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Lateral versus vertical swell pressures in expansive soils

Sapaz, Burak
Expansive or swelling soils, exist in many part of the world, show excessive volume changes with increasing water content. As a result of this volume increase, expansive soils apply vertical and lateral pressures to the structures located or buried in these regions. Many researchs have been carried out on vertical swelling pressures helping to the engineers to design structures withstanding on these stresses. However, lateral swell behaviour of swelling soils have not been fully understood yet. Structures such as; basement walls, water tanks, canals, tunnels, underground conduits and swimming pools which will be built in expansive soils have to be designed to overcome the lateral swelling pressures as well as the other lateral pressures exerted by the soil. For this aim accurate and reliable methods are needed to predict the magnitude of lateral swelling pressures of expansive soils and to understand the lateral swelling behaviour of expansive soils. In this experimental study, the lateral swelling behaviour of an highly expansive clay is investigated using a modified thin wall oedometer which was developed in the METU Civil Engineering Department Soil Mechanics Laboratory earlier. Statically compacted samples were used in constant volume swell (CVS) tests to measure the magnitude of the lateral and vertical swelling pressures. To study the relationship between the lateral and vertical sweeling pressures, they were measured simultaneously. The samples having different initial water contents and different initial dry densities were used to study the effects of these variables on the vertical and the lateral swelling pressures. It is observed that both lateral and vertical pressures increases with increasing initial dry density and they decrease with increasing initial water content. Swell pressure ratio, the ratio of lateral swelling pressure to the vertical one, is