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Shear Strength

of Soils

Duration: 17 min: 04 sec

N. Sivakugan 1
Shear failure
Soils generally fail in shear

embankment

strip footing

resistance

At failure, shear stress along the failure

surface reaches the shear strength.
Shear failure

failure
surface
The soil grains slide
over each other along
the failure surface.

No crushing of
individual grains.

3
Shear failure

τ
σ

At failure, shear stress along the failure

surface (τ ) reaches the shear strength
(τ f). 4
Mohr-Coulomb Failure Criterion

τ f = c + σ tan φ
e lo p e φ
re env
failu
friction
cohesio
n τ f
angle
c
σ
σ
τ f is the maximum shear stress the soil can take
without failure, under normal stress of σ . 5
Mohr-Coulomb Failure Criterion
Shear strength consists of two components:
cohesive and frictional.
τ

τ
τ f = c + σ f tan φ
f σ f tan frictional
φ
φ sive nt
compone
c e nt
c h
co pone
com
σ σ
f

6
c and φ are measures of shear
strength.
Higher the values, higher the shear
strength.
Mohr Circles & Failure Envelope

Y
X X
Y Soil elements at
σ
different locations
X ~ failure

Y ~ stable
Mohr Circles & Failure Envelope
The soil element does not fail if
the Mohr circle is contained
within the envelope

GL

σσ
Yc σ
c σ σ c+∆

Initially, Mohr circle is a point c σ
σ
Mohr Circles & Failure Envelope
circle becomes larger…

GL

σσ
Yc σ
c σ
c

.. and finally failure occurs

when Mohr circle touches the
envelope
Orientation of Failure Plane
Failure plane
Y oriented at 45 +
φ /2 to horizontal
45 + φ /2
GL
45 +
φ /2

σσ φ
Yc σ 90+
φ
c σ σ c+∆
c σ
Mohr circles in terms of σ & σ ’
σ σ v’ u
v
σ σ
= +
X X h
X u
h ’

effective stresses
total stresses

σ h σ v’ σ σ
’ h
u v
Envelopes in terms of σ & σ ’
Identical specimens
initially subjected to
different isotropic

stresses (σ c) and then
σ σσc f

σ σ c
c
uf
Initially… Failure

c,
φ
in terms of σ
At failure,

σ 3 = σ c; σ =
1
c’, φ ’
σ c+∆ σ f
in terms of
σ 3’ = σ 3 – u f ; σ 1’ = σ 1 σ ’
- uf
Triaxial Test Apparatus
piston (to apply deviatoric stress)

failure plane
O-ring

impervious
membrane
soil sample at
failure
porous
stone
perspex cell

water

cell pressure
pore pressure or
back pressure
pedestal volume change

14
Types of Triaxial Tests
deviatoric stress
(∆ σ )

cell pressure σ c

yes no yes no

Consolidated Unconsolidated Drained Undrained

15
Types of Triaxial Tests
Depending on whether drainage is
allowed or not during
 initial isotropic cell pressure
application,
 shearing, and
there are three special types of triaxial
tests that have practical significances.
They are:

Consolidated Drained (CD) test

Consolidated Undrained (CU) test
Unconsolidated Undrained (UU) test

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For unconsolidated
undrained test, in
terms of total
stresses, φ u = 0

Granular soils have For normally consolidated

no cohesion. clays, c’ = 0 & c = 0.
c = 0 & c’= 0
CD, CU and UU Triaxial Tests
Consolidated Drained (CD) Test
 no excess pore pressure throughout
the test
 very slow shearing to avoid build-up of
pore pressure
Can be days!
∴ not desirable

 gives c’ and φ ’

Use c’ and φ ’ for analysing fully drained

situations (e.g., long term stability,

18
CD, CU and UU Triaxial Tests
Consolidated Undrained (CU) Test
 pore pressure develops during shear
Measure 
σ’
 gives c’ and φ ’

 faster than CD (∴ preferred way to find c’

and φ ’)

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CD, CU and UU Triaxial Tests
Unconsolidated Undrained (UU) Test
 pore pressure develops during shear
Not measured = 0; i.e., failure envelope
∴σ ’ is horizontal
unknown
 analyse in terms of σ  gives cu
and φ u
 very quick test

Use cu and φ u for analysing undrained

situations (e.g., short term stability,

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σ 1- σ 3 Relation at Failure
σ 1

X σ 3

σ σ
3 1

σ 1 = σ 3 tan (45 + φ / 2) + 2c tan( 45 + φ / 2)

2

σ 3 = σ 1 tan ( 45 − φ / 2) − 2c tan( 45 − φ / 2)
2
σ Stress Point
v
σ X
h

τ t stress point
stress point

(σ v-
σ h)/2
σ σ σ s
v
(σ vh+σ h)
/2 σv −σh
t=
2
σv +σh
s=
2 22
Stress Path
Stress path
is the locus
τ t of stress
points

Stress path

σ s

Stress path is a convenient way to keep track of the

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Failure Envelopes

τ t failur
e
φ tan-1 (sin φ )

c c cos φ stress path

σ s

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Pore Pressure Parameters

A simple way to estimate the pore

pressure change in undrained
changes ~ after Skempton (1954)

σ 1
∆u = B[ ∆σ 3 + A( ∆σ 1 − ∆σ 3 )]
Y ∆
σ 3
∆u Skempton’s pore pressure
=? parameters A and B
Pore Pressure Parameters
B-parameter

B = f (saturation,..)
For saturated soils, B ≈ 1.

Af = f(OCR)