Estimating penetrometer resistance and matric potential from the velocities of shear and compression waves

Gao, W.; Watts, W. R.; Ren, T.; Shin, H.; Taherzadeh, S.; Attenborough, K.; Jenkins, M. and Whalley, W. R. (2013). Estimating penetrometer resistance and matric potential from the velocities of shear and compression waves. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 77(3) pp. 721–728.



Recently there has been interest in using the velocity of elastic waves to deduce soil physical properties. We wanted to validate the suggestion that the small strain shear modulus has a relatively simple linear relationship with penetrometer resistance. We were also interested in testing published equations for predicting shear wave velocity with an independent data set. Three soils were investigated in this study: a loamy sand soil and two silty clay loam soils. The soils were packed into cores with vertical axial stresses of 30, 200, or 1000 kPa. Following saturation, they were drained to a range of matric potentials between −10 and −500 kPa. After equilibration, we measured the velocities of shear (S wave) and compression (P wave) waves as well as the penetrometer resistances. Our data confirmed a previous proposal that the penetrometer resistance was an approximately linear function of the small strain shear modulus but tested the relationship by direct measurement. The relationships were found to have some sensitivity to soil type. Nevertheless, we show for the first time that there is considerable potential for using S wave velocity to deduce penetrometer resistance with a calibration that is relatively insensitive to soil type. Although estimation of the matric potential with either shear or compression wave velocity was found not to be very accurate, the possibility for estimating the matric potential from an elastic wave velocity given a priori knowledge of the void ratio is an interesting opportunity.

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