Indentation of a Sensitive Clay by a Flat-Ended Axisymmetrical Punch

  • Mireille Sandrine Ewane
  • Vincenzo Silvestri
  • Michael James
Original Paper


This paper presents a description and the results of instrumented macro-scale laboratory indentation testing of Champlain Sea Clay with a stainless steel, flat-tipped, cylindrical indenter. The results of the tests were analyzed using published analytical solutions for the indentation testing of elastic–plastic materials. The relationship between the depth of indentation, h, and the load on the indenter, P, the hardness, the undrained shear strength and the Young’s modulus of the clay were determined from these methods. The undrained shear strength and Young’s modulus were compared to values from conventional geotechnical testing. Indentation testing was simulated numerically using the finite element method. The clay was modelled using the conventional Mohr–Coulomb elastic–plastic model. The distribution of total vertical stress below the indenter from the simulations compared well with an analytical solution based on elastic theory. The simulations using material properties derived from the conventional geotechnical tests (Set 1) and derived from the indentation testing (Set 2) with a Poisson’s ratio of 0.49 (undrained loading) did not produce load-penetration (Ph) curves in good agreement with the curves from indentation testing. However, simulations with the material properties derived from indentation testing and a Poisson’s ratio of 0.2 (drained loading), produced load-penetration curves in good agreement with the indentation testing results.


Indentation tests Cylindrical flat-ended indenter Champlain Sea clay Elastic–plastic Numerical simulation 



The authors express their gratitude to the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for the financial support received during this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mireille Sandrine Ewane
    • 1
  • Vincenzo Silvestri
    • 1
  • Michael James
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Civil, Geological, and Mining EngineeringÉcole PolytechniqueMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Research Institute on Mines and Environment UQAT- PolytechniqueRouyn-NorandaCanada

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