Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. L. Sebastian Bryson


Compacted shales cause problems because they tend to degrade with time due to weathering. Degradation results in the shale deteriorating from a hard rock-like material to a soft fine-grained soil mass with lower shear strength and high deformability. Consequently, common problems that occur in embankments constructed with compacted shales include settlement and instabilities. Therefore, accelerating weathering prior to compaction by wetting and breaking down the shales before placement can reduce the deterioration during the service life of the construction. Extensive laboratory testing was performed in order to characterize the mechanical behavior of compacted shales.

Critical State theory is a clever framework that describes the mechanical behavior of soils with a simple system of equations that explains all the aspects of compression and shear of soils. NorSand is a model constructed in the framework of the Critical State theory that decouples the yield loci from the normally consolidated line. This characteristic made this model suitable for compacted shales. Also, empirical evidence showed that the plastic behavior of compacted shales is controlled by a Nova type flow rule that is a function of the mineralogical characteristics of the shales. This finding has implications in the shape of the yield loci and the hardening rule.