Prediction of the spacing and patterns of drying cracks in soils

Desiccation cracking of soils is of great importance to geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering as it affects the soil physical integrity. Yet the mechanisms of drying cracking in soils, and the ways to control or avoid it, are still elusive. This paper aims at offering a better understanding of the factors that control the desiccation crack pattern characteristics in soils at the macro-scale. An experimental program is first presented. It consists of the drying of clayey silt slabs, constrained at the bottom and the measuring of the geometrical characteristics of the one- and two-dimensional crack patterns obtained. Then the way desiccation crack spacing and geometry can be predicted is dealt with. It is discussed to which extend the initiation location of successive cracks can be deduced from the form of the stress field. Calculations of the overall energy of the system are further used to derive an estimate of the desiccation crack spacing. An assessment of the obtained desiccation crack spacing value is proposed.

Pietruszczak, Stan
Pande, Gyan
Tamagnini, Claudio
Wan, Richard
Published in:
Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Computational Geomechanics, 623-629
Presented at:
First International Symposium on Computational Geomechanics (ComGeo I), Juan-les-Pins (France), April 29 - May 1, 2009
International Centre for Computational Engineering

Note: The status of this file is: EPFL only

 Record created 2009-06-02, last modified 2018-03-17

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