Volume 34, Issue 6 (November 2011)
A Stress-controlled Erosion Apparatus for Studying Internal Erosion in Soils
Suffusion in soil involves selective erosion of fine particles within the matrix of coarse soil particles under seepage flow. Such loss of fine particles affects the hydraulic and mechanical behavior of the soil. In this study, a stress-controlled erosion apparatus was developed to investigate the initiation and development of suffusion under complex stress states and to study the effect of suffusion on soil stress-strain behavior. The apparatus allows independent control of hydraulic gradient and stress state. The hydraulic gradient is controlled using a water-head control method. The eroded soil and the outflow rate are measured using a soil collection system and a water collection system, respectively. The measurements can be used to study the erosion rate and variations in soil permeability during the erosion process. A series of erosion tests was conducted on a gap-graded soil under the same confining stress but different deviatoric stresses. The results show that the maximum erosion rate, the variations in soil permeability, and the total deformation of the soil specimen increase with the increase of deviatoric stress. After the loss of a significant amount of fine particles in the soil, the stress-strain behavior of the test soil changes from dilative behavior to contractive behavior.