Volume 44, N. 3, Special Issue: Unsaturated Soils (Invited Editors: T.M.P. Campos, F.A.M. Marinho, G.F.N. Gitirana Jr.), July-September, in Progress, 2021 | PDF(54 downloads)
Spread footings are often supported in the upper zone of the soil profile, which is frequently unsaturated. It is common in geotechnical practice to use in situ testing to assess soil properties throughout the zone of influence for footings. These tests regularly include the Standard Penetration Test (SPT), and sometimes the Cone Penetration Test (CPT), and Pre-bored Pressuremeter Test (PMT). Yet degree of saturation is often not considered in the analysis of the test results. To investigate the importance of partial saturation, SPTs, CPTs, and PMTs were conducted at two test sites over two years covering dry and wet periods. Water content and suction profiles were established for each test date to assess their impact on the in situ tests. Results from this study revealed that changes in moisture content and suction had an important influence on the results of in situ tests and the soil parameters derived from these tests. Specifically, undrained shear strengths estimated from SPT penetration resistance and CPT tip resistance using empirical and semi-empirical equations, respectively, were significantly lower during wet periods compared to dry periods. Consequently, estimated bearing capacities for a shallow foundation varied considerably from dry to wet periods. Similarly, PMT limit pressures were significantly impacted by increases in moisture content. Associated reductions in limit pressures resulted in large reductions in predicted allowable bearing capacity. While PMT modulus did appear to decrease with increasing moisture, its impact on settlement was offset by the decrease in allowable bearing pressure under wet conditions.