Quantifying Moisture Effects in DCP and LWD Tests Using Unsaturated Mechanics

Principal Investigator(s):

Kimberly Hill, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering


  • Lev Khazanovich, Former Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

Minnesota counties and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) use the Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (DCP) and the Lightweight Deflectometer (LWD) for in situ evaluation of stiffness and strength of soil and aggregate bases. The in situ test of choice (DCP or LWD) varies somewhat by county and region, depending partly on the local soil conditions and partly on historical preferences. The LWD is considered a measure of modulus - strength and stiffness - while the DCP is considered a measure of shear strength. Recent field and laboratory tests have provided calibration for these tests for several specific granular samples. However, the results are likely less reliable for a broader range of potential granular materials used for granular bases. The objective of this research is to build on a mechanistic model developed for dry aggregate bases under LRRB INV 850 - DEMP-3D - to increase its applicability to more materials and tests used in Minnesota. There were three primary thrusts to these new additions: (1) A model for the LWD test has been added so that computational predictions for DCP tests could be compared with those from LWD tests; (2) Particle-scale models for moisture and fine particle content have been included for the user to input these among the other existing material input parameters, and (3) Analogous algorithms have been developed for the DCP and LWD tests to be used with PFC3D, a commercial code maintained by Itasca Co.

Project details: