Acta Geotechnica

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 457–471 | Cite as

Effects of sample disturbance and heterogeneity on the triaxial behaviour of a Canadian oil sand at ambient and high temperatures

  • Ewa Piotrowska
  • Morteza Mohamadi
  • Richard Wan
Research Paper


The present paper investigates the mechanical behaviour of oil sand specimens in triaxial compression tests at both ambient and elevated temperatures. The emphasis is particularly on core sample disturbance and on the multiphase/strongly heterogeneous nature of the material that introduces difficulties in achieving an objective characterization of its shear behaviour. First, the effect of sample disturbance on the behaviour of the oil sand is studied. Tests are performed on both disturbed and recompressed specimens. Recompression to large stress prior to shearing improves evaluation of the initial stiffness and associated volumetric changes of the oil sand, strongly affected by sample disturbance. A method for the correction of test results obtained from disturbed specimens is also proposed. The corrected results are in good agreement with those pertaining to recompressed specimens. Furthermore, a general classification of the tested oil sands into lean and rich in bitumen, where the former shows much softer and weaker behaviour, is considered to help in addressing the variability in sample composition. As for thermal aspects, the experimental results indicate that both strength and stiffness exhibit a limited temperature dependency. The temperature does not affect lean oil sand specimens, whereas heating considerably increases deformability of rich specimens.


High temperature Material heterogeneity Oil sand Sample disturbance Triaxial compression testing 



This work was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Foundation Computer Modelling Group.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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