Large-Scale Rainfall Simulation and Cyclic Plate Loading Test of Wicking Geotextile-Stabilized Base


The detrimental effects of moisture on roadway performance are well-known, thus drainage is crucial to roadway performance. Open-graded aggregates or non-wicking geotextiles are often used as drainage layers in a roadway system. These drainage layers rely on hydraulic gradient to remove water and are only effective under a high degree of saturation. Partially saturated soil can still contain too much moisture and be problematic to roadway performance. An innovative geotextile, the wicking geotextile, contains deep-grooved wicking fibers that can generate suction hence enable the wicking geotextile to remove moisture from unsaturated geomaterials. To verify the unsaturated drainage effect of the wicking geotextile on the mechanical behavior of a road section, three large-scale cyclic plate loading tests were conducted in this study. Each test was comprised of a 0.3 m thick base course over a 0.9 m thick subgrade. The three sections included a control section, a non-wicking geotextile-stabilized section, and a wicking geotextile-stabilized section. Geotextiles were installed at the base course-subgrade interface. Each section first underwent a rainfall simulation and then a 6-day drainage period. Cyclic plate loading tests were conducted at the end of the drainage period. The amounts of water distributed over and exited from the section during and after the rainfall simulation were recorded. The permanent deformations of the cyclic plate loading tests were measured to evaluate the performance of the roadway section. The test results show that the wicking geotextile provided fast drainage in the base layer and improved the performance of the roadway section in the cyclic plate loading test significantly.

Meeting Name

8th International Conference on Case Histories in Geotechnical Engineering: Geoenvironmental Engineering and Sustainability, Geo-Congress 2019 (2019: Mar. 24-27, Philadelphia, PA)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Drainage; Geotechnical engineering; Moisture; Rain, Control sections; Degree of saturations; Hydraulic gradients; Mechanical behavior; Partially saturated soils; Permanent deformations; Plate loading tests; Rainfall simulations, Geotextiles

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International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

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© 2019 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Mar 2019