Gert Bartholomeeusen

Doctor of Philosophy, St. Catherine's College, Oxford University, Hilary Term 2003

Compound Shock Waves and Creep Behaviour in Sediment Beds


This research is a theoretical, experimental and numerical study of the one-dimensional deformation of suspensions. The study is focussed on the transition between sedimentation and consolidation, and creep during soil consolidation.

In the literature, sedimentation, traditional large strain consolidation and creep are explored independently. The theory of sedimentation has been derived in parallel with the mathematical description of shock waves. The large strain consolidation theory of Gibson et al. (1981) has been adopted, and attention is given to the material properties of compressibility and permeability. Traditionally creep has been studied on thin samples, and a review is given to identify parallels with creep behaviour of the thick samples studied here.

The experimental work was carried out in the laboratory using settling column tests. During the sedimentation stage, when the soil particles are fluid supported, shock waves were monitored and tracked by means of an X-ray absorption technique to allow for the calculation of experimental flux functions. Settling column experiments on different natural soils have been performed to study the consolidation behaviour by means of the measurement of pore water pressure and X-ray density measurements. An in-depth study of the development of effective stress has been performed to quantify the creep behaviour of the soils studied in a strain rate surface.

The sedimentation equation is classified as a hyperbolic partial differential equation. In this kind of equation, discontinuities can propagate, and standard solution methods, eg finite differences, fail to give adequate results. For this reason codes have been developed using the finite volume method (FVM) to solve the sedimentation equation numerically. A standard numerical code has been developed for the solution of the large strain consolidation equation, while for the unified sedimentation-consolidation model the finite volume method (FVM) has been used.

The shock waves monitored in the experiments are successfully predicted by the sedimentation model using experimentally derived flux functions. This study made it possible to formulate a physically and mathematically correct definition of the transition from sedimentation to consolidation. The strengths and weaknesses of the traditional large strain consolidation model have been identified by means of an international Class A prediction seminar. A new unified sedimentation-consolidation model is proposed using a flux function, a permeability relationship and a strain rate surface as material functions. Successful predictions of experiments have been performed, showing the transition from sedimentation to consolidation and the inclusion of creep.

Thesis (2.33MB, pdf)

This thesis can also be downloaded from the ORA website