C.J. Brocklehurst

Doctor of Philosophy, Wolfson College, Oxford University, Hilary Term 1993

Finite Element Studies of Reinforced and Unreinforced two-layer soil systems


The purpose of this study is to obtain an insight into the mechanisms by which a geosynthetic membrane influences the performance of a plane strain and an axisymmetric two-layer soil system where the reinforcement is incorporated either into a layer of fill, or at the interface of a layer of fill overlying clay subgrade.

New axisymmetric membrane and interface element formulations are developed and incorporated in to an existing large strain finite element code. A linear elastic model of behaviour is used for the membrane material and an elastic-perfectly frictional model, based on the Mohr-Coulomb yield function, is implemented for the interface. These new formulations both take account of large global displacement and rotation effects, although the interface element is constrained to small relative displacements, and are checked against small and large strain closed form test problems. The finite element equations are based on an Updated Lagrangian description of deformation.

Plane strain finite element investigations into the significance of the resolution and relative size of the finite element mesh, and the differences between large and small strain analyses, are undertaken. For typical unreinforced and reinforced plane strain and axisymmetric two- layer soil systems a detailed analysis is presented of the soil displacements, strains, stresses, principal stress directions, mobilised fill friction angles and the stresses on the underside of the footing. A series of plane strain and some axisymmetric parametric studies of the various material properties is conduced, to assess the influences and relative importance of those variables to the performance of the two-layer soil system under monotonic loading. The study considers various reinforcement lengths and stiffnesses, fill depths and strengths, and different clay strengths.

The mechanisms of reinforcement are identified through careful examination of the footing load-displacement response, the reinforcement tension and the stresses and displacements at the interfaces with the surrounding soil. A comparative study is also undertaken between the results obtained by the finite element model and those predicted by a plane strain and axisymmetric limit equilibrium design method.

The effects of including a low friction membrane within an oil storage tank base, as secondary containment against oil leakage, are investigated by a series of axisymmetric finite element analyses.

Entire thesis (20.3 MB, pdf) | Chapters 1- 5 (4.12 MB, pdf) | Chapter 6 (12.7MB, pdf) | Chapters 7 - 12 (3.49MB, pdf)

This thesis can also be downloaded from the ORA Website