Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 1187–1210 | Cite as

Trial Embankment Analysis to Predict Smear Zone Characteristics Induced by Prefabricated Vertical Drain Installation

  • Ali Parsa-Pajouh
  • Behzad FatahiEmail author
  • Philippe Vincent
  • Hadi Khabbaz
Original paper


In this study, FLAC finite difference software has been adopted to simulate the performance of the ground improved using prefabricated vertical drains assisted preloading, considering smear zone characteristics. The numerical code has been applied to predict smear zone properties employing a back calculation procedure using the results of several case studies. The construction of a trial embankment is proposed as a reliable method to predict the smear zone characteristics. The proposed back calculation method is applied to estimate the minimum required degree of consolidation and consequently the minimum required preloading time, resulting in a reliable estimation of the smear zone permeability and extent. Three preloading case studies considering both conventional preloading and vacuum assisted preloading have been simulated to verify the numerical code and to conduct the parametric study using the back calculation procedure. According to the results, the properties of the smear zone can be back-calculated reliably, when at least 33 % degree of consolidation due to trial embankment construction is achieved.


Vertical drain Smear zone Trial embankment Numerical modeling FLAC Soft soil Ballina clay 



This research has been supported by the Australian Research Council (LP0991643) and Menard-Bachy Pty Ltd. The Authors acknowledge their supports. Also, the authors wish to thank the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) of NSW for providing the field investigation and monitoring results.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ali Parsa-Pajouh
    • 1
  • Behzad Fatahi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Philippe Vincent
    • 2
  • Hadi Khabbaz
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Technology Sydney (UTS)Broadway, SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Menard Bachy Pty LtdSydneyAustralia

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