Measuring Pore-water Pressure in Partially Frozen Soils

  • Author / Creator
    Kia, Mohammadali
  • Knowledge of pore-water pressure is essential to predict the ‘effective stress’ that controls the ‘resistance and deformation’ of a soil and to assess the ‘flow’ of water through it. Flow of water towards the freezing fringe controls the amount of frost heave in freezing soils. Drainage of this excess water controls subsequent thaw settlements as the frozen soil thaws. Further, the rate of dissipation of pore-water pressures control the thaw-instability in warming permafrost slopes. Not all of the water in a soil is ice at subzero temperatures; therefore, these soils are ‘partially frozen’. Hence, the challenges associated with measuring pore-water pressure distribution in freezing, thawing, and frozen soils can all be considered as one category: measuring pore-water pressures within a ‘partially frozen soil’. Therefore, measurement of pore-water pressures in partially frozen soils and having methods for estimating the pore-water pressure response to the applied loads are desirable. In this research, first a new instrument was developed to accurately conduct these measurements. Then, the measured pore-water pressures were used to study stress transmission within a partially frozen soil under applied loads, as well as under warming conditions. It was shown that if a sufficient amount of unfrozen water exists in a soil at subfreezing temperatures, it provides a continuous liquid phase that transfers pressures independent from the solid phase. Therefore, effective stress material properties and analysis should be used to evaluate the resistance and deformation of these partially frozen soils. This is of practical significance in analyzing stability and in modeling constitutive behavior of soil masses in warm and warming permafrost, especially for assessing geohazards associated with climate change. It is also of practical significance in analyzing and designing foundations, retaining structures, underground facilities, and frozen-core dams in cold regions. For the first time, measurements of Skempton’s B-bar coefficient in a partially frozen soil at various initial void ratios were presented and compared to that of the unfrozen soil. Thus, by assuming superposition, stress distribution between the soil matrix, pore-ice, and pore-water was evaluated. Further, decrease in load bearing of the ice matrix with increasing temperature was evaluated via measuring pore-water pressure distribution within a partially frozen soil during undrained warming. It was also found that in both the partially frozen and unfrozen states, the pore-water pressure response of overconsolidated sand is bilinear with a well-defined inflection point. Further, it was shown that the change in effective stress under undrained loading is not zero in overconsolidated sand specimens; hence, frictional resistance is not zero under undrained loading due to the stiffer solid phase.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Specialization
    • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Dr. David C. Sego & Dr. Norbert R. Morgenstern
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Sego, David C. (Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Alberta)
    • Arenson, Lukas (BGC engineer, previous post-doc at Civil and Environmental Engineering Department)
    • Szymanski, Jozef (Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Alberta)
    • Blatz, James (Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Manitoba)
    • Rostron, Ben (Earth and Atmospheric sciences, University of Alberta)
    • Morgenstern, Norbert R. (Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Alberta)
    • Wilson, G. Ward (Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Alberta)