Impact of multiple drying–wetting cycles on shear behaviour of an unsaturated compacted clay

  • Rui Chen
  • Tao XuEmail author
  • Weidong Lei
  • Yanru Zhao
  • Jie Qiao
Original Article


Experimental investigations on the impact of multiple drying–wetting cycles on mechanical behaviour of unsaturated soils, particularly on shear behaviour, are limited. Suction-controlled direct shear tests were carried out to investigate the impact of multiple drying–wetting cycles on shear behaviour of an unsaturated compacted clay. One drying–wetting cycle was applied on a soil specimen by increasing its suction to 400 kPa followed by returning its suction to 1 or 200 kPa at constant vertical stress. The experimental results showed that more significant volume contraction occurred during the first drying–wetting cycle as compared with the subsequent drying–wetting cycles. At higher net normal stress (i.e. 200 kPa), a transition from shear-induced contraction to dilation was found. Nevertheless, such transition from contraction to dilation was not observed for the specimens at lower net normal stress (i.e. 50 kPa). The results also showed that amplitude of drying–wetting cycles and vertical stress influences the shear strength. The shear strength increases slightly after the first drying–wetting cycle at lower net normal stress; at higher net normal stress the effect of the first cycle on the shear strength is contrast.


Suction history Drying–wetting cycle Clay Suction Hydro-mechanical behaviour Direct shear test 



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from research Grants no. 51578196 provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the research Grants no. JCYJ20170811160740635 and no. JCYJ20160531192824598 provided by the Shenzhen Science and Technology Innovation Commission. Particularly, the second author would like to acknowledge the scholarship funded by China Scholarship Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringHarbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen)ShenzhenChina
  2. 2.Laboratory of GeotechnicsGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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