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Creep behavior of soil nail walls in high plasticity index (PI) soils : project summary.
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  • Abstract:
    Soil nailing is a convenient and economic

    stabilization method for the reinforcement of existing

    excavations by installing threaded steel bars into cuts

    or slopes as wall construction progresses from top

    down (Figure 1). An aspect of particular concern in

    the soil nail wall guideline is the creep behavior of

    this type of system in high-plasticity (HP) clays (i.e.,

    those soils with a plasticity index greater than 20).

    However, soil nail walls have been constructed with

    success in HP soils (particularly in Texas), and no

    issues associated with creep behavior have been

    observed so far, including walls that were built more

    than 20 years ago. The main motivation of this

    research project is to gain a better understanding of

    the behavior of soil nail walls in HP clays and to

    suggest possible modification to the current


    In order to assess the effect of creep behavior in HP

    clays, the following tasks were conducted:

    1. Pullout tests on eight existing anchors installed in

    1991 at the clay site at the National Geotechnical

    Experimentation Site at Texas A&M University

    (NGES-TAMU) were performed to explore any

    effect on the bond strength related to long-term

    installation (i.e., soil ageing).

    2. Pullout tests on 16 new vertical soil nails

    installed at the NGES-TAMU clay site were

    carried out following different protocols to learn

    about the effect of stress level on creep behavior.

    3. Pullout tests on six new sacrificial nails installed

    at different heights in a new soil nail wall at

    Beaumont were carried out to learn about the

    nail creep behavior under actual conditions.

    4. The actual soil nail wall was monitored at

    Beaumont (453 ft. long and 25 ft. high) for

    13 months to learn about the service load in nails

    and different wall movements in time.

    5. Laboratory tests (e.g., triaxial creep and

    oedometer tests) were performed on samples

    gathered from the two sites investigated in this

    project (i.e., NGES-TAMU and Beaumont).

    6. Numerical simulations were conducted using

    FLAC-3D. All components of the soil nail wall

    were simulated. The simulations were first

    calibrated against the pull-out tests and lab data.

    Then the Beaumont soil nail wall was modeled,

    and a parametric study was performed.

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