Application of fractal theory to unsaturated soil mechanics
Front. Struct. Civ. Eng.. 2007, 1 (4): 411-421.
The mechanical properties of unsaturated soils are a function of the saturation degree or matric suction, and can be obtained based on currently available procedures. However, each procedure has its limitations and consequently, care should be taken in the selection of a proper procedure. The fractal approach seems to be a potentially useful tool to describe hierarchical systems and is suitable to model the structure and hydraulic properties of unsaturated soils. In this paper, the soil-water characteristics, unsaturated hydraulic conductivity function, unsaturated shear strength, swelling deformation and compression were derived from the fractal model for the pore-size distribution, and were expressed by only two independent physical parameters, the fractal dimension and the air entry value. The predictions of the proposed soil-water characteristics, unsaturated hydraulic conductivity, unsaturated shear strength, swelling deformation and compression were in good agreement with published experimental data. Comparisons between the experimental results of unsaturated hydraulic conductivity and the predictions of the both fractal model and the van Genuchten-Mualem model were also performed, and it was found that the predictions of the fractal model were better than that of the van Genuchten-Mualem model.
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