A wide seasonal variation of ground water level was observed near the town of ngri, Italy. In the period 1989 to 1995, the water table dropped by 6 meters during the summer and returned to normal levels in the fall. The water level variation led to settlements which caused damage to an industrial building. The rational developed to explain the soil behavior at the site, which includes layers of peat, illustrates the important role of seepage pressures during rapid transients. During rapid lowering of the phreatic surface, the initial soil compression is controlled by total stresses including the weight of water. The soil investigation and monitoring to evaluate damages highlight this unusual aspect of soil behavior, not yet completely documented, to the author's knowledge, in the geotechnical literature.
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