a possibility of
subgrade soil squeezing into the aggregate layer during loading. This was clearly
observed by exhuming the reinforcing layers after the test. Inclusion of geotextile
layer as a separator can improve the effectiveness of such reinforcements. Hence
experiments were carried out with biaxial geogrid and geonet underlain by geotextile
(SAGTBG and SAGTGN) at all the four water contents. When geotextile was used as
a separator along with biaxial geogrid and geonet, the performance was improved.
Even in the case of SAGTGN series, at low water contents, geonet was punctured
because of its low tensile strength However, because of the reinforcing and
separation action of the geotextile, its performance was far better when compared to
that of the SAGN series, as shown in Fig. 20. The benefit of geosynthetic
reinforcement depends upon its tensile modulus and also on the water content of the
soil subgrade. To quantify the benefit of geosynthetic reinforcement, Koerner (1999)
has used reinforcement ratios. Reinforcement ratio is defined as the ratio of the load
sustained by reinforced system to that sustained by unreinforced system at any
particular level of displacement. Hence, to quantify the benefit of geosynthetic
reinforcement, reinforcement ratios were estimated at different settlements at
optimum moisture content and at 18.5 % water content for SAGT, SABG, SAGN,
SAGTGN and SAGTBG series and are summarised in Table 8. From the table it is
seen that reinforcement ratios are high at higher water contents of the subgrade. A
plot of variation of reinforcement ratio with penetration levels at two different water
contents used in the tests is shown in Fig. 21. Even a weaker reinforcement like
geonet is found to have a reinforcement ratio greater than 1 at higher water contents.
The use of geotextile as a separator for geogrid and geonet reinforced systems was
also found to be effective.
20

Fig. 20 Load-penetration response of unreinforced system and


geonet reinforced system underlain with and without geotextile at OMC
Table 8 Reinforcement ratios for various reinforced soil-aggregate systems
Reinforcement ratio at optimum moisture content
Penetration, mm
Series
2.5

5.0

7.5

10.0

12.5

14.0

SAGT

1.17

1.08

1.05

1.13

1.12

1.18

SAGN

1.02

1.03

0.89

0.93

0.95

1.02

SABG

1.04

1.03

1.03

1.09

1.15

1.22

SAGTGN

1.22

1.18

1.08

1.00

1.00

1.11

SAGTBG

1.39

1.26

1.24

1.22

1.22

1.37

Reinforcement ratio at 18.5 % water content


Penetration, mm
Series
2.5

5.0

7.5

10.0

12.5

15.0

SAGT

1.25

1.39

1.44

1.49

1.58

1.62

SAGN

1.31

1.26

1.41

1.48

1.56

1.62

SABG

1.41

1.70

1.80

1.89

1.85

1.81

SAGTGN

1.28

1.39

1.47

1.67

1.71

1.79

SAGTBG

1.53

1.58

1.84

1.91

2.04

2.10

21

Fig. 21 Reinforcement ratio for reinforced systems at optimum moisture


content and at a moisture content of 18.5 %
Effect of Quantity of Reinforcement
In order to understand the effect of the quantity of reinforcement on the
bearing capacity of reinforced soil-aggregate systems, series of tests were carried out
with a single layer and two layers of biaxial geogrid and geonet. From the test results
summarized in Table 6 it was observed that an increase in the quantity of
reinforcement led to an increase in CBR value at all water contents. However, the
difference was quite significant at lower water contents.
22

Though the use of two layers of reinforcement improved the performance of


soil-aggregate systems significantly when compared to the use of a single layer of
reinforcement, it did not double the bearing resistance when compared to a single
reinforcement layer as shown in Fig. 22. For example, at OMC, at a penetration of 14
mm, the load resistance of a single layer of biaxial geogrid is 13.5 kN whereas that of
two layers of biaxial geogrid is 20.3 kN (Fig. 4.14a). Similarly, in tests with a water
content of 18.5 %, at a penetration of 15 mm, the unreinforced soil-aggregate system
could sustain a load of 1 kN, whereas it could sustain a load of 1.7 kN when
reinforced with a single layer of geonet and 2 kN when reinforced with two layers of
geonet (Fig. 22b). Hence, it can be understood that the beneficial effect of
reinforcement is not directly proportional to the quantity of reinforcement used.

Fig. 22 Effect of quantity of reinforcement on the load-penetration response of


reinforced soil-aggregate systems (a) geogrid reinforcement at OMC (b) geonet
reinforcement at a water content of 18.5%
23

Effect of Form of Reinforcement


For understanding the effect of form of reinforcement on the loadpenetration response, tests were carried out with biaxial geogrid and geonet in planar
and cellular forms. Fig. 23 compares the performance of geosynthetics viz., biaxial
geogrid and geonet in both planar layer and geocell forms at OMC. Fig. 23a compares
the performance of geocells made of biaxial geogrid, with a geotextile or biaxial
geogrid layer at the base, at OMC. From the figure, it is seen that the geocells
perform better compared to the single planar layer of reinforcement and similar trend
is followed at all the water contents. Geocells with geogrid basal layer are more
effective when compared to geotextile basal layer. This is because the geogrid basal
layer is connected to the cells, and hence acts as an integral part of the geocell layer in
providing all-round confinement unlike the geotextile layer, which is not connected to
the geocell layer. At higher water contents, the performance of the geogrid geocell
layer was almost on par with double layer geogrid because the full tensile strength of
the geocell is not mobilized due to the low shear strength of the soil.

Fig. 23 Load-penetration response for soil-aggregate systems


reinforced with biaxial geogrid and geonet in different forms at OMC
24

Fig. 23b summarizes the results obtained from the test series with geonet in
planar and geocell forms at OMC. The bearing resistance of the soil-aggregate system
was the maximum with geocell reinforcement. However, the difference in the
performance of the planar layers and geocells is not as significant as in the case of
biaxial geogrid reinforcement because the reinforcement is very weak and was
ruptured during the tests. Since there is no covering material, the load was directly
applied to the geocell joint and the geonet being weak it, got ruptured at very low
levels of penetration. The geocells were subjected to tearing along the joints, and
rupture initiated at the central portion and propagated outwards, showing the failure of
joints at several places. Exhumed geocells showed damage at many places. The base
geonet got punctured at lower water contents, as explained in earlier sections. The
performance of the geocells was quite similar at all water contents and at higher water
contents the geocells made of geonet were clogged. Photographs of geocells made of
geonet exhumed after the tests are shown in Fig. 24. These photographs clearly show
the rupture of the geocells at low water contents and the clogging of geocells at higher
water contents. Geonet failed to act as a separator and there was some mixing of the
aggregate and soil layers at higher water contents. Tests with geotextile basal layer
showed better performance because it was intact during loading and also acted as a
separator. For reinforcing unpaved roads, stronger grids which do not rupture within
the service load limits should be used.

Fig. 24 Photographs of geocells made of geonet exhumed after the tests at water
contents (a) OMC (b) 14.5 % (c) 16.5 % (d) 18.5 %

25

Effect of Soaking
Soaked CBR tests were carried out on unreinforced and reinforced soilaggregate systems at optimum moisture content to understand the effect of type of
reinforcement on the soaked CBR value. For this purpose, a total of 5 tests were
carried out viz., S, SA, SAGT, SABG and SAGN under soaked condition. The results
of soaked CBR tests carried out on unreinforced and reinforced soil-aggregate
systems are presented in Fig. 25. It is clear that the bearing resistance of soaked test
specimens is less compared to that of unsoaked test specimens. The exhumed geonet
sample after the soaked test on soil-aggregate reinforced with geonet (SAGN) showed
a rupture similar to the unsoaked test on an identical system. The increasing order of
performance of the various soaked tests were SAGN, SAGT & SABG. The
performance of SABG in soaked CBR test is almost similar to that of SAGT. The
order of performance improvement has not differed much in soaked and unsoaked
CBR tests.

Fig. 25 Load-penetration response for unreinforced and


reinforced soil-aggregate systems under soaked condition

26

CYCLIC TRIAXIAL TESTS ON REINFORCED GRANULAR SUBBASE


INTRODUCTION
Experimental results from static and cyclic triaxial tests carried out on large
diameter granular sub-base samples reinforced with geosynthetics are presented in
this section.
EXPERIMENTAL SET-UP
The cyclic triaxial test set up used in this study is designed to be used with a
triaxial cell with a maximum working pressure of 1000 kPa for specimens with
diameter range of 38-300 mm. It is provided with a 100 kN load frame fitted with a
cyclic actuator which can apply cyclic loading up to 10 Hz frequency. Photograph of
the cyclic triaxial testing facility is shown in Fig. 26. The basic system consists of the
following components:
a) 100 kN capacity load frame with cyclic actuator
b) Hydraulic power pack for the load frame
c) Dynamic control system for data acquisition and control
d) 1000 cc/ 2 MPa advanced pressure and volume controller
e) Pneumatic regulator for cell pressure
f) Triaxial cell

Fig. 26 Cyclic triaxial set up used


27

Sample Preparation and Testing


The triaxial specimen of 300 mm diameter and 600 mm height is prepared by
the compaction of the granular material inside the split mould placed around the cell
base. After placing the porous plate on the cell base, the 2 mm thick latex membrane
is fitted to the triaxial cell base pedestal using clamps. The split mould is placed over
the cell base and the membrane is stretched such that it fits the inner side of the split
mould. Once the membrane is fully stretched it is held tightly to the walls of the split
mould using clamps. Then the granular material is placed in layers and compacted.
To achieve the maximum density (at standard compaction effort), if the sample is
compacted in 5 layers, each layer is to be given 245 blows (using a rammer of 4.7 kg
falling from a height of 450 mm). For static and cyclic triaxial tests A3 type aggregate
was used. 1/4th of the standard compaction effort was applied while preparing the
sample. The compacted sample had a bulk unit weight of 19 0.5 kN/m3 at a water
content of 4.50.5 %. The sample was prepared in five equal lifts and compaction
was done using rammer of 4.7 kg weight falling from a height of 450 mm. The triaxial
cell with sample inside is shown in Fig. 27b.

Fig. 27 Photograph of (a) sample prepared within the membrane and


(b) triaxial cell with sample inside
The reinforcing materials used in the triaxial tests were strong biaxial
geogrid and geocell. The strong geogrid was cut into circular discs of 25 mm
diameter and these discs were used as planar reinforcing layers. The diameter of the
geogrid reinforcement was kept slightly less than the diameter of the sample to avoid
puncture of the membrane due to the sharp edges of the geogrid.
The geocell reinforcement was made by stitching the geotextile into circular
shape, forming a geocell of 298 mm diameter. A total of 11 tests were carried out on
28

unsaturated large diameter granular sub-base samples out of which 6 were static tests
and 5 were cyclic tests. All the tests were carried out at a confining pressure of 50
kPa. Details of the experiments carried out are summarised in Table 9.
Table 9 Details of large diameter triaxial tests carried out
Type of the test
Unreinforced (static & cyclic)
2 layers of strong geogrid (static & cyclic)
3 layers of strong geogrid (static & cyclic)
4 layers of strong geogrid (static & cyclic)
5 layers of strong geogrid (static)
Geocell enclosed sample (static & cyclic)

Notation
UR
SG-2
SG-3
SG-4
SG-5
GC

Static unconsolidated undrained (UU) triaxial tests were carried out on


unreinforced and strong geogrid reinforced large diameter triaxial samples. Multiple
layers of geogrid reinforcement were placed in between and the stress-strain
responses were compared. The arrangement of geogrid reinforcement in the different
tests is shown in Fig. 28. For constructing sections reinforced with 4 layers of
reinforcement, the sample was prepared in 4 lifts instead of 5 lifts to avoid
reinforcement slippage. Unconsolidated undrained test was also carried out on
geocell enclosed granular sub-bases. In all the tests, the loading was done at a strain
rate of 0.5 mm/min and the stress strain plots are compared.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
Static Triaxial Tests
The stress-strain curve from static triaxial tests (unconsolidated undrained
tests) is compared to understand the relative improvement in stress-strain behaviour
with reinforcement. Fig. 28 compares the deviator stress versus axial strain for the
unreinforced and geogrid reinforced systems. From the figure it is seen that the use of
geogrid reinforcement has improved the peak deviatoric stress of the granular material.
When the number of layers of reinforcement is increased, the maximum deviatoric
stress measured for the sample also increased as expected. However, the quantitative
improvement in the maximum deviatoric stress observed within the test limits has not
proportionately increased with the quantity of reinforcement. The configuration of
two layers of geogrid reinforcement has given the maximum benefit to the quantity of
reinforcement used. With the increase in quantity of reinforcement, the increase in the
peak stress sustained decreased. It is also observed from the figure that the
unreinforced system and systems reinforced with 2 layer and 3 layers of geogrid
reached the ultimate axial stress at 4.5%, 7% and 9% axial strain respectively,
whereas the systems reinforced with 4 or 5 layers of geogrid reinforcement did not
reach the ultimate stress within the test limits.

29

Fig. 28 Deviator stress versus axial strain for unreinforced


and geogrid reinforced granular sub-bases
The geocell reinforcement exhibited an inferior performance at low levels of
strain as seen in Fig. 29. The beneficial effect of geocell reinforcement was evident
only after a strain level of 2%. Though the parent material used for making geocell
has a high tensile strength of 55 kN/m, the performance of geocell reinforced samples
depend upon its seam strength, which is low. The list of various systems in the
increasing order of peak deviatoric stress is UR, SG-2, GC, SG-3, SG-4 and SG-5.

Fig. 29 Deviator stress versus axial strain for unreinforced


and geocell enclosed granular sub-bases
30

The improvement in performance by geosynthetic reinforcement is quantified


in terms of reinforcement ratio, which is defined as the ratio of the deviator stress of
reinforced system to that of unreinforced systems at any particular strain level. Fig.
30 shows the reinforcement ratio for the various geogrid reinforced systems at varying
levels of strain. From the figure it is seen that for all the reinforced systems, the
reinforcement ratio has increased with the axial strain.

Fig. 30 Reinforcement ratio for different geogrid reinforced systems


Cyclic Triaxial Tests
Displacement controlled cyclic triaxial tests were carried out on unreinforced
and reinforced granular sub-base. Fig. 31 shows the variation of deviatoric stress and
pore water pressure with number of cycles in a typical test. The slope of the secant
line connecting the extreme points on the hysteresis loop is the dynamic youngs
modulus, Edyn and is defined as follows:

Edyn = d
(2)

where d is the deviatoric stress at extreme points of hysteresis loop and is


the amplitude of the applied axial strain.

31

Fig. 31Typical measurements during strain controlled cyclic triaxial test


Variation of the dynamic modulus with respect to the number of cycles for
unreinforced and reinforced granular sub-bases is shown in Fig. 31 and Fig. 33. All
32

the system showed higher modulus in the initial cycles (up to 2000) after which the
modulus dropped drastically. From the figures it is seen that the reinforced systems
had higher modulus compared to unreinforced systems. Among the reinforced
systems, geocell reinforced system has the least modulus. The 2 and 3 layer geogrid
reinforced systems had high modulus in comparison to 4 layer geogrid reinforced
system.

Fig. 31 Variation of dynamic modulus with respect to number of cycles


for unreinforced and geogrid reinforced samples

Fig. 32 Variation of dynamic modulus with respect to number of cycles


for unreinforced and geocell reinforced samples
33

FIELD TESTS ON REINFORCED UNPAVED ROAD SECTIONS


INTRODUCTION
The objective of field tests is to understand the performance of unpaved low
volume roads constructed over weak subgrade using different geosynthetic
reinforcements. The relative advantages of different reinforcing materials placed at
the interface of subgrade and base course in terms of increase in load carrying
capacity and reduction in rut depth are studied through systematic field experiments.
The experimental program consisted of total seven field tests at the identified location
in the campus of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The first test was conducted
on unreinforced unpaved test section. Remaining tests were conducted on test sections
reinforced with single or multiple layers of geosynthetics such as geotextile, biaxial
geogrid, uniaxial geogrid and a layer of geocells placed at the interface of the
subgrade and aggregate base. The test sections were subjected to moving vehicle load
and the rut depths were measured at specific grid points with increasing number of
cycles up to a maximum of 250 passes. The results are analyzed to compare the
relative efficiency of various reinforcement layers in reducing the formation of rut in
unpaved roads.
MATERIALS AND TESTING
The site chosen for constructing the model road section measured 2 m 1 m.
The soil at this location was never subjected to any building load in past and hence
thought to be ideal for simulating the condition of a newly constructed forest road or a
village road.
Subgrade Soil
The Subgrade Soil, which was the natural soil available at site, was reddish
brown in colour. The in-situ bulk unit weight of the soil was 18 kN/m3 and the natural
water content in dry season was around 7.5 %. But in order to simulate the rainy
season, which is the worst condition for trafficking, the top 10 cm thickness of soil
was mixed with excess amount of water to make it slushy. The average bulk unit
weight after mixing water was found to be 17 kN/m3 and the water content was 30 %.
The Specific gravity of the subgrade soil was found using density bottle tests and the
average value was found to be 2.61. The distribution of different grain sizes in the
subgrade soil was determined using sieve analysis and hydrometer tests. The soil can
be classified as Sandy Clay with letter symbols SC. The Maximum Dry Density
(MDD) and the Optimum Moisture Content (OMC) of the soil were determined using
standard proctor compaction test were found to be 1817 kg/m3 and 13% respectively.
The undrained cohesive strength (cu) of the soil was determined from laboratory vane
shear apparatus. The cu value for the undisturbed soil sample taken directly from the
in-situ ground without mixing water was found to be 40 kPa. The cu value for the
prepared subgrade after adding water and mixing was found to be 12 kPa. These
values were average values for three different samples taken at three different sections
along the length of the road with only 5% variation in values at different sections.
CBR tests was conducted on the subgrade soil sample prepared to represent the field
density and water content. The unsoaked CBR at 2.5 mm penetration for original
ground was calculated as 22% whereas for the prepared subgrade, it was around 1%.
34

Aggregate
Grey coloured stone chips obtained from a near-by quarry were used as the base
course aggregate for the tests. The average size of the aggregate was 12 mm. An
aggregate layer of 10 cm thickness was placed directly over the subgrade soil in case
of unreinforced test sections or over the geosynthetic layer in case of reinforced test
sections. The unit weight of aggregate layer was maintained at 13 kN/m3 for all tests.
Surface Course
A leveled surface course layer of 5 cm thickness was placed above the base course
aggregate for better rideability of vehicle in experiments. The surface course layer
was prepared by placing in-situ dry soil and then rolling with sufficient quantity of
water to avoid dust and ravelling when a vehicle passes over it.
Reinforcing Materials
Three different types of geosynthetics, namely, a woven geotextile, a biaxial geogrid
and a uniaxial geogrid were used in different reinforced test sections. Two tests were
conducted with geocell layer reinforcement. In these tests, geocell layers were formed
at site using biaxial geogrid. In one test, tyre shreds were used as reinforcing layer.
Geotextile
The woven geotextile used in experiments is white in colour with negligible pore size
of <0.075 mm. The geotextile is made of polypropylene and the ultimate tensile
strength is 55 kN/m at an axial strain of 38%.
Biaxial Geogrid
The biaxial geogrid used in experiments is made from High Density Polyethylene
(HDPE). It is a stiff grid with square openings of size 30 mm 30 mm and the
ultimate tensile strength is 40 kN/m in both longitudinal and transverse directions at
an axial strain of 10%.
Uniaxial Geogrid
The uniaxial geogrid used in experiments is made from high strength polyester yarns
with black PVC coating. It is a stiff grid with rectangular openings of size 220 mm
17 mm and ultimate tensile strength of 60 kN/m in longitudinal direction and 40 kN/m
in transverse direction at an axial strain of 10%.
Loading Vehicle
A 4-stroke, 102 cm3, single cylinder scooter of dimensions 1765 715 1130 mm
with 1235 mm wheel base and ground clearance of 145 mm was used in experiments.
The weight of the vehicle was 106 kg.
CONSTRUCTION OF UNPAVED ROAD SECTIONS
In all these experiments, initially the unpaved road was constructed in stages.
First stage involved the preparation of soil subgrade to the required density and water
content. In the second stage, aggregate layer of 10 cm thickness was prepared to the
required density above the subgrade for unreinforced cases. For reinforced cases,
prior to the placement of aggregate layer, the reinforcing layer was placed above the
35

subgrade. After the base course was placed and leveled, a surface course of 5 cm
thickness was constructed using in-situ dry soil and rolled with sufficient quantity of
water and leveled. These different stages are illustrated in following subsections. The
original soil at the location was mixed with excess amount of water and made slushy
for a depth of 10 cm and leveled. This bed was left as such for at least 24 hours so that
the soil attained uniform consistency. Once the bed was ready, undisturbed tube
samples were taken at three different sections of the soft bed to determine the
placement water content and unit weight. For all the experiments, the water content
and unit weight were maintained as 30% and 17 kN/m3 respectively. Most of the
times, it required 2-3 trials of mixing to achieve these uniform values for all the tests.
For tests involving reinforced road sections, reinforcing layers were placed above the
soft soil subgrade before placing the aggregate base course. In case of geotextile and
geogrids, a geosynthetic layer was cut from the rolls and placed over the test section,
covering the entire test section. The longitudinal direction of geosynthetic layer was
coinciding with the length direction of the road for all the tests to achieve maximum
benefit.
In case of geocell reinforcement, initially a geotextile layer was placed over
the subgrade. A layer of geocells was constructed in diamond pattern at the site to a
size of 2 m 1 m using biaxial geogrid and anchor pins of 6 mm diameter and 10 cm
effective height and placed above the geotextile as shown in Fig. 33. Geotextile layer
was needed for this case to separate the subgrade and base course and to avoid mixing
of layers during vehicle passage. Tests were done with geocell layers of two different
geometries. The area of biaxial geogrid used to prepare the layer of geocell was 5.85
m2 in one case and 2 m2 in the other case.

Fig. 37 Geocell layer constructed in field


The aggregate was placed over this bed directly (in case of unreinforced tests)
or over the geosynthetic layer placed on top of the leveled soil subgrade (in case of
reinforced tests). The total quantity of material required to obtain the desired unit
weight of 13.05 kN/m3 for 10 cm thickness was divided into three portions and after
spreading each portion, it was compacted using a hand roller and leveled. In case of
tests with geocell reinforcement, aggregate was filled in geocells itself at the required
36

density. Care was taken not to fill any geocell to the total height until the adjacent cell
was at least filled to half of the height, to ensure the proper shape of the geocell layer
with aggregate infill. The in-situ dry soil was mixed with 10% water and placed over
the aggregate layer to prepare a comfortable riding surface. The thickness of this layer
was maintained as 5 cm and it was levelled using a drop hammer of 5 kg mass falling
from a height of 450 mm on a square base plate of 150 mm 150 mm in size.
RUT DEPTH
ASTM: E 1703/E 1703M 95, defined rut depth as the maximum measured
perpendicular distance between the bottom surface of the straightedge and the contact
area of the gage with the pavement surface at a specific location. This is shown in Fig.
38. When vehicle is passed over the prepared road surface, the surface gets deformed,
forming ruts. Arrangements were made to measure the rut depth at 11 equally spaced
grid points across the width of the road at three sections spaced uniformly along the
length of the road. The schematic diagram showing the layout of the grid points
marked on the plan of the road section is shown in Fig. 39.

Fig. 38 Rut Depth as defined by ASTM:E 1703/E 1703M 95

Fig. 39 Layout plan of grid points for measuring rut depth


37

Testing Procedure
A scooter of mass 106 kg was driven by a person weighing 55 kg along the
centerline of the finished roadbed. The speed of the vehicle was maintained as 18 to
20 km/hr and the vehicle was passed in one direction only. The rut depths were
measured at all grid points after every 20 passes until 200 passes were completed.
Then it was passed continuously for 50 times more and the final rut depths were noted.
If the vehicle started skidding in any point of time, the test was stopped at that
particular stage and the corresponding number of passes and rut depths were noted.
The testing arrangement is shown in Fig. 40.

Fig. 40 Test arrangement


TEST RESULTS
The test results at Section 1 and Section 3 showed slightly similar responses.
The cross section profile and the rut depth measured at those two sections were almost
more in majority of the cases when compared to Section 2.
Fig. 41 illustrates cross section profile of the road at various sections for
unreinforced road section. At the central portion of the road, the rut depth was the
maximum since the vehicle was passed only at the central 10 cm width of road. When
the vehicle is passed on this section, within 17 passes, a maximum depression of 95,
57 and 132 mm were observed when compared to the initial ground surface in
Sections 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Afterwards, the vehicle started skidding because of
softer slushy subgrade. Hence the test was stopped at 17 vehicle passes. From the
cross section profile it is observed that the central cross section showed a better
response when compared to the other two cross sections. The unreinforced road
section is taken as the Control Section for all the reinforced test sections for
comparing the results.

38

Fig. 41 Cross section profile at various sections for unreinforced road.


In the first reinforced section, only a layer of geotextile was placed at the
interface of subgrade and base course. When this section is tested with moving
vehicle, rut was formed in the central section and the passage of vehicle became
impossible after 100 passes because of skidding.
This test section showed a
maximum depression of 96, 99 and 64 mm when compared to the initial ground
surface in Sections 1, 2 and 3 respectively. In this case, Section 1 and Section 2
showed comparable responses with respect to depression below the initial ground
surface as shown in Fig. 42.

Fig. 42 Cross section profile at various sections for unreinforced road


39

The next test was with biaxial geogrid placed along with the geotextile at the
subgrade and base course interface. This section was stable till 250 passes of the
vehicle, where the experiment was stopped because the rut was stabilized and there
was no visible displacement for increasing number of passes. The cross section profile
of the road for this test is shown in Fig. 43. The maximum depression as observed in
comparison to the initial ground surface after 250 passes were 92, 56 and 90 mm for
Sections 1, 2 and 3 respectively. As seen from Fig. 43, the heave and subsidence
were increasing with the number of passes but they were stabilized at 250 cycles in
this test.

Fig. 43 Cross section profile at various sections for Biaxial Geogrid reinforced road
In the next test, uniaxial geogrid was used along with geotextile for
reinforcing the road section. In this test also, the rut depths were increasing till 250
passes and beyond 250 passes, the increase in deformations were very minimum
hence the test was stopped after 250 passes. The cross section profile for this test is
shown in Fig. 44. This test section showed a depression of 76, 66 and 66 mm when
compared to the initial ground surface in Sections 1, 2 and 3 respectively. The next
two tests consisted of road section reinforced with geocell layer placed at the interface
of soft subgrade and aggregate base along with the geotextile layer. Geotextile layer is
used to perform the function of separator in these tests. In one test, the geocell layer
was formed using 5.85 m2 of biaxial geogrid and 150 connecting pins. The aspect
ratio of geocells for this case was 1. Results from this test are presented in Fig. 45.
Unlike in case of geotextile and biaxial geogrid, in case of road section reinforced
with geocell layer, there was no progressive change in the cross section profile with
the number of passes. The maximum heave and subsidence were observed within 100
passes and afterwards remained constant from 100 passes to 200 passes. This
behaviour is because the geocell layer acts as stiff reinforcing mat for the road and
40

supports the loads. Even the heave and subsidence observed for this case was
relatively small compared to other reinforced sections because geocell layer allows
uniform distribution of loads and reduces differential settlements. The maximum
depression as observed in comparison to the initial ground surface after 200 passes
were 73, 47 and 76 mm for Sections 1, 2 and 3 respectively.

Fig. 44 Cross section profile at various sections for uniaxial geogrid reinforced road

Fig. 45 Cross section profile at various sections for geocell (GC 5.85) reinforced road

41

In the next test, geocell layer was formed using 2 m2 of biaxial geogrid, which
is equivalent to the area of geogrid used in test with planar biaxial geogrid. Fig. 46
shows the cross section profile observed from this test. Even in this case, the
settlement was almost immediate and after that, remained constant with the increase
in number of passes. However, the maximum subsidence observed in this test at the
end of 250 passes was 100, 68 and 82 mm, which is relatively higher than the
previous test with geocell layer made up of 5.85 m2 of geogrid. This is because the
area of biaxial geogrid used for preparing this geocell is very less compared to the
previous test and the aspect ratio is 0.25 for geocells, making it less stiffer compared
to the geocell layer with cells having an aspect ratio of 1.

Fig. 46 Cross section profile at various sections for geocell (GC 2) reinforced section
Comparison of Rut Depth with Number of Passes
When no reinforcing material was used, in the control section, the vehicle was
able to pass only 17 times and thereafter it started skidding. The road is considered as
totally failed at that point. All reinforced test sections performed better than the
control section in terms of sustaining more vehicle passes for the same rut depth. The
test section reinforced with geotextile layer failed at 100 passes of vehicle, whereas all
other sections were in operating condition even after 250 vehicle passes. Comparison
of the performance of unreinforced and geotextile reinforced test sections is shown in
Fig. 47. As observed in the figure, the geotextile was efficient in increasing the
number of vehicle passes at failure to 100 against 17 for control section. As observed
from the figure, in the first and third sections, the rut depth observed for geotextile
reinforced section was significantly less compared to that observed in the control
section. However, in the central section, not much different was observed in the rut
depths.

42

Fig. 47 Comparison of rut depth for geotextile-reinforced road section with the
control section
When the road sections were excavated and seen after the test, there was
mixing of layers and intrusion of aggregate into subgrade observed for the control
section. In case of geotextile-reinforced section, the layers were separate even after
the test, demonstrating the role of geotextile as separator apart from providing
membrane support to the road as shown in Fig. 48. Hence the beneficial effect of the
geotextile layer is seen clearly in terms of arresting the mixing of layers as well as in
increasing the vehicle passes.

(a)

(b)

Fig. 48 Rut formation in the test sections


(a) Unreinforced test section (b) Geotextile-reinforced test section
43

Fig. 49 compares the performance of road section reinforced with geotextile


and biaxial geogrid with the performance of control section. By observing this plot, it
can be understood that the biaxial geogrid is much superior to the geotextile for
reinforcement in unpaved roads. Though the tensile strength of the biaxial geogrid is
less compared to that of the geotextile used in this study, it is proved to perform better
in reducing the rut depths and also in improving the life period of the unpaved road.
The reason for the better performance of biaxial geogrid is the interlocking
mechanism of the geogrid materials, which imparts more stiffness to it. Geogrid also
acts as a separator if the size of the aggregate is more than its opening size. Since the
aggregate size used in this study is smaller than the opening size of the geogrid, a
layer of geotextile was used along with it to act as separator. As observed from this
study, corresponding to 100 passes, the biaxial geogrid reduced the rut depth almost
50% compared to geotextile in Section 2. In sections 1 and 3, the rut depth of
geotextile reinforced section was comparable to that of the biaxial geogrid reinforced
section for the full 100 passes. The reason for this may be due to the fact that these
sections were at 0.25m from the edges; hence the full interlocking mechanism of the
geogrid was not utilized. But due to interlocking mechanism, biaxial geogrid could
provide greater stiffness to the road section and hence sustain the full 250 passes.

Fig. 49 Comparison of rut depth for geotextile-reinforced road section and Biaxial
Geogrid reinforced section with the control section
Fig. 50 compares the results from tests done with biaxial geogrid and geocell layer
made of biaxial geogrid of area 2m2. It should be noted that the quantity of grid used
in both these tests is same, i.e. 2 m2. From Fig. 50, it is observed that the geocell
layer in this case was not much effective in reducing the rut depth, except in Section 1.
The reason for this is the low aspect ratio (0.25) for geocells in the layer. The pocket
size being more, the cells are not effective in holding the aggregate. Whereas the
geogrid layer, being continuous throughout the road section, provided better support
and effective friction development at the interface.
44

Fig. 50 Comparison of performance of biaxial geogrid and geocell layer (Equal


quantity of geogrid used in both the cases)
Comparison of Traffic Benefit Ratio
Perkins (1999) defined TBR as the number of cycles to reach a particular permanent
surface deformation, for a reinforced test section, divided by the number of cycles to
reach this same deformation in an unreinforced test section with the same layer
thicknesses. The TBR values are calculated for different reinforced test sections for
different rut depths and are plotted in Fig. 51. The efficiency of various layers can be
compared from the TBR vs. rut depth plot as below:

For all the sections, the TBR value of geocell layer (5.85 m2) was the highest
among all the reinforcements that have been used. Hence it is the most
efficient reinforcement. The TBR of geocell layer (5.85 m2) at a rut depth of 71
mm is 16.5, whereas that of biaxial geogrid is 6.5. Hence the geocell layer
(GC 5.85) is around 61% more efficient than biaxial geogrid in reducing rut
depth.
The TBR value of shredded tyre layer is greater than that of the geotextile layer.
Hence as far as traffic benefit ratio is compared tyre shreds are a better option
than geotextile. However, in case of tyre shreds, initially the TBR value was
low and started increasing with the passes. The reason for this could be the
initial compression of the shredded tyre. Hence shredded tyre forms more rut in
the Section 1 than unreinforced section.

45

Fig. 51 Traffic Benefit Ratios for different reinforcing layers

46

NUMERICAL SIMULATIONS USING FLAC


INTRODUCTION
Numerical analysis of geosynthetic reinforced unpaved road sections is carried out
using finite difference program FLAC (Fast Lagrangian Analysis of Continua)
Version 6.0
FLAC

FLAC uses an explicit finite difference formulation to find solutions to the dynamic
equations of motion for the specific problem to be analyzed. This process cycle of
FLAC in arriving at a solution to the problem is repeated until force equilibrium is
reached (Fig. 52).

Fig. 52 FLAC calculation cycle (FLAC Manual, 2011)


SIMULATIONS IN FLAC
Behavior of unreinforced and reinforced unpaved road sections with and without
geosynthetic reinforcement subjected to static loads is analyzed in FLAC. The road
section is considered as a two layer system, consisting of a base layer made of sand
resting on a subgrade soil of low bearing capacity. Plane strain analysis is carried out
47

using large strain mode. The concept of using large strain analysis is justified because
the large strain represents the deep ruts that are allowed in unpaved roads. In case of
reinforced road sections, soil-geogrid and geogrid-base contacts are governed by an
interface that has a behavior, elastic perfectly plastic of Mohr-Coulomb. Boundary
conditions of the problem are given in Fig. 53.

Fig. 53 FLAC model for reinforced unpaved road section


Material properties used for numerical analysis are given in Table 10.
Table 7.1 Material properties used in numerical simulations
Subgrade Properties
Unit weight, kN/m3

15.6

Poissons ratio

0.33

Youngs modulus, MPa

10

Undrained Cohesion, kPa

30

Base Properties
Unit weight, kN/m3

22

Poissons ratio

0.25

Youngs modulus, MPa

50
48

Cohesion, kPa

Friction angle, degrees

40

Dilation angle, degrees

20

Reinforcement Properties
Reinforcement material

Weak geogrid

Geonet

Modulus of reinforcement, MPa

183

1151

Thickness, mm

1.1

0.275

Poissons ratio

0.3

0.3

Weak geogrid

Geonet

3.58E+04

3.65E+04

Cohesion, kPa

0.1

21.38

Interface friction angle, Degrees

28

33

Interface Properties
Reinforcement material
Stiffness per unit area k, (kN/m3)

Numerical Analysis with Flac


Grid used for the plane strain analysis in FLAC is shown in Fig. 54.

Fig. 54 Flac grid used for numerical analysis


49

To achieve a rut, downward velocity is imposed to the 4 gridpoints representing the


static wheel load. The geogrid was modeled as a structural beam. The beam adopted
has zero inertia, to characterize the membrane effect of the geogrid.
RESULTS
Results of numerical analysis of two layered unpaved road sections simulated in
FLAC using large strain analyses are shown in Fig. 55. The results presented in Fig.
55 show the load-displacement simulation of the unreinforced, geogrid reinforced and
geonet reinforced road sections. Regarding the improvement in load bearing capacity
of the structure, provided by the reinforcement, and according to the results obtained
with Flac simulations, the improvement is about 120% for geogrid reinforced section
and about 80% for the geonet reinforced section. This demonstrates that the geogrid
reinforcement has a better effect on increasing the load bearing capacity of a twolayer system.
Bearing pressure (kPa)
0

100

200

300

400

500

600

700

0
-2
-4
)
%
( -6
B
/
,
h
t -8
p
e
D
t -10
u
R
d -12
e
zi
l
a -14
m
r
o
N-16

Unreinforced
Weak Geogrid
Geonet

-18
-20

Fig. 55 Load bearing capacity of unreinforced and reinforced unpaved road sections

Parametric Studies
Parametric numerical studies are carried out on the unpaved road section, varying the
stiffness of the reinforcement, number of reinforcing layers and undrained cohesion of
the soil layer below. Results are presented in Figs. 56-58. From these results, it is
clear that the stiffness of the reinforcement has significant effect on the load carrying
capacity of pavement sections. It is the most influencing parameter in the analysis.

50

Fig. 56 Effect of reinforcement stiffness on the maximum tension developed in the


reinforcement

Fig. 57 Effect of undrained cohesion of soil layer on the load bearing ratio

51

Bearing pressure (kPa)


0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

0
-2.5
)
%
( -5
/B
,
-7.5
o
ti
a
R-10
h
t
p
e
D
-12.5
t
u
R
-15

Unreinforced
N=1
N=2
N=3

-17.5
-20

Fig. 58 Effect of number of geogrid layers on the load bearing pressure of the road
section

52

DESIGN GUIDELINES FOR REINFORCED UNPAVED ROAD


SECTIONS
Based on the results of experimental and numerical studies carried out on unpaved
road sections and the materials involved, the following guidelines are arrived at for
their design.

o Geosynthetic reinforcement improves the load resistance of soil-aggregate systems.


The beneficial effect of reinforcement is evident at higher water contents because the
tensile strength of the reinforcement is mobilized better in systems with higher water
contents. Hence geosynthetics can be successfully used in water clogged road sections
for improving the load bearing capacity.
o The improvement in performance is not directly proportional to the tensile strength of
the reinforcing material but is a function of its tensile stiffness. While selecting the
reinforcement, care should be taken to get the right stiffness rather than high ultimate
tensile strength.
o Geocell reinforcement was found to be more effective than planar reinforcement.
Geocells could be conveniently used to derive immediate and long term increase in
load bearing capacities.
o Increasing the quantity of geogrid reinforcement resulted in improvement in stressstrain behaviour but this improvement is not significant beyond certain level (3 layers
of geogrid in this case).
o None of the samples failed during triaxial testing. At the end of cyclic tests, samples
became compact and dense and stood stiff on their own, demonstrating the
effectiveness and sustainability of these materials under cyclic loads.
o The maximum tension in the geogrid continues to increase proportionally with the
increase of the stiffness. Optimal choice of the geogrid depends on the expected
traffic loads and allowable costs.

REFERENCES
1.

Koerner, R. M. (1999). Designing with Geosynthetics. 4th Edition, Prentice


Hall Inc, New Jersey, 761p.

2.

Perkins, S. W. (1999). Mechanical response of geosynthetic-reinforced


flexible pavements. Geosynthetics International, Vol. 6, No. 5, pp. 347-382.

53

LIST OF PUBLICATIONS BASED ON THE STUDY

Journal Publications

Asha M Nair and Madhavi Latha, G. (2011) "Bearing resistance of reinforced


soil-aggregate systems", Ground Improvement, Proceedings of the ICE, Vol.
164, GI2, pp. 83-95.

Asha M Nair and Madhavi Latha, G. (2012) "Taming of large diameter triaxial
setup", Geomechanics and Engineering, Techno Press, Vol. 4, No.4. pp. 251262.

Asha M Nair and Madhavi Latha, G. (2012) "Cyclic loading behaviour of


reinforced soil-aggregate bases, Ground Improvement. Proceedings of the
ICE, Accepted.

International Conference

Asha M. N. and Madhavi Latha G (2012). Strength behaviour of reinforced


soil-aggregate systems under repeated and cyclic loading, ASCE Geotechnical
Special Publication, GeoCongress - 2012, March 25-29, 2012, Oakland, CA,
pp. 1513-1522.

National Conferences

Asha M. N. and Madhavi Latha G (2011). Performance of geosynthetic


reinforced soil aggregate systems under cyclic loading, Proc. of Indian
Geotechnical Conference -2011, Kochi, Vol. 1, pp. 537-540.

Asha M. N. and Madhavi Latha G (2012). Model studies on geosynthetic


reinforced unpaved road sections, Proc. of Indian Geotechnical Conference 2012, Delhi, Vol. 1, pp. 219-222.

54