• A Bio-Wicking System to Mitigate Capillary Water in Base Course

      Lin, Chuang; Zhang, Xiong (Center for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation in Cold Climates, 2016-11)
      Water within pavement layers is the major cause of pavement deteriorations. High water content results in significant reduction in soil’s resilient behavior and increase in permanent deformation. Conventional drainage systems can only drain gravity water but not capillary water. Both preliminary lab and field tests have proven the drainage efficiency of a newly developed H2Ri geotextile with wicking fabrics. This bio-wicking system aims at resolving the potential issues that the original design may encounter: (1) H2Ri ultraviolet degradation, (2) H2Ri mechanical failure, (3) loss of drainage function under high suction, and (4) clogging and salt concentration. Both elemental level and full-scale test results indicated that the bio-wicking system is more effective in draining capillary water within the base courses compared with original design, in which the geotextile is directly exposed to the open air. However, a good drainage condition is required for the bio-wicking system to maintain its drainage efficiency. Accumulation of excess water will result in water re-entering the road embankment. Moreover, grass root and geotextile share the same working mechanism in transporting water. In the proposed bio-wicking system, the relatively smaller channels in the grass roots further ensures water moving from H2Ri geotextile, transporting through the stems of grass, and eventually evapo-transpiring into the air at the leaf-air interfaces. In sum, the bio-wicking system seemed to successfully address the concerns in the preliminary design and is a more efficient system to dehydrate the road embankment under unsaturated conditions.
    • Development of Landslide Warning System

      Riad, Beshoy; Zhang, Xiong (2019-11)
      Landslides cause approximately 25 to 50 deaths and US$1 - 2 billion worth of damage in the United States annually. They can be triggered by humans or by nature. It has been widely recognized that rainfall is one of the major causes of slope instability and failure. Slope remediation and stabilization efforts can be costly. An early warning system is a suitable alternative and can save human lives. In this project, an early warning system was developed for a 40-foot-high cut slope on the island of Hawaii. To achieve the objective, subsurface investigations were performed and undisturbed samples were collected. For the purpose of unsaturated soil testing, new testing apparatuses were developed by modifying the conventional oedometer and direct shear cells. The unsaturated soil was characterized using two separate approaches and, later, the results were discussed and compared. The slope site was instrumented for the measurement of suction, water content, displacement, and precipitation. The collected climatic data along with the calibrated hydraulic parameters were used to build an infiltration-evapotranspiration numerical model. The model estimations were compared with the field measurements and showed good agreement. The verified model was used to determine the pore-water pressure distribution during and after a 500-years return storm. Later, the pore-water pressure distribution was transferred to a slope stability software and used to study the slope stability during and after the storm. Based on a 2D slope stability analysis, the slope can survive the 500-year storm with a factor of safety of 1.20. Instrument threshold values were established for water content sensors and tensiometers using a traffic-light-based trigger criterion.