Investigation on the mechanical behavior of track-bed materials at various contents of coarse grains

Han Lin Wang, Yu Jun Cui, Francisco Lamas-Lopez, Nicolas Calon, Gilles Saussine, Jean Claude Dupla, Jean Canou, Patrick Aimedieu, Ren Peng Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


In the conventional French railway substructures, a layer namely interlayer was created naturally by the interpenetration of ballast and subgrade. The lower part of this interlayer is characterized by a matrix of fines with inclusion of coarse grains in it. Moreover, the coarse-grain content is decreasing over depth. In this study, the effect of volumetric content of coarse grains fv (volumetric ratio of coarse grains to the whole sample; grain size > 2 mm) on the mechanical behavior of the lower part interlayer soil was investigated by carrying out monotonic triaxial tests. The results showed that increasing the volumetric content of coarse grains fv led to more significant dilatancy. The shear strength also increased with the increase of fv and the increasing trend appeared to be much more significant when fv >20%. Examination of the variations of peak deviator stress with fv revealed the existence of a characteristic value of fv-cha ≈ 27% that separates two zones with different coarse-grain effects: a fine-fine contact dominating zone when fv ≤ 27% and a grain-grain contact dominating zone when fv > 27%. To clarify the observed phenomena, X-ray microcomputed tomography (μCT) scans were performed on the as-compacted samples, allowing the coarse-grain distribution inside the as-compacted sample to be visualized. It was found that when fv ranged from 0% to 10%, the skeleton of the sample was mainly constituted by fines with the coarse grains floating in the fines matrix. By contrast, when fv reached 20%, the coarse grains formed some aggregates but the fine-fine contacts were still dominating. When fv increased up to 35%–45%, the skeleton of the sample turned to be dominated by the coarse grains. This suggests that the characteristic volumetric content of coarse grains identified through monotonic triaxial test results corresponds to the transition of soil fabric from fine-fine contacts to grain-grain contacts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-237
Number of pages10
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Characteristic volumetric content of coarse grains
  • Conventional track-bed
  • Interlayer soil
  • Monotonic triaxial tests
  • X-ray microcomputed tomography (μCT) scans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)

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