Optimal Deformation Modes for Estimating Soil Properties

Anastasia Nally, Zhenhao Shi, James P. Hambleton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Accurate estimation of soil mechanical properties represents a crucial step for most engineering applications. Both in situ and laboratory testing fundamentally rest on mechanically deforming (actuating) the material and simultaneously measuring its response in terms of displacements and stresses (reactions). Facing this widely adopted scheme, key questions remain unanswered: 1) what is the optimal type and/or mode of actuation that can most effectively extract soil properties; 2) what types of measurements are most useful for inferring material constants? As a first step in the investigation of these questions, an inverse model for the direct simple shear (DSS) test is constructed, wherein measurable responses are used to back-calculate soil properties. Specimens with two different aspect ratios are considered to study the influence of the deformation mode. The effect of the choice of measurements (i.e., which displacements and/or stresses are observed) is explored by assessing inverse model performance considering the DSS test as a boundary value problem, with variable displacement and stress fields, versus the conventional interpretation as an elemental test. Parameter sensitivities and correlation coefficients are employed as quantifiable metrics to compare material characterization based on different aspect ratios and types of measurements, and to interpret the performance of inverse analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGeotechnical Special Publication
EditorsMiguel A. Pando, Christopher L. Meehan, Joseph T. Coe, Sanjeev Kumar
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages10
EditionGSP 310
ISBN (Electronic)9780784482070, 9780784482087, 9780784482094, 9780784482100, 9780784482117, 9780784482124, 9780784482131, 9780784482148, 9780784482155, 9780784482162
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Event8th International Conference on Case Histories in Geotechnical Engineering: Geotechnical Materials, Modeling, and Testing, Geo-Congress 2019 - Philadelphia, United States
Duration: Mar 24 2019Mar 27 2019

Publication series

NameGeotechnical Special Publication
NumberGSP 310
ISSN (Print)0895-0563


Conference8th International Conference on Case Histories in Geotechnical Engineering: Geotechnical Materials, Modeling, and Testing, Geo-Congress 2019
CountryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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  • Cite this

    Nally, A., Shi, Z., & Hambleton, J. P. (2019). Optimal Deformation Modes for Estimating Soil Properties. In M. A. Pando, C. L. Meehan, J. T. Coe, & S. Kumar (Eds.), Geotechnical Special Publication (GSP 310 ed., pp. 541-550). (Geotechnical Special Publication; Vol. 2019-March, No. GSP 310). American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). https://doi.org/10.1061/9780784482124.055