n Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering = Joernaal van die Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut van Siviele Ingenieurswese - Development of a saturation- and stress-dependent chord modulus model for unbound granular material : technical paper




Unbound granular material is used in the pavement structure and usually comprises the bulk of the structural and foundation layers of a typical South African pavement. The term refers to the classification of natural material, which has not been modified in any way. Unbound granular material is classified from a G1 to G10 quality according to its fundamental behaviour and strength characteristics.

Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio are theoretical concepts of linear elasticity that can at best approximate experimental results of actual material elastic response. In their basic linear elastic form, Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio are rather poor approximations of actual unbound granular material behaviour. The non-linear, stress-dependent behaviour of unbound granular material can, however, be simulated using the linear elastic model as a basis, but with a proper constitutive material model that adheres to the observed material behaviour.
The objective of this paper is to utilise a chord modulus model and calibrate it for a range of unbound granular material classifications. The model was calibrated for five bulk material samples, ranging from G2 to G8. The calibration process included linking variables of the model to mathematical functions that approximate the trends observed when variables were considered against degree of saturation. A parametric analysis indicated that the saturation- and stress-dependent chord modulus model realistically predict material behaviour. The trends depict the stress-dependent behaviour of unbound granular material, where an increase in initial modulus is observed for increasing confinement pressure, as well as initial stress softening with increasing stress ratio followed by stress stiffening.
It can be concluded from the results presented in this paper that a saturation- and stress-dependent chord modulus model could be refined and calibrated for crushed and natural unbound granular material. This refinement did not negatively influence the accuracy or ability to realistically predict the material behaviour. The preliminary conclusions reported in this paper indicate that the chord model formulation yield satisfactory predictions, especially when the model is calibrated for each individual material type.


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