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The consolidation characteristics of natural soils vary widely depending on their stress history, void ratio, and structure. The standard method of measuring consolidation properties involves the incremental loading of specimens of soil, but other methods using controlled loading techniques have been useful in improving the understanding of soil compressibility. The various test methods and their influence on the evaluation of consolidation properties are reviewed in the paper. The interpretation of preconsolidation pressure for some soils is greatly influenced by the rate of loading. Total consolidation settlements can be estimated reasonably well from good oedometer tests, but predictions of the rate of settlement are usually quite unreliable in the primary consolidation stage. The ability to evaluate and interpret consolidation tests has been improved where the tests have been carried out in conjunction with field observations. More research of this kind is needed to improve the usefulness of consolidation theories and testing.
consolidation, overconsolidation, preconsolidation pressure, soil mechanics, soil properties, soil structure, soil tests
National Research Council of Canada, Division of Building Research, Ottawa, Ontario