Identification of Potential Strain Heterogeneities During Wetting-Induced Compaction

Constance Mihalache, Giuseppe Buscarnera*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Compaction upon wetting has been reported to occur in various types of unsaturated soils with damaging consequences for infrastructure in field applications. This deformation process is often referred to as "wetting-collapse", implying that it may be unstable in nature. Recent evidences also indicate that compaction localization represents a possible mode of deformation during wetting, even in the presence of oedometric loading paths. Despite this, little work has been done from a mechanistic perspective to assess the susceptibility of these processes to localization instability. Here we assess the potential for strain localization during wetting through controllability analyses defined in light of a second-order work expression for unsaturated soils. A hydro-mechanical constitutive model with suction-dependent hardening is used to simulate classic experimental data, and the controllability criteria are specialized to capture the potential for shear band formation for a range of band inclinations under water content-controlled and suction-controlled wetting paths. The effect of changes in material characteristics was evaluated, showing that the potential for strain localization upon water-injection increases with increasing values of suction-induced hardening, and that non-associativity may have an effect on both the potential for localization under rapid wetting, as well as on the range of band angles over which it may occur. Specifically, it is possible to distinguish two well-defined stress regions, one within which strain localization is first possible with horizontal band inclinations and another in which inclined localization zones tend to be more critical. Such results provide insight on the factors that may contribute to strain localization during wetting and find general applicability in the interpretation of the response of geo-structures subjected to intense hydrologic forcing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17004
JournalE3S Web of Conferences
StatePublished - Sep 12 2016
Event3rd European Conference on Unsaturated Soils, E-UNSAT 2016 - Paris, France
Duration: Sep 12 2016Sep 14 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Energy(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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