Estimation of Subgrade Resilient Modulus Using the Unconfined Compression Test

Report No: 15-R12

Published in 2014

About the report:

To facilitate pavement design, the new proposed mechanistic-empirical pavement design guide recommends the resilient modulus to characterize subgrade soil and its use for calculating pavement responses attributable to traffic and environmental loading. Although resilient modulus values could be determined through laboratory testing of actual subgrade soil samples, such testing would require significant resources including a high level of technical capability to conduct the test and interpret results. For smaller or less critical projects, where costly and complex resilient modulus testing is not justified, correlation with the results of other simpler tests could be used.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) uses a simple correlation with the California bearing ratio (CBR) to estimate the resilient modulus in their current pavement design procedure in accordance with the 1993 AASHTO design guide. As this correlation with CBR is considered to be poor, a simpler unconfined compression (UC) test was explored for better estimation of the resilient modulus of fine-grained soils. Several models were developed in this study to estimate the resilient modulus of fine-grained soil from the results of UC tests. The simplest model considers only the UC strength to predict the resilient modulus with a fair correlation. The more detailed models with stronger correlations also consider the plasticity index, percentage of materials passing the No. 200 sieve, and modulus of the stress-strain curve from the UC test. These models are recommended for implementation by VDOT.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.

Last updated: November 12, 2023

Alert Icon

Please note that this file is not ADA compliant. Choose one of below options: