The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Evaluation of remolded shear strength and sensitivity of soft clay using full flow penetrometers

TitleEvaluation of remolded shear strength and sensitivity of soft clay using full flow penetrometers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsYafrate N, Dejong JT, Degroot DJ, Randolph MF
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Start Page1179
Date Published09/2009
KeywordsClays, Drainage soft soils, In situ tests, Sediments

The undrained remolded shear strength of soft clays is of importance in geosystem design, particularly for offshore structures. Common methods to estimate remolded shear strength, such as correlations with cone penetration data, direct measurement with an in situ field vane shear device, and laboratory measurements, produce varied results and can be particularly costly and time consuming. Full-flow penetrometers (T-bar and Ball) provide an alternative rapid method to estimate remolded shear strength and soil sensitivity through remolding soil by repeated cycling of the penetrometer up and down over a given depth interval. The cyclic penetration resistance degradation curve inherently contains information regarding remolded strength and sensitivity. The objective of this paper is to assess the ability of full-flow penetrometers to predict remolded strength and soil sensitivity, and to develop a suite of predictive correlations in which these properties can be estimated in the absence of complementary laboratory or in situ test data. To accomplish this, full-flow penetration profiles and cyclic tests were performed at five well characterized soft clay sites, which together represent the broad range of soils in which the penetrometers will be often used. A previously developed model for the reduction in penetration resistance with cycling is modified to predict the entire degradation curve, including the remolded penetration resistance using only measurements obtained during initial penetrometer penetration and extraction. Using field vane shear strength as the reference measurement, correlations are developed to predict soil sensitivity and remolded shear strength based solely on full-flow penetrometer data, which is particularly useful in site investigation programs where site specific data are not yet available or are sparse. Finally, the usefulness of these relationships is demonstrated by implementing them for two additional soft clay sites.