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Influence of backfill moisture content on the pullout capacity of geotextile reinforcement in MSE walls.
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  • Abstract:
    Sources of high-quality soils to meet design standards for the construction of reinforced soil structures are

    in many cases rare and in short supply. An economical alternative to coarse-grained, free-draining soils

    consists of using locally available soils of marginal quality (e.g. those containing more than 15% fines).

    Although this may lead to significant savings, detailed studies are necessary to assess the performance

    of these materials, including soil-reinforcement interaction. The pullout capacity of the geotextile

    reinforcement is a main concern in the internal stability analysis of reinforced soil structures constructed

    with marginal soils. Precipitation, ground water infiltration and seasonal variations of moisture content

    over the service life of the structure or during its construction process may lead to significant changes in

    the fill moisture content. The resulting loss in the soil matric suction can reduce the soil-reinforcement

    interface strength, which could result in unacceptable deformations or even failure of the structure.

    In this study, multi-scale pullout tests were carried out to evaluate the pullout resistance of a geotextile

    reinforcement material in a selected marginal soil. The soil was selected to meet the limiting requirements

    of the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) guidelines for the construction of segmental

    retaining walls with respect to the fines content, gradation and plasticity. The soil in different tests was

    compacted at different moisture contents that included dry and wet sides of the soil Optimum Moisture

    Content (OMC). The matric suction in each test was measured in order to evaluate its influence on the

    soil-reinforcement interaction. In addition to pullout resistance, the soil shear strength and soil-geotextile

    interface strength were evaluated to determine their variation with the soil moisture content. Moisture

    Reduction Factors (MRF) were calculated to account for the reduction in the reinforcement pullout

    resistance as a result of the loss in the soil matric suction.

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