Matthews, M.C., Hope, V.S. and Clayton, C.R.I.
The geotechnical value of ground stiffness determined using seismic methods
Modern Geophysics in Engineering Geology, 12, . (doi:10.1144/?GSL.ENG.1997.012.01.10).
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Geotechnical design routinely requires that the in situ strength, stiffness and permeability of the ground be determined. Most satisfactory designs for constructions such as buildings, excavations and tunnels ensure that an adequate margin of safety is maintained, and, under these conditions, measurements of the stiffness of the ground are required so that movements in the ground, both during and after construction, can be calculated.
Over the past two decades the careful back-analysis of the behaviour of the ground around constructions such as tunnels and excavations has repeatedly shown that the in situ stiffness of soils and rocks is much higher than was previously thought, and that stress—strain behaviour of these materials is non-linear in most cases. Numerical analyses, using finite element and finite difference computations and field observations, have demonstrated that when margins of safety are adequate the strain levels in the ground around retaining walls, foundations and tunnels are small, and typically of the order of 0.0-l%–0.1%. Improved measurements in the laboratory have confirmed the non-linear stress-strain behaviour of soil, and shown that stiffness is much higher when measured locally and at small strain levels than when determined using conventional laboratory techniques.
The realization that strain levels around construction are small, and that field stiffnesses are much higher than previously measured in the laboratory, has led us to re-appraise the value of stiffnesses derived from field seismic geophysical methods. Such methods allow stiffnesses to be determined on representative volumes of the ground, and at the in situ stress state, and for this reason may provide valuable data. This paper reviews the importance of stiffness in geotechnical design and how seismic methods are used in ground stiffness investigations.
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