Effects of disturbance on undrained strengths interpreted from pressuremeter tests Academic Article uri icon


  • Although the cylindrical cavity expansion theory should provide a sound basis for obtaining the undrained shear strength of clays from pressuremeter tests, the interpreted strengths are often inconsistent with data measured in high-quality laboratory tests. This paper investigates how the pressuremeter results are affected by disturbances that inevitably occur during device installation. The installation of self-boring and displacement-type pressuremeters is simulated using strain path analyses, with realistic effective stress-strain-strength properties described by the MIT-E3 model. Derived strengths obtained from the simulated expansion of displacement-type pressuremeters tend to underestimate the in situ/cavity expansion strength by amounts that depend on the relative volume of soil displaced, the time delay prior to testing, and the initial overconsolidation ratio of the clay. Interpretation procedures using the simulated contraction curves give much more reliable estimates of the true undrained shear strength. The simulated disturbance effects of self boring lead to derived peak shear stresses that are significantly higher than the reference undrained shear strengths. This overestimate depends on the volume of soil removed during installation and is enhanced when the finite membrane length is included in the analyses. Self-boring pressuremeter data from a well-documented test site in Boston confirm the general character of the predicted pressuremeter stress-strain behavior. The theoretical analyses underestimate the peak strengths derived from self-boring pressuremeter (SBPM) expansion tests, but match closely the measured postpeak resistance in the strain range of 3-6% (saddle point condition). Saddle point strengths are similar in magnitude to the shear strengths measured in laboratory undrained triaxial compression tests at this site. The current predictions are not able to explain the very high shear strengths derived from the SBPM contraction curves.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Aubeny, C. P., Whittle, A. J., & Ladd, C. C.

citation count

  • 20

publication date

  • December 2000