Géotechnique

ISSN 0016-8505 | E-ISSN 1751-7656
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Low- to medium-density chalk at St Nicholas at Wade, UK, is characterised by intensive testing to inform the interpretation of axial and lateral tests on driven piles. The chalk destructures when taken to large strains, especially under dynamic loading, leading to remarkably high pore pressures beneath penetrating cone penetration testing and driven pile tips, weak putty annuli around their shafts and degraded responses in full-displacement pressure-meter tests. Laboratory tests on carefully formed specimens explore the chalk's unstable structure and markedly time- and rate-dependent mechanical behaviour. A clear hierarchy is found between profiles of peak strength with depth of Brazilian tension, drained and undrained triaxial and direct simple shear tests conducted from in situ stress conditions. Highly instrumented triaxial tests reveal the chalk's unusual effective stress paths, markedly brittle failure behaviour from small strains and the effects of consolidating to higher than in situ stresses. The chalk's mainly sub-vertical jointing and micro-fissuring lead to properties depending on specimen scale, with in situ mass stiffnesses falling significantly below high-quality laboratory measurements and vertical Young's moduli exceeding horizontal stiffnesses. While compressive strength and stiffness appear relatively insensitive to effective stress levels, consolidation to higher pressures closes micro-fissures, increases stiffness and reduces anisotropy.

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