Verification, Validation and Application of the NorSand Constitutive Model in PLAXIS

Single-stress point analyses of experimental lab test data and finite element analyses of a submerged landslide

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As the construction of sub-aerial and submarine geotechnical structures increase in amount, rate and size, so do their associated risks. Often, with use constitutive models, finite element analyses (FEAs) are performed in order to identify and mitigate these risks. NorSand, which is a consti- tutive model based on critical state soil mechanics for particulate materials (e.g., sand), is one of the first models to integrate the state parameter ψ into its constitutive framework to model dense and loose sands material with the same parameter set. Importantly, it is able to identify the liquefaction potential as it can simulate softening behaviour due to pore pressure increase of loose soils in undrained conditions. Since NorSand has recently been implement into PLAXIS, a geotechnical analysis software capable of performing FEAs, it must be verified, validated and applied with the software, which is done in this report. First, stress-path and parametric analyses were conducted at single stress points. The stress- path analyses show how the state variables evolve for different triaxial conditions. Systematically changing the input parameters to extremes found in literature helped determine their influence on the evolution of stresses and strains. The resulting figures can be used to help future calibrations to experimental lab test data. The PLAXIS implemented NorSand (PLAXIS NorSand) was verified by comparing it with an implementation written in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA NorSand) by the authors of the model Jefferies and Been. Verification in this context means determining if PLAXIS NorSand is able to produce outputs as intended by the authors. Various testing conditions, both triaxial and direct simple shear, showed overlap and agreement between the outputs of both implementations, verifying PLAXIS NorSand. Then, the model was compared to, albeit not in a traditional sense, an ’analytical solution’, which is the relationship between the mobilized friction ratio Mi and state parameter ψ in its simplest form. The mobilized friction ratio and stress ratio at peak strength of PLAXIS NorSand and the ’analytical solution’ were compared. The values between both showed less than 3% difference, further verifying PLAXIS NorSand. The constitutive model was then validated - i.e., established that PLAXIS NorSand is able to approximate soil behaviour as intended. First, by using the soil parameter set that had been derived from lab tests of Erksak sand as a baseline, the input parameters were varied until PLAXIS NorSand was calibrated to individual triaxial tests as best as possible. Then, triaxial tests of Erksak, Nerlerk and Ticino sand were approximated with PLAXIS NorSand without changing the soil parameters determined from lab test data. PLAXIS NorSand is able to follow lab test data decently well with one parameter set. And if one decides to take the time and calibrate individual lab tests, and deviate from soil parameters determined from a set of lab tests, they can be matched even better. Additionally, it showed a consistent need for activation of the softening flag (S = 1) in order to appropriately model loose soils in undrained conditions. Furthermore, NorSand exhibits indefinite hardening in dense soils during undrained loading, which can be avoided by employing a ’cavitation cut-off’. The last part of this report tested PLAXIS NorSand by applying it in FEAs of a simplified submerged landslide, which was subjected to 20 centimeters of displacement at the crest through a rigid slab in undrained conditions. First, the difference in slope behaviour due to change in soil density within NorSand was determined: dense soil resulted in the slope to be able to bear the full 20 centimeter displacement, whereas increasing the void ratio (i.e., increasing the positive value for the state parameter) gave the effect of even quicker slope collapse and a lower bearing capacity. In other words, when using NorSand, the looser soil the further the failure surface moves up and the quicker the structure fails to maintain equilibrium. Lastly, NorSand was compared to Modified Cam-Clay and Mohr-Coulomb to highlight the differences in their ability to model static liquefaction, while being triggered by unrealistic loading conditions. Even though none of the FEAs showed actual liquefaction, since it is accompanied with the fluidization and loss of structure, they still gave in indication of the liquefaction potential. NorSand, contrary to the other constitutive models, showed the expected high sensitivity to forced displacement resulting in clear shear bands resembling Prandtl-type failure mechanism and early onset soil body collapse.