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Predicting changes in static liquefaction susceptibility using cone penetration test results


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Author M A Styler, P W Mayne, D McGowan and J T Sharp


Static liquefaction is a geotechnical hazard in mine tailings facilities. Soils that are contractive in shear are susceptible to static liquefaction. Tailings facilities are dynamic structures, typically growing in height each year. Dilative tailings may become contractive under increased effective stress. In this paper we show that Cone Penetration Test (CPT) data can be used to estimate the future state of in-place tailings under changes in effective stress.

Susceptibility to static liquefaction is typically evaluated with the CPT by using a clean-sand equivalent normalized cone tip resistance (Qtn,cs) or by estimating the state parameter (y). An alternative approach is to evaluate the soil-state using the yield-stress-ratio (YSR = s’y/s’v0). If the YSR equals one it is on the normal consolidation line and the soil-state is contractive. YSR values greater than three are typically dense of the critical state line (CSL) and the soil-state is dilative. In this paper we review how to calculate Qtn,cs, y, and s’y; and how the YSR can be used to screen for contractive soil behaviour.

Unlike Qtn,cs and y, it is very simple to estimate how the YSR will change due to an increase in overburden stress. This YSR approach was evaluated at three locations that saw increases in overburden of 10 m, 20 m, and 25 m. We show that the s’y calculations are consistent and the increase in effective stress moves the soil state towards looser soil states.


Styler, M A, Mayne, P W, McGowan, D and Sharp, J T, 2018. Predicting changes in static liquefaction susceptibility using cone penetration test results, in Proceedings Mine Waste and Tailings Stewardship Conference 2018, pp 317–332 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).