Advanced in-situ and laboratory characterisation of the ALPACA chalk research site
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2022

Low-to-medium density chalk at St Nicholas at Wade, UK, is characterised by intensive testing to inform the interpretation of axial and lateral tests on driven piles. The chalk de-structures when taken to large strains, especially under dynamic loading, leading to remarkably high pore pressures beneath penetrating CPT and driven pile tips, weak putty annuli around their shafts and degraded responses in full-displacement pressuremeter tests. Laboratory tests on carefully formed specimens explore the chalk's unstable structure and markedly time and rate-dependent mechanical behaviour. A clear hierarchy is found between profiles of peak strength with depth of Brazilian tension (BT), drained and undrained triaxial and direct simple shear (DSS) tests conducted from in-situ stress conditions. Highly instrumented triaxial tests reveal the chalk's unusual effective stress paths, markedly brittle failure behaviour from small strains and the effects of consolidating to higher than in-situ stresses. The chalk's mainly sub-vertical jointing and micro-fissuring leads to properties depending on specimen scale, with in-situ mass stiffnesses falling significantly below high-quality laboratory measurements and vertical Young's moduli exceeding horizontal stiffnesses. While compressive strength and stiffness appear relatively insensitive to effective stress levels, consolidation to higher pressures closes micro-fissures, increases stiffness and reduces anisotropy.

piles & piling

laboratory testing


in situ testing

site investigation

full-scale pile testing


Ken Vinck

Imperial College London

Reza Ahmadi Naghadeh

Imperial College London

Tingfa Liu

Imperial College London

Richard J. Jardine

Imperial College London

Stavroula Kontoe

Imperial College London

Róisín M. Buckley

University of Glasgow

Byron W. Byrne

University of Oxford


0016-8505 (ISSN) 17517656 (eISSN)

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