In situ ground evaluation by deep soil mixing
Thesis DisciplineEngineering Geology
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Between 2010 and 2011, Canterbury experienced a series of four large earthquake events with associated aftershocks which caused widespread damage to residential and commercial infrastructure. Fine grained and uncompacted alluvial soils, typical to the Canterbury outwash plains, were exposed to high peak ground acceleration (PGA) during these events. This rapid increase in PGA induced cyclic strain softening and liquefaction in the saturated, near surface alluvial soils.
Extensive research into understanding the response of soils in Canterbury to dynamic loading has since occurred. The Earthquake Commission (EQC), the Ministry of Business and Employment (MBIE), and the Christchurch City Council (CCC) have quantified the potential hazards associated with future seismic events. Theses bodies have tested numerous ground improvement design methods, and subsequently are at the forefront of the Canterbury recovery and rebuild process.
Deep Soil Mixing (DSM) has been proven as a viable ground improvement foundation method used to enhance in situ soils by increasing stiffness and positively altering in situ soil characteristics. However, current industry practice for confirming the effectiveness of the DSM method involves specific laboratory and absolute soil test methods associated with the mixed column element itself. Currently, the response of the soil around the columns to DSM installation is poorly understood. This research aims to understand and quantify the effects of DSM columns on near surface alluvial soils between the DSM columns though the implementation of standardised empirical soil test methods. These soil strength properties and ground improvement changes have been investigated using shear wave velocity (Vs), soil behaviour and density response methods.
The results of the three different empirical tests indicated a consistent improvement within the ground around the DSM columns in sandier soils. By contrast, cohesive silty soils portrayed less of a consistent response to DSM, although still recorded increases. Generally, within the tests completed 50 mm from the column edge, the soil response indicated a deterioration to DSM. This is likely to be a result of the destruction of the soil fabric as the stress and strain of DSM is applied to the un‐mixed in situ soils.
The results suggest that during the installation of DSM columns, a positive ground effect occurs in a similar way to other methods of ground improvement. However, further research, including additional testing following this empirical method, laboratory testing and finite 2D and 3D modelling, would be useful to quantify, in detail, how in situ soils respond and how practitioners should consider these test results in their designs.
This thesis begins to evaluate how alluvial soils tend to respond to DSM. Conducting more testing on the research site, on other sites in Christchurch, and around the world, would provide a more complete data set to confirm the results of this research and enable further evaluation. Completing this additional research could help geotechnical DSM practitioners to use standardised empirical test methods to measure and confirm ground improvement rather than using existing test methods in future DSM projects. Further, demonstrating the effectiveness of empirical test methods in a DSM context is likely to enable more cost effective and efficient testing of DSM columns in future geotechnical projects.