Artificial lightweight aggregates have a wide range of applications in industry and engineering. Nowadays, the usage of this material in geotechnical activities, especially as backfill in retaining walls has been growing due to the specific characteristics which make it a competent alternative to the conventional geotechnical materials. In practice, a material with lower weight but higher shear strength parameters would be ideal as backfill behind retaining walls because of the important roles that these parameters play in decreasing the overall active lateral earth pressure. In this study, two types of Light Expanded Clay Aggregates (LECA) produced in the Leca factory are investigated. LECA is made in a rotary kiln by heating natural clay at different temperatures up to 1200 °C making quasi-spherical aggregates with different sizes ranged from 0 to 25 mm. The loose bulk density of these aggregates is between 300 and 700 kN/m3. The purpose of this research is to determine the stress-strain behavior, shear strength parameters, and the energy absorption of LECA materials. Direct shear tests were conducted at five normal stresses of 25, 50, 75, 100, and 200 kPa. In addition, conventional triaxial compression tests were operated at confining pressures of 50, 100, and 200 kPa to examine stress-strain behavior. The experimental results show a high internal angle of friction and even a considerable amount of nominal cohesion despite the granular structure of LECA. These desirable properties along with the intrinsic low density of these aggregates make LECA as a very proper material in geotechnical applications. Furthermore, the results demonstrate that lightweight aggregates may have high energy absorption that is excellent alternative material in seismic isolations.
The under passing tunnels are strongly influenced by the soils around. There are some complexities in the specification of real soil behavior, owing to the fact that lots of uncertainties exist in soil properties, and additionally, inappropriate soil constitutive models. Such mentioned factors may cause incompatible settlements in numerical analysis with the obtained values in actual construction. This paper aims to report a case study on a specific tunnel constructed by NATM. The tunnel has a depth of 11.4 m, height of 12.2 m, and width of 14.4 m with 2.5 lanes. The numerical modeling was based on a 2D finite element program. The soil material behavior was modeled by hardening soil model. According to the field observations, the numerical estimated settlement at the ground surface was approximately four times more than the measured one, after the entire installation of the initial lining, indicating that some unknown factors affect the values. Consequently, the geotechnical parameters are accurately revised by a numerical back-analysis using laboratory and field test data and based on the obtained monitoring data. The obtained result confirms that typically, the soil parameters are conservatively low-estimated. And additionally, the constitutive models cannot be applied properly for all soil conditions.