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Advances in Soil Dynamics and Foundation Engineering GSP 240 © ASCE 2014 517

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Seismic Response of a Geo-grid Reinforced Retaining Wall by Shaking


Table Test

L.Y. Wang1, X.L. Du2 , F.X. Zhang3


1
School of Civil and architectural engineering, Jiangsu University of science and technology,
212003, Zhenjiang, China, PH(86)18952860415; FAX (86)-515-84432200; email:
wly_yzu@163.com
2
Bureau of water conservancy Liuzhou,545000, Liuzhou, China, PH(86)13505195867; FAX
(86)-515-84432200; email: 184409938 @qq.com
3
School of Civil and architectural engineering, Jiangsu University of science and technology,
212003, Zhenjiang, China, PH(86)18952860415; FAX (86)-515-84432200; email:
1406224213@qq.com

Abstract: Geo-grid reinforced retaining wall is a relative new flexible retaining


structure. However, its dynamic behavior and seismic resistance mechanism
under earthquakes have not been clear at present. A laminar shear container was
used to install the test model of geogrid reinforced retaining wall, its seismic
response was investigated by a large-scale shaking table test. The similarity
criterion of the model was confirmed by the Froude constant of
Bockingham  theorem in dimensional analysis theory. A series of variables
were measured such as acceleration, horizontal displacement of the wall,
seismic subsidence of reinforced zone and unreinforced zone under different
waves. The measured results show that the reinforced wall model has different
responses under different earthquake motions. Accelerations of the wall were
amplified under earthquake wave caused by far field, while the distribution of
spectrum is symmetric and the largest spectrum value was presented on the top
of the wall. The displacement of wall top is the largest along the reinforced wall
height, and the seismic subsidence of the reinforced zone is smaller than
unreinforced zone, which indicates the geogrid effect on the reinforced soil
retaining wall.

INTRODUCTION

Geogrid reinforced retaining walls have been used widely in many fields
because of their many merits. At present, lakeshore walls, bank slopes, docks,
bridge abutments and dams are made of reinforced soil retaining walls. The
flexibility of this reinforced structure improves its seismic resistance capacity,
which has been validated and recognized during recent earthquakes such as
Chi-Chi earthquake of Taiwan in 1999, Kobe earthquake of Japan in 1995 and
so on. Protruding swelling deformation and overturning multiple damage
occurred respectively (2000) for geogrid reinforced retaining walls in

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earthquake. Then, its seismic behaviors have become an academic research


mainstream. Broad discussions about the seismic design and behavior reaction
of the reinforced retaining wall were caused by global geotechnical engineering
research communities. Quality of the soil in the sea or river bank slope is poor,
and filling materials of the geo-grid reinforced retaining wall contain loose sand,
which can cause excess pore water pressure under the shearing action of
earthquake wave, demineralizes the soil, and weaken the seismic resistance
mechanism. As a result, the seismic resistance mechanism of the geo-grid
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reinforced retaining wall is still an assignment worth studying. As for this aspect,
efficient functioning of reinforced soil retaining walls during the recent
catastrophicearthquakes is observed and reported in literature(Tatsuoka et al.,
1995; Sandri, 1997; Kramer and Paulsen,2001; Tatsuoka et al., 2007)
Izawa (2010) tested the effect of the stability of the geo-grid reinforced
retaining wall under saturated condition of backfill sand by conducting
centrifuge shaking table tests.

1. Test System and Equipment

Experiment location was in the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation


Laboratory of Nanjing University of Technology. This laboratory is equipped
with an earthquake simulation shaking table by electro-hydraulic energy, which
is totally produced by MTS and uses its control system. The mesa size of the
shaking table is 3.36m x 4.86m, and vibration direction is horizontal and
unidirectional, and maximum load of it is 25t with a maximum horizontal
displacement of ±120mm. The maximum horizontal velocity is ±500mm/s,
maximum horizontal acceleration is ±1.0g; and operating frequency is
0.1~50Hz.
The research group has developed its own 98-channel dynamic signal
acquisition system, which can meet the need in measuring signals like
accelerations of backfill in the geo-grid layer and the foundation soil,
acceleration of the wall, strains of the wall and geo-grid,  horizontal
displacement of the wall, excess water pressure inside or outside of the geo-grid
layer and in foundation soil, earth pressure on the back of wall, tension of the
grid and sedimentation of the backfill soil surface. This system needs various
kinds of sensors and the total number of the signal acquisition channels is 83. In
this test, accelerometers and displacement meters were made in German and
Japan, and earth pressure meters, strain meters and pore pressure meters were
made in China.
The test is conducted by the self-developed 15-layers laminated shear model
soil box, and the size of it is 3.5m(lengthwise direction)×2.0m(cross direction)
×1.7m(vertical direction). Shear model soil box can appropriately simulate the
free boundary condition of soil in vibration direction, and can truly reflect the
shear deformation of soil. 
 
2. Test Model

2.1 . Similarity ratio design

Froude constant of Bockingham  theorem in dimensional analysis theory can


be expressed with the soil shear wave velocity. The shear wave velocity of the

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test model site soil is about 75 m/s tested by  seismic lateral expansion
instrument SDMT, which is simulated to 150 m/s of representative prototype
site. According to the formula, the geometric similarity ratio S l of the test model
is 1/4. Based on time similarity relations( S t  S l / S a , S a is the acceleration
similarity ratio, S t   is time similarity ratio), the time similarity ratio of the
foundation soil in the model is 5.0. Thereby, geometric similarity ratio and other
similarity ratio of each variable can be deduced.
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2.2. Test model

The size of the reinforced retaining wall used in the test is 70(height)
×5 cm(width). The groundwater level is 5cm below the ground surface. The
clay of 50 cm below the base is to reduce the water penetration of the backfill
sand. The material of the wall in the test model is mainly made up of low
resistance concrete and a grade reinforced bar. Coarse aggregate of the concrete
is relatively small size gravel particle, and fine aggregate of the concrete is fine
sand. By adjusting their mixture ratio, the reasonable elastic modulus
requirements can be achieved. The unit weigtht of the wall model is 19kN/m3.
The geo-grid is a kind of relatively low strength geo-grid, which is produced by
Huatai Geosynthetics Corporation in Yixing, and the type is TGDG60. When
the extensibility of this geo-grid reaches 2%, the pulling force of it is 15kN/m.
The distribution form is horizontal, and the spacing distance is 15cm. The
reinforced length is 70cm, which is the same as wall height. The test model is
shown in FIG.1. The backfill sand is Nanjing fine sand, which is prepared by
submerging in water. The particle size distribution of the fine sand is shown in
Table.1.
W pore water pressure gauge A accelerometer

L-steel frame D displacement meter P earth pressure gauge


S strain gauge

wall
A3-5 DV1 DV2
DH5 S10-1 S10-2 S10-3 S10-4
S9-1 S9-2 S9-3 S9-4
P1-5 W1-5 A1-5 W2-5 A2-5
DH4 S8-1 S8-2 S8-3 S8-4
S7-1 S7-2 S7-3 S7-4
DH3 A3-3
P1-4 W1-4 A1-4 geogrid
S6-1 S6-2 S6-3 S6-4
S5-1 S5-2 S5-3 S5-4
DH2 P1-3 W1-3 A1-3 W2-3 A2-3
S4-1 S4-2 S4-3 S4-4
S3-1 S3-2 S3-3 S3-4 sand
DH1 P1-2 W1-2 A1-2
A3-1 S2-1 S2-2 S2-3 S2-4
S1-1 S1-2 S1-3 S1-4
P1-1 W1-1 A1-1 W2-1 A2-1

1
base
clay
clay

 
FIG.1 Shaking table test model of geo-grid reinforced retaining wall
(model dimensions: cm)
 

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Table 1 Grain composition of Nanjing fine sand


 
Characteristics of particle size Non-uniform Curvature
/mm coefficient coefficient
d60 d50 d30 d10 Cu Cc
0.18 0.16 0.12 0.08 2.31 1.07
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2.3. Test conditions

According to the test purpose, a Songpan earthquake motion (SP wave) of


Wenchuan earthquake from a far field is applied. The acceleration recording and
the spectrum are shown in FIG.2. In order to make the pore pressure in the
foundation soil completely disappear before loading the next condition, the
interval of adjacent loading is 30min. Specific load intensities will be valued as
0.2g,0.3g and 0.5g.
0.002

Amplitude (m/s)
0.04
Acceleration(g)

SP
0.02 SP
0.001
0.00

-0.02

-0.04
0.000
0 50 100 150 200 0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Frequency (Hz)
Time(s)      
(a) Acceleration recording (b) Fourier spectrum
FIG.2 Acceleration recording and Fourier spectrum

3. Test Results and Analysis

3.1 Wall accelerations and spectrum responses

Seismic acceleration time history and Fourier spectrum distribution of the


various parts of the reinforced wall are shown in FIG.3 under the Songpan
far-field wave, whose intensity is 0.3g. Test points from bottom to up part of the
wall were recorded as A3-1、A3-3 and A3-5. As is shown in the figure, wall
accelerations shows amplification effect from bottom part to up part of wall.
During the  propagation of seismic wave in the wall, the spectrum distribution
has been greatly changed.  The fourier spectrum of the wall presents a kind of
symmetrical distribution form.  The spectrum value at 4Hz is at the maximum.
Symmetrical distribution is based on the middle value of 4Hz. The distribution
characters of the Fourier spectrum at different locations of wall are consistent.
The range of the whole vibration frequency is narrow. The spectrum value at the
wall top (A3-5) is maximum, and the spectrum value at the wall bottom (A3-1)
is minimum.

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0.025
0.3 SPA3-1
0.2 0.020
A3-1

-1
0.1

a /g

FFT/ms
0.015
0.0
-0.1 0.010

-0.2 0.005
-0.3
0.000
0 20 40 60 80 100 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14
t /s f / Hz
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0.10

0.08 SPA3-3
0.6

-1
0.4 0.06

FFT/ms
A3-3
0.2
a /g

0.04
0.0
-0.2 0.02
-0.4
-0.6 0.00
0 20 40 60 80 100 0 2 4 6 8 10
t /s f / Hz
0.14

0.8 0.12
SPA3-5
0.6 0.10

-1
0.4 A3-5
FFT/ms
0.08
0.2
a /g

0.06
0.0
-0.2 0.04
-0.4 0.02
-0.6 0.00
0 20 40 60 80 100 0 2 4 6 8 10 12
t /s f / Hz
FIG.3 Responses of wall accelerations and spectra in different positions

3.2. Deformation responses of reinforced wall

The time history curve of lateral deformation of the reinforced wall top is
shown in FIG.4 under different earthquake intensities of SP wave. Amplitude
distribution of lateral deformation along the reinforced wall height is shown in
FIG.5 under near-field and far-field earthquake waves.  DH1, DH2 and DH3
correspond respectively to the bottom, middle and top of the wall. As is shown
in the figure, the deformation of the reinforced retaining wall is like the flexion
and bulking deformation mode. The higher the earthquake intensity is, the
greater the deformation is, and the deformation of the wall top(DH3) is at the
maximum. When the earthquake intensity is relatively high, the deformation of
wall is nearly slid outwards. Lateral deformation caused by far-field earthquake
wave is the greatest, and that caused by middle-far field earthquake wave is
smaller, and that caused by near-field earthquake wave is smallest.

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0.04 0.2g
0.03 0.3g
0.02 0.5g
0.01

Sh /m
0.00
-0.01
-0.02
-0.03
-0.04
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0 20 40 60 80 100
t /s
FIG.4 Lateral displacement time history of geogrid-reinforced wall top
0.7

H /m 0.4

SF-0.3g
0.1 TA-0.3g
SP-0.3g

0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0


S/cm
FIG.5 Lateral peak displacement with different depth of reinforced wall

3.3. Settlements of backfill sand

The time histories of the settlement on backfill sand surfaces are shown in
FIG.6 in the reinforced area and non-reinforced area under SP-0.3g earthquake
wave. As is obviously shown in the figure, the soil settlement in the reinforced
area is much smaller than that in non-reinforced area, and the former is only
about the half value of the latter. It is shown that the geo-grid can effectively
decrease the seismic settlement of the backfill soil and this kind of reinforced
structure has good seismic resistance ability.
t /s
0 20 40 60 80 100
0.00
-0.04
-0.08
-0.12
Sv/m

-0.16
-0.20
-0.24 reinforced zone
-0.28 unreinforced zone

FIG.6 Vertical displacement time history of geogrid-reinforced soil top

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4 CONCLUSIONS

The seismic responses of a geogrid reinforced retaining wall was investigated


by a large-scale shaking table test, and a laminar shear container was used to
install the test model of geo-grid reinforced retaining wall, and the similarity
criterion of the test model was confirmed by Froude constant in dimensional
analysis theory. The main conclusions are as follows:
(1) Wall accelerations shows amplification effect from bottom part to up part
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of wall, and the distributions of Fourier spectra of the wall are symmetrical. The
distribution of Fourier spectrum of the reinforced wall at different locations is
consistent. The whole vibration frequency range becomes narrow. The value of
the Fourier spectrum of the wall top is the greatest, and that of the bottom of the
wall is the smallest.
(2) The deformation of the reinforced retaining wall is like the flexion and
bulking deformation mode. The deformation of the wall top is the greatest. The
higher the earthquake intensity is, the greater the deformation is. When the
earthquake intensity is high, the deformation of the wall is almost slid outwards.
(3)Settlement value of backfill soil surface in the area of reinforced backfill
surface is half of that of the non-reinforced area. It is shown that the geo-grid
can effectively decrease the seismic settlement of the backfill soil and this kind
of reinforced structure has good seismic resistance ability.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors appreciate the support of National Natural Science Foundation of


China (No. 51109099) and National Science Foundation for Post-doctoral
Scientists of China (No.2011M50906)

REFERENCES

Huang, C.C. (2000). “Investigations of soil retaining structures damaged during


the Chi-Chi (Taiwan) earthquake.” Journal of the Chinese Institute of
Engineers, 23(4), 417-428.
J. Izawa and J. Kuwano.(2008). “Centrifuge shaking table tests on saturated
reinforced soil walls.” Proceedings of the 4th Asian Regional Conference on
Geosynthetics, June 17-20, Shanghai, China.
Kramer, S.L., Paulsen, S.(2001). “Seismic performance of MSE structures in
Washington State.” In: Proceedings of International Geosynthetic Engineering
Forum 2001, Taipei, Taiwan, 145-173.
Race, R., del Cid, H.( 2001). “Seismic performance of modular block retaining
wall structures during the January 2001 El Salvador earthquake. ” In: Proc. Int.
Geosynthetics Eng. Forum, Taipei, Taiwan.
Sandri, D.(1997). “A performance summary of reinforced soil structures inthe
greater Los Angeles area after the Northridge earthquake.” Geotextiles and
Geomembranes ,15 (4-6), 235-253.
Tatsuoka, F., Koseki, J., Tateyama, M.(1995). “Performance of geogrid
reinforced soil retaining walls during the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, 17
January 1995.” In: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on
Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering, IS-Tokyo’95, Tokyo, Japan, pp. 55-62.

Advances in Soil Dynamics and Foundation Engineering


Advances in Soil Dynamics and Foundation Engineering GSP 240 © ASCE 2014 524

Tatsuoka, F., Tateyama, M., Mohri, Y., Matsushima, K.(2007). “Remedial


treatment of soil structures using geosynthetic-reinforcing technology.”
Geotextiles and Geomembranes, 25 (4-5), 204-220.
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