Unsaturated conditions (where soil pores are partly filled with and partly filled with air) occur widely both in natural soils and fills, where soil is used as a construction material. The hydro-mechanical behaviour of unsaturated soils is considerably more complex than that of saturated soils, and understanding within unsaturated soil mechanics lag considerably behind the state of-the-art in saturated soil mechanics. This is a significant limitation, because the hydro-mechanical behaviour of unsaturated soils is crucial to many applications in civil engineering (e.g. damage to structures founded on unsaturated soils and performance of flood embankments and earth dams), the nuclear industry (design of underground waste repositories), geohazards engineering (slope instabilities) and geo-environmental engineering (pollution migration and containment).The first objective of the proposed Network on Mechanics of Unsaturated Soils for Engineering is to generate an unrivalled database of suction-controlled experimental data on the engineering behaviour of different categories of unsaturated soils, including complex soils such as expansive clays and cemented soils. Experimental results will be used in the development and validation of improved constitutive models accounting for complex aspects of behaviour. Constitutive models will be implemented in FE programs and this will form part of a process of developing improved numerical capabilities for analysing coupled boundary value problems. The final objective is to demonstrate and validate the application of the constitutive and numerical modelling capabilities to a range of practical problems by simulating case histories and field trials. A particular feature of the Network is benchmarking of laboratory techniques, constitutive models and FE codes i.e. investigating the robustness of a particular approach by showing whether the same results are achieved by different teams or using different procedures, models or code...
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