Skip to main content
Log in

Influence of Suction on the Interface Characteristics of Unsaturated Marginal Lateritic Soil Backfills with Composite Geosynthetics

International Journal of Geosynthetics and Ground Engineering Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Cite this article


To address the concern of low-permeable backfills, a composite type of geosynthetics (CGR) which can perform the functions of drainage and reinforcement can be used in MSE structures. In the present study, interface shear strength characteristics of CGR were examined using large direct shear tests (300 mm × 300 mm × 200 mm) with an emphasis on the influence of suction on soil–reinforcement interaction. The influence of rainfall infiltration on soil–soil and soil–reinforcement interface characteristics was also evaluated. Loss of matric suction within the soil was observed due to rainwater infiltration which reduced the shear strength. It was observed that when rainfall infiltration caused an increase of 4% water content (Δw =  + 4%), the apparent cohesion in soil due to suction (cs) was decreased by 71%. Whereas the corresponding reduction in apparent adhesion due to suction (ca(s)) was only 30% for CGR. Similarly, Δw =  + 6%, due to rainwater infiltration caused a reduction of 91% in cs of soil whereas it was 38% for ca(s) in CGR. Rate of increase in cs and ca(s) is non-linear with suction. This paper demonstrates the reduction in shear strength and interface shear strength to be accounted for rainfall-induced wetting, while considering the marginal lateritic soil as the backfill for reinforced soil slopes/MSE walls.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14

Data Availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article.



Mechanically stabilized earth


Federal highway administration


National concrete masonry association


Optimum moisture content


Lateritic soil


Unified soil classification system


American society for testing and materials


Soil water charateristic curve


Geosynthetic water characteristic curve


Composite geosynthetic reinforcement

\({\uptau }_{ff}\) :

Shear stress developed on the failure plane at failure (kN/m2)

\(c^{\prime }\) :

Effective cohesion (kN/m2)

\(c_{a}^{\prime }\) :

Adhesion intercept (kN/m2)

\({\sigma }_{n}\) :

Total normal stress (kN/m2)

\({u}_{a}\) :

Pore air pressure (kN/m2)

\(\phi ^{\prime }\) :

Effective angle of internal friction (degree)

\({\updelta }^{\mathrm{^{\prime}}}\) :

Interface friction angle (degree)

\({u}_{w}\) :

Pore water pressure (kN/m2)

\({\varphi }^{b}\) :

Angle indicating the rate of change of shear strength in relation to the variation in matric suction

\(\uptheta\) :

Volumetric water content in the soil (m3/m3)

\(\mathrm{\theta r}\) :

Residual volumetric water content of the soil (m3/m3)

θs :

Saturated volumetric water content (m3/m3)

\({\mathrm{c}}_{s}\) :

Suction induced cohesion (kN/m2)

\({\mathrm{c}}_{a(s)}\) :

Suction induced adhesion (kN/m2)


Soil suction (kN/m2)


Scale parameter of soil water characteristic curve


Shape parameter of soil water characteristic curve


Shape parameter of soil water characteristic curve

\(\uppsi\) :

Matric suction (kN/m2)

\({\uprho }_{w}\) :

Density of water in Mg/m3

he :

Elevation of the strip above the water level (m)


Gravitational acceleration (m/s2)

w :

Gravimetric moisture content corresponding to as compacted condition (%)

Δw :

Increase in gravimetric moisture content due to rainfall induced wetting (%)


  1. Elias V, Christopher BR, Berg RR (2001) FHWA-NHI-00–043. Mechanically stabilized earth walls and reinforced soil slopes design & construction guidelines. National Highway Institute, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.

  2. Zornberg JG, Mitchell JK (1994) Reinforced soil structures with poorly draining backfills. Part I: reinforcement interactions and functions. Geosynth Int 1(2):103–147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. NCMA (2009) Design manual for segmental retaining walls, 3rd edn. National Concrete Masonry Association, Herndon, Virginia, USA

    Google Scholar 

  4. Koerner RM, Koerner GR (2011) The importance of drainage control for geosynthetic reinforced mechanically stabilized earth walls. J Geoengin 6(1):3–13.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Koerner RM, Koerner GR (2013) A data base, statistics and recommendations regarding 171 failed geosynthetic reinforced mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls. Geotext Geomembr 40:20–27.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Koerner RM, Koerner GR (2018) An extended data base and recommendations regarding 320 failed geosynthetic reinforced mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls. Geotext Geomembr 46(6):904–912.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bhattacherjee D, Viswanadham BVS (2015) Numerical studies on the performance of hybrid-geosynthetic-reinforced soil slopes subjected to rainfall. Geosynth Int 22(6):411–427.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Balakrishnan S, Viswanadham BVS (2016) Performance evaluation of geogrid reinforced soil walls with marginal backfills through centrifuge model tests. Geotext Geomembr 44(1):95–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Miyata Y, Bathurst RJ (2007) Development of the K-stiffness method for geosynthetic reinforced soil walls constructed with c-φ soils. Can Geotech J 44(12):1391–1416.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Miki H (1997) Reinforcing mechanism and analysis method of geotextile reinforced embankment. Report of public works research institute, Ministry of Construction, Tsukuba, Japan, 197

  11. Portelinha FHM, Zornberg JG, Pimentel V (2014) Field performance of retaining walls reinforced with woven and nonwoven geotextiles. Geosynth Int 21(4):270–284.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Raisinghani DV, Viswanadham BVS (2010) Evaluation of permeability characteristics of a geosynthetic-reinforced soil through laboratory tests. Geotext Geomembr 28(6):579–588.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Raisinghani DV, Viswanadham BVS (2011) Centrifuge model study on low permeable slope reinforced by hybrid geosynthetics. Geotext Geomembr 29(6):567–580.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Vibha S, Divya PV (2020) Mechanically stabilized earth structures with alternate backfills for highway structures. In: International Conference on geoenvironment and sustainability, vol 1, pp 338–345

  15. Vibha S, Divya PV (2021) Performance of geosynthetic reinforced MSE walls with marginal backfills at the onset of rainfall infiltration. Int J Geosynth Ground Eng 7(1):1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Basudhar PK (2010) Modeling of soil–woven geotextile interface behavior from direct sheartestresults. Geotext Geomembr 28(4):403–408.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Moraci N, Cazzuffi D, Calvarano LS, Cardile G, Gioffrè D, Recalcati P (2014) The influence of soil type on interface behavior under pullout conditions. Geosynthetics 32(3):42–50

    Google Scholar 

  18. Choudhary AK, Krishna AM (2016) Experimental investigation of interface behavior of different types of soil/geosynthetics. Int J Geosynth Ground Eng.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Mirzaalimohammadi A, Ghazavi M, Lajevardi SH, Roustaei M (2021) Experimental investigation on pullout behavior of geosynthetics with varying dimension. Int J Geomech 21(6):04021089.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Fredlund DG, Morgenstern NR, Widger RA (1978) The shear strength of unsaturated soils. Can Geotech J 15(3):313–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Vanapalli SK, Fredlund DG, Pufahl DE, Clifton AW (1996) Model for the prediction of shear strength with respect to soil suction. Can Geotech J 33:379–392.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Vahedifard F, Mortezaei K, Leshchinsky BA, Leshchinsky D, Lu N (2016) Role of suction stress on service state behavior of geosynthetic-reinforced soil structures. Transp Geotech 8:45–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Kankanamge L, Jotisankasa A, Hunsachainan N, Kulathilaka A (2018) Unsaturated shear strength of a Sri Lankan residual soil from a landslide-prone slope and its relationship with soil–water retention curve. Int J Geosynth Ground Eng 4(3):1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Yoo C, Jung HY (2006) Case history of geosynthetic reinforced segmental retaining wall failure. J Geotech Geoenviron 132(12):1538–1548.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Liu CN, Yang KH, Ho YH, Chang CM (2012) Lessons learned from three failures on a high steep geogrid-reinforced slope. Geotext Geomembr 34:131–143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Yoo C (2012) Performance of geosynthetic reinforced soil walls under extreme weather conditions. In: Geosynthetics Asia 2012 proceedings of the 5th asian regional conference on geosynthetics. Springer, pp 95–106

  27. Melinda F, Rahardjo H, Han KK, Leong EC (2004) Shear strength of compacted soil under infiltration condition. J Geotech Geoenviron 130(8):807–817.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Abu-Farsakh M, Coronel J, Tao M (2007) Effect of soil moisture content and dry density on cohesive soil–geosynthetic interactions using large direct shear tests. J Mater Civ Eng 19(7):540–549.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Esmaili D, Hatami K, Miller GA (2014) Influence of matric suction on geotextile reinforcement-marginal soil interface strength. Geotext Geomembr 42(2):139–153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Borana L, Yin JH, Singh DN, Shukla SK (2016) Interface behavior from suction-controlled direct shear test on completely decomposed granitic soil and steel surfaces. Int J Geomech 16(6):D4016008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Ferreira FB, Vieira CS, Lopes M (2015) Direct shear behaviour of residual soil–geosynthetic interfaces–influence of soil moisture content, soil density and geosynthetic type. Geosynth Int 22(3):257–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Zhou WH, Xu X, Garg A (2016) Measurement of unsaturated shear strength parameters of silty sand and its correlation with unconfined compressive strength. Measurement 93:351–358.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Infante DJU, Martinez GMA, Arrua PA, Eberhardt M (2016) Shear strength behavior of different geosynthetic reinforced soil structure from direct shear test. Int J Geosynth Ground Eng 2(2):1–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Jotisankasa A, Mairaing W (2010) Suction-monitored direct shear testing of residual soils from landslide-prone areas. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 136(3):533–537.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Abd IA, Fattah MY, Mekkiyah H (2020) Relationship between the matric suction and the shear strength in unsaturated soil. Case Stud Constr Mater 13:e00441.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Banerjee A, Puppala AJ, Hoyos LR (2020) Suction-controlled multistage triaxial testing on clayey silty soil. Eng Geol 265:105409.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Jotisankasa A, Rurgchaisri N (2018) Shear strength of interfaces between unsaturated soils and composite geotextile with polyester yarn reinforcement. Geotext and Geomembr 46(3):338–353.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Hatami K, Esmaili D (2015) Unsaturated soil–woven geotextile interface strength properties from small-scale pullout and interface tests. Geosynth Int 22(2):161–172

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Lambe TW (1958) The engineering behavior of compacted clay. ASCE J Soil Mech Div 84(2):1655–1661

    Google Scholar 

  40. Dhanya KA, Musaib A, Divya PV (2022) Influence of rainfall on the interface shear strength of unsaturated lateritic soil with geosynthetics. In: Ground improvement and reinforced soil structures. Proceedings of Indian geotechnical conference 2020, vol 2. Springer, pp 697–707

  41. ASTM D 6913 standard test methods for particle-size distribution (gradation) of soils using sieve analysis. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

  42. ASTM D 4318 test method for liquid limit, plastic limit, and plasticity index of soils. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

  43. ASTM D 698 standard test methods for laboratory compaction characteristics of soil using standard effort. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

  44. ASTM D 2434 standard test methods for permeability of granular soils. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

  45. Brooks RH, Corey AT (1964) Hydraulic properties of porous media. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

  46. Van Genuchten MT (1980) A closed-form equation for predicting the hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 44(5):892–898.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Fredlund DG, Xing A (1994) Equations for the soil-water characteristic curve. Can Geotech J 31(4):521–532.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Kosugi KI (1994) Three-parameter lognormal distribution model for soil water retention. Water Resour Res 30(4):891–901.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Krisdani H, Rahardjo H, Leong EC (2008) Measurement of geotextile-water characteristic curve using capillary rise principle. Geosynth Int 15(2):86–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. ASTM D 3080 standard test method for direct shear test of soils under consolidated drained conditions. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

  51. ASTM D 5321 Standard test method for determining the shear strength of soil-geosynthetic and geosynthetic-geosynthetic interfaces by direct shear. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

  52. Oloo SY, Fredlund DG (1996) A method for determination of φb for statically compacted soils. Can Geotech J 33(2):272–280.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Cokca E, Erol O, Armangil F (2004) Effects of compaction moisture content on the shear strength of an unsaturated clay. Geotech Geol Eng 22(2):285–297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Sadrekamiri A, Olson S (2010) Shear band formation observed in ring shear tests on sandy soils. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng 136:366–375

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Alshibli KA, Sture S (1999) Sand shear band thickness measurements by digital imaging techniques. J Comput Civ Eng 13:103–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Alhakim G, Núñez-Temes C, Ortiz-San J, Arza-García M, Jaber L, Gil-Docampo MDLL (2023) Experimental application and accuracy assessment of 2D-DIC in meso-direct-shear test of sandy soil. Measurement 211:112645

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Lee KM, Manjunath VR (2000) Soil-geotextile interface friction by direct shear tests. Can Geotech J 37(1):238–325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. Hamid TB, Miller GA (2009) Shear strength of unsaturated soil interfaces. Can Geotech J 46(5):595–606.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Khoury CN, Miller GA, Hatami K (2011) Unsaturated soil–geotextile interface behavior. Geotext Geomembr 29(1):17–28

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Zornberg JG, Bouazza A, McCartney JS (2010) Geosynthetic capillary barriers: current stateofknowledge. Geosynth Int 17(5):273–300.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Bouazza A, Zornberg J, McCartney JS, Singh RM (2013) Unsaturated geotechnics applied to geoenvironmental engineering problems involving geosynthetics. Eng Geol 165:143–153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Portelinha FHM, Santos MC, Futai MM (2021) A laboratory evaluation of reinforcement loads induced by rainfall infiltration in geosynthetic mechanically stabilized earth walls. Geotext Geomembr 49(5):1427–1439.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Bathurst RJ, Siemens G, Ho AF (2009) Experimental investigation of infiltration ponding in one-dimensional sand–geotextile columns. Geosynth Int 16(3):158–172.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Dhanya KA, Vibha S, Divya PV (2023) Coupled flow-deformation analysis of MSE wall reinforced with hybrid geogrids. Int J Geosynth Ground Eng 9(4):45.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Palmeira EM, Melo DLA, Moraes-Filho IP (2019) Geotextile filtration opening size under tension and confinement. Geotext Geomembr 47:566–576.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Mendes MJA, Palmeira EM, Matheus E (2007) Some factors affecting the in-soil load - strain behaviour of virgin and damaged nonwoven geotextiles. Geosynth Int 14:39–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The funding received from Ministry of Education, Government of India in carrying out this research is highly acknowledged.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection, experimental investigation and analysis were performed by DKA and TSDV. The first draft of the manuscript was written by DKA under the guidance of PVD. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P. V. Divya.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors have no financial or proprietary interests in any material discussed in this article.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Dhanya, K.A., Venkatesh, T.S.D. & Divya, P.V. Influence of Suction on the Interface Characteristics of Unsaturated Marginal Lateritic Soil Backfills with Composite Geosynthetics. Int. J. of Geosynth. and Ground Eng. 9, 73 (2023).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: