Shear strength and shear stiffness analysis of compacted Wyoming-type bentonite
Journal article, 2023

Wyoming-type bentonite is one of the materials to be used as part of the Engineered Barrier System (EBS) in deep geological disposal facilities for the safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel. In the KBS-3 type repository, the canisters containing the spent fuel assemblies are surrounded by bentonite buffer. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the bentonite behaviour in shearing conditions for the long-term performance assessment of the canisters. Bentonite shearing could arise, for example, due to potential post-glacial earthquakes. The deviatoric stress at failure and the shear modulus of a compacted Wyoming-type bentonite were measured using different shearing tests. Tests were carried out on unsaturated samples at three laboratories. The shearing tests on unsaturated samples were unconfined and triaxial compression tests, hollow cylinder tests and simple shear tests. Unconfined and triaxial compression tests were also carried out on saturated samples. The failure was quite ductile when tests were carried out with confining pressure. The samples were compacted at different dry densities and degrees of saturation and tested at different confining pressures and strain levels to study their influence on the shear properties. Shear strength and shear modulus were studied based on models that consider the double porosity structure of the bentonites. Previously published triaxial tests and resonant column test results were also included in this study. In combination with these models, several alternatives for the definition of the constitutive stress were checked for the case of bentonite. A novel, approach, involving the results of mercury intrusion porosimetry in estimating the constitutive stress, was introduced. The shear strength calculated by the models showed a good agreement with the measured values. In some cases, unrealistic large tensile stresses were predicted. Furthermore, the models can assess the tendency of the shear modulus as a function of the shear strain, degree of saturation and dry density.

Triaxial test

Shear strength

Constitutive stress

Hollow cylinder test

Simple shear test

Mercury intrusion porosimetry

Bishop's stress



X. Pintado

Mitta Oy

S. Kumpulainen

Mitta Oy

E. Romero

Polytechnic University of Catalonia

The International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE)

A. Lloret

Polytechnic University of Catalonia

The International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE)

R. C. Weber

University of Taquari Valley (UNIVATES)

A. Ferrari

University of Palermo

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL)

M. V. Villar

Centro de Investigaciones Energeticas, Medioambientales y Tecnologicas (Ciemat)

Ayman Abed

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Geology and Geotechnics

W. Solowski

Aalto University

V. Heino


Geomechanics for Energy and the Environment

23523808 (eISSN)

Vol. 34 100468

Subject Categories

Geotechnical Engineering



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3/7/2024 9