Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

First Advisor

Dr. L. Sebastian Bryson

Second Advisor

Dr. Edward W. Woolery


Depositional processes are the most critical, complicated conditions that govern sediment properties and their variations, which in turn significantly affect the geotechnical behavior of the sediment. The complexity of depositional and post-depositional processes, which results in a variety of depositional environments, makes constructing a plausible model for the consolidation process of sediments difficult. The mutual influence between the temporal and spatial variation of depositional environments with their resultant physical and mechanical properties cause several compression issues, such as consolidation settlement and land subsidence, which mostly occur in estuarine-riverine regions throughout the world.

The first aim of this study is proposing a new grain-size based scheme to classify unconsolidated inorganic sediments that cover a wide range of natural depositional environments with a special emphasis on fine-grained deposits. The proposed classification depends on the linear relationship between percent Fines and the silt fraction. By combining grain size characteristics and plasticity, the proposed scheme provides further characterization of depositional environments. The proposed scheme extends the utility of the scheme beyond simply classifying the sediment class, towards inferring the potential mechanical behavior of sediments having various Grain Size Distribution (GSD) proportions and mineralogy.

Addressing elastic wave properties as a geotechnical parameter, in particular, shear wave velocities to determine the mechanical behavior of sediments is because is strongly influenced by the change in those physical state properties during compression and cementation processes. This study presents a continuous function that explicitly uses shear wave velocity to predict the non-linear function of consolidation process (e -log p'),

This approach also defines factors that describe the depositional environment, such as grain size and plasticity limits. These factors are shown to influence and control the e -log p' relationship. Thus, the resulting function is shown to be applicable to a variety of sedimentary materials.

Also, in this dissertation, elastic shear-wave velocity under critical state framework was employed. A shear wave-based constitutive model was developed that is able to predict the stress-strain behavior of a normally consolidated sediments, under undrained loading. A new power-type relationship that predicts the shear strength behavior and critical stress paths of fine-grained sediments under undrained conditions. Also, it investigates the reliability of the link between input model parameters with the basic properties of a variety of fine-grained sediments. As importance of measuring of elastic wave velocities, a number of soil tests performed during particular construction stages can be reduced and compensated. This reduces the cost of evaluating the stability level, monitoring stress path distributions, and determining undrained shear strength behavior during particular stages of the construction process. The study also provides correlations that can be applied in various fine-grained depositional environments that have weak, fine-grained soil layers, on which the constructions are built.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

The High Committee of Education Development in Iraq, (HCED).