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Tensile behaviour of unsaturated compacted clay soils — A direct assessment method

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ross Stirling, Dr Paul Hughes, Dr Colin DavieORCiD, Professor Stephanie Glendinning



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This paper presents a new method for testing the behaviour of soils placed under tensile load and demonstrates its suitability for testing a number of soil types under various conditions including saturation, compaction and stabilisation. Validation of the results obtained for the soils at relatively low saturation has been conducted using the established Brazilian (indirect) test for measuring the tensile strength of brittle materials. A fair comparison has been found and the results highlight the limited applicability of the Brazilian method to soils at very low water contents at which the tensile failure criterion has been assumed using this methodology. Optical characterisation of the performance of both testing methods has also been conducted using Digital Image Correlation. The consistent, accurate measurement of directly induced tensile strains using the proposed new method has been confirmed, verifying its capability to apply a direct tensile stress in the absence of shearing, a problem commonly associated with other tensile testing methods. The developed technique has then been used to investigate the water content – tensile strength relationship for compacted, unsaturated soils and offers significant advantages in the characterisation of clay soils subjected to variable climatic loading.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stirling RA, Hughes P, Davie CT, Glendinning S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Clay Science

Year: 2015

Volume: 112-113

Pages: 123-133

Print publication date: 01/08/2015

Online publication date: 23/05/2015

Acceptance date: 13/04/2015

Date deposited: 05/05/2015

ISSN (print): 0169-1317

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9053

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.clay.2015.04.011


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Funder referenceFunder name
TU1202EU-COST Action