N.R.F. Nutt

Doctor of Philosophy, St. Catherine's College, University of Oxford, Hilary Term 1993

Development of the Cone Pressuremeter


The cone pressuremeter is an in situ testing device comprising a pressuremeter mounted behind a cone penetrometer of the same diameter. Previously reported tests had indicated that the cone pressuremeter can provide measurements of soil strength, stiffness and in situ stress. The study presented in this thesis is aimed at developing methods of interpretation of the cone pressuremeter that can be applied with confidence to a variety of soil types.

Carbonate sands have been the cause of significant problems associated with the design of foundations for offshore structures. A programme of cone pressuremeter testing in a carbonate sand from the west coast of Ireland is presented. Tests were carried out in a calibration chamber where conditions of vertical and horizontal stress and relative density were controlled. The influence of these parameters on measured values of cone resistance and pressuremeter limit pressure is assessed. Similar tests were also carried out in a felspathic sand, and correlations have been presented for deriving horizontal stress and relative density that are applicable to most types of sand.

The influence of creep strains and of overconsolidation were other features of carbonate sand that have been assessed with the cone pressuremeter. A numerical model which accounts for the crushing characteristics of carbonate sand is presented, and is shown to improve significantly predictions of limit pressure measured in the calibration chamber.

Cone pressuremeter tests were carried out in soft clay at the Bothkennar test site in Scotland. An analysis based upon cavity expansion theory was shown to provide good estimates of undrained shear strength and stiffness compared with results from other in situ and laboratory tests. Estimates of the in situ horizontal stress were found to be unrealistically high.

Shear modulus in both sand and clay has been measured from unload-reload cycles carried out during pressuremeter expansion. The stress levels and strain amplitudes of these cycles have been shown to influence the shear modulus greatly. In sand, a procedure for relating these moduli to those at an extremely small reference strain is presented. In clay, shear moduli are shown to give a remarkably close agreement to others reported from Bothkennar, when due account of the strain amplitude is made.

Finally, a time/cost analysis between the cone pressuremeter, the cone penetrometer and the self-boring pressuremeter is presented. The cone pressuremeter is found to be a cost-effective device bearing in mind the amount and quality of information it can provide.

Entire thesis (11.86MB, pdf)

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