Water Resources Research

An insight into the role of hydraulic history on the volume changes of anisotropic clayey soils



[1] Volume changes of natural and compacted soils induced by changes in their water content have many practical implications in the service life of earth dams, river and canal embankments, and waste disposal facilities. An insight into the overall strain response of a clayey soil upon gradual wetting and drying is provided here. Experimental data coming from oedometer and isotropic tests under suction and net stress control are presented for a compacted clay with an initial anisotropic fabric, highlighting the relevant role played by the hydraulic path on collapse, swelling, and shrinkage strains. Irreversible strains could be observed after wetting-drying paths and the subsequent drying-wetting cycle. Both stress and hydraulic histories play a role in the evolution of the directional fabric of clayey soils. The experimental data could be reproduced with a rather simple elastic-plastic constitutive model with a mixed isotropic-rotational hardening, previously conceived for saturated soils. The model is extended to unsaturated conditions by substituting the saturated effective stress with a measure of the average stress acting on the soil skeleton and by introducing generalized hardening rules governed by both plastic strains and degree of saturation. Coupling between the mechanical and the hydraulic behavior is provided by the water retention curve, in which degree of saturation is adopted as a useful measure of the soil water content.