A photogrammetry-based method to measure total and local volume changes of unsaturated soils during triaxial testing Academic Article uri icon


  • 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Triaxial tests have been widely used to evaluate soil behaviors. In the past few decades, several methods have been developed to measure the volume changes of unsaturated soil specimens during triaxial tests. Literature review indicates that until now it remains a major challenge for researchers to measure the volume changes of unsaturated soil specimens during triaxial testing. This paper presents a non-contact method to measure the total and local volume changes of unsaturated soil specimens using a conventional triaxial test apparatus for saturated soils. The method is simple and cost-effective, requiring only a commercially available digital camera to take images of an unsaturated soil specimen during triaxial testing from which accurate 3D model of the soil specimen is reconstructed. In this proposed method, the photogrammetric technique is utilized to determine the orientations of the camera where the images are taken and the shape and location of the acrylic cell, multiple optical ray tracings are employed to correct the refraction at the air-acrylic cell and acrylic cellwater interfaces, and a least-square optimization technique is applied to estimate the coordinates of any point on the specimen surface. The paper first discusses the theoretical aspects of the proposed method. An image analysis on a caliper was then used to evaluate the accuracy of photogrammetric analysis in the air. A series of isotropic compression tests on a stainless steel cylinder were used to demonstrate the procedure and evaluate the accuracy of the proposed method, while triaxial shearing tests on a saturated sand specimen were used to exam the capacity of the proposed method for measuring the total and localized volume changes during triaxial testing. Results obtained from the validation tests indicate that the accuracy for the photogrammetry in the air is about 10m. The average accuracy for single point measurements in the triaxial tests ranges from 0.056 to 0.076mm with standard deviations varying from 0.033 to 0.061mm. The accuracy for total volume measurements is better than 0.25%.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, X., Li, L., Chen, G., & Lytton, R.

citation count

  • 65

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Xiong||Li, Lin||Chen, Gang||Lytton, Robert

publication date

  • February 2015