Edmund Hazell

Doctor of Philosophy, Jesus College, University of Oxford, Trinity Term, 2008

Numerical and experimental studies of shallow cone penetration in clay


The fall-cone test is widely used in geotechnical practice to obtain rapid estimates of the undrained shear strength of cohesive soil, and as an index test to determine the liquid limit. This thesis is concerned with numerical modelling of the penetration of solids by conical indenters, and with interpretation of the numerical results in the context of the fall-cone test. Experimental studies of shallow cone penetration in clay are also reported, with the aim of verifying the numerical predictions. The practical significance of the results, in terms of the interpretation of fall-cone test results, is assessed. Results are reported from finite element analyses with the commercial codes ELFEN and Abaqus, in which an explicit dynamic approach was adopted for analysis of continuous cone indentation. Quasi-static analyses using an elastoplastic Tresca material model are used to obtain bearing capacity factors for shallow cone penetration, taking account of the material displaced, for various cone apex angles and adhesion factors. Further analyses are reported in which a simple extension of the Tresca material model, implemented as a user-defined material subroutine for Abaqus, is used to simulate viscous rate effects (known to be important in cohesive soils). Some analyses with the rate-dependent model are displacement-controlled, while others model the effect of rate-dependence on the dynamics of freefall cone indentation tests. Laboratory measurements of the forces required to indent clay samples in the laboratory are reported. Results from displacement-controlled tests with imposed step-changes in cone speed, and from freefall tests, confirm that the numerical rate-dependent strength model represents the observed behaviour well. Some results from experiments to observe plastic flow around conical indenters are also presented. Finally, additional numerical analyses are presented in which a critical state model of clay plasticity is used to study the variation of effective stress, strain and pore pressure around cones in indentation tests at various speeds.

thesis (7.16MB, pdf)

This thesis can also be downloaded from the ORA website