Click the title below to display the complete page!

Modelling compaction of agricultural subsoils by tracked heavy construction machinery at various moisture conditions


In recent years, agricultural land in Switzerland has been increasingly used as temporary access ways for heavy machinery in road and pipeline construction operations. The Swiss soil protection law requires that measures are taken to prevent soil compaction in such operations, but gives no criteria to determine tolerable loads. We studied the compaction sensitivity of a loess soil (Haplic Luvisol) at different soil moisture conditions in a field traffic experiment and by a numerical model on the computer using finite element analysis. Two plots, one wetted by sprinkling and one left dry (no sprinkling), were traversed by heavy caterpillar vehicles during construction of a large overland gas pipeline. Compaction effects were determined by comparing precompression stresses of samples taken from trafficked and non-trafficked soil. A finite element model with a constitutive relation, based on the concept of critical state soil mechanics, was used to interpret the outcome of the field trials. We found significantly higher precompression stresses in the trafficked (median 97 kPa) compared with the non-trafficked (median 41 kPa) topsoil of the wet plot. No effect was evident in the topsoil of the dry plot as well as in the subsoils of the wet and the dry plot. The observed compaction effects were in agreement with the model predictions if the soil was assumed to be partially drained, but disagreed for the wet subsoil if fully drained conditions were assumed. Agreement between model and experimental results also required that the moisture dependence of the precompression stress was taken into account.


Berli, M. and Kirby, M.J. and Springman, Sarah M. and Curtis, Jason

Index Terms:

Soil; modelling; subsoils; SoilGroup; Berli, M.; Curtis, Jason; Kirby, M.J.; Springman, Sarah M.

Further Information:

Date published: 2003