# One-Dimensional Consolidation

Note

The project file for this example is available to be viewed/run in FLAC3D.[1] The project’s main data files are shown at the end of this example.

A saturated layer of soil of thickness \(H\) = 20 m (shown in Figure 1) and large horizontal extent rests on a rigid impervious base. A constant
surface load, \(p_z\) = 10^{5} Pa, is applied on the layer under undrained conditions.
The soil matrix is homogeneous and behaves elastically; the isotropic Darcy’s transport law applies.
The applied pressure is initially carried by the fluid, but as time goes on the fluid drains through the
layer surface, transferring the load to the soil matrix. The solution to this one-dimensional
consolidation problem may be expressed in the framework of Biot theory (see Detournay and Cheng 1993).

The diffusion equation for the pore pressure, \(p\), has the form

where: | \(c\) | = | \(k/S\); |

\(S\) | = | \(1/M + \alpha^2/\alpha_1\) = the storage coefficient; | |

\(\alpha_1\) | = | \(K + 4G/3\); | |

\(M\) | = | the Biot modulus; and | |

\(\alpha\) | = | the Biot coefficient. |

The boundary conditions are \(\sigma_{zz}\) = \(-p_z H(t)\) and \(p\) = 0 at \(z\) = H (\(H(t)\) is the step function), and \(u_z\) = 0 and \({{\partial p}\over{\partial z}}\) = 0 at \(z\) = 0.

Because the stress is constant, Equation (1) reduces to

with boundary conditions \(p\) = 0 at \(z = H\), and \({{\partial p}\over{\partial z}}\) = 0 at \(z\) = 0.

The initial value, \(p_0\), for the pore pressure induced from loading of the layer may be derived from the fluid constitutive law (\(p = M(\zeta - \alpha {\epsilon}_{zz})\)) by considering undrained conditions (\(\zeta\) = 0) and using the one-dimensional mechanical constitutive law (\({\sigma}_{zz} = \alpha_1 {\epsilon}_{zz} - \alpha p\)) to express strain in terms of stresses. It is given by

The solution for the pore pressure is

where: | \(\hat{p}\) | = | \(p/p_z\); |

\(a_m\) | = | \((2 m +1)\pi/2\); | |

\(\hat{z}\) | = | \((H-z)/H\); and | |

\(\hat{t}\) | = | \(ct/H^2\). |

The vertical displacement, \(u_z\), is found by considering the equilibrium equation \(\partial {\sigma}_{zz} / \partial z\) = 0 together with the mechanical constitutive equation \({\sigma}_{zz} = \alpha_1 {\epsilon}_{zz} - \alpha p\). By expressing \({\epsilon}_{zz}\) as \(\partial u_z / \partial z\), we obtain upon integration, taking Equation (4) and the boundary conditions into account,

here \({\hat{u}}_z\) is defined as \({\hat{u}}_z = {{\alpha_1 u_z}\over{H p_z}}\).

The following properties are prescribed for this example:

dry bulk modulus, \(K\) | 5 × 10^{8} Pa |

dry shear modulus, \(G\) | 2 × 10^{8} Pa |

Biot modulus, \(M\) | 4 × 10^{9} Pa |

Biot coefficient, \(\alpha\) | 1.0 |

permeability, \(k\) | 10^{-10} m^{2}/Pa-sec |

The FLAC3D model grid for this problem is a column of 20 zones of unit dimensions lined up along the \(z\)-axis. (See Figure 2.) The base of the column is fixed, and lateral displacements are restricted in the \(x\)- and \(y\)-directions. A mechanical pressure, \(p_z\), is applied at the top of the column.

At first, flow is prevented and the model is stepped to equilibrium to establish the initial undrained conditions. At the end of this stage, the stress \({\sigma}_{zz}\) has the value \(-p_z\), in equilibrium with the applied pressure, and the pore pressure has the initial undrained value \(p_0 = \alpha p_z/\alpha_1 S\) (see Figure 3). Drainage is then allowed by setting the pore pressure to zero at the top of the column. The FLAC3D model is cycled to a flow time of 5000 seconds, which is approximately the magnitude of the characteristic time, \(t_c = H^2/c\), for this problem.

The analytical solution for the pore pressure, \(\hat{p}\), and vertical displacement, \({\hat{u}}_z\), at the column mid-height are evaluated using FISH functions, and compared to the numerical solution as time proceeds. The results are plotted versus fluid-flow time in Figure 3 and Figure 4. The transfer of pore pressure to effective stress is illustrated in Figure 5, where the evolutions of normalized total stress, \(-{\sigma}_{zz} / p_z\), effective stress, \(-({\sigma}_{zz} + p) / p_z\), and pore pressure, \(p / p_z\), with fluid-flow time are presented. The FLAC3D data file is listed in “1DConsolidation-Coupled.dat”.

Note that as the stiffness ratio \(R_k = \alpha^2 M/(K + 4G/3)\) increases, the number of zones should
increase to keep the error small. This effect is caused by the numerical technique used to evaluate
pore-pressure changes caused by volumetric strain in `model configure fluid`

. Also, as the ratio
\(R_k\) increases, the timestep will decrease. However, to keep the error small and the timestep
sufficiently large without significantly affecting the solution, it is acceptable to limit the value of
Biot modulus (or \(K_f\)) used in the simulation to a value of approximately twenty times
\((K + 4G/3)/{\alpha^2}\) (see the fifth item in *Solving Flow-Only and Coupled-Flow Problems*). To demonstrate the validity of this
numerical approach, the analytical solutions for pore pressure and displacement corresponding to \(M\)
= 1.5 × 10^{10} (\(R_k \simeq\) 20) and \(M\) = 1.5 × 10^{15} (\(R_k \simeq\) 20 ×
10^{5}) are compared in Figure 6 and
Figure 7. As seen in those plots, the responses are indeed similar
(maximum relative error less than 5%).

For values of the stiffness ratio, \(R_k\),
much larger than 20, the convergence of the basic algorithm for coupled fluid flow will be very slow
(i.e., numerous mechanical steps will be necessary to bring the system to mechanical equilibrium after each flow step).
This is illustrated by repeating teh couple test with Biot modulus \(M\) = 4 × 10^{10} Pa
(10 times larger than in the former numerical calculation, see 1DConsolidation-Coupled10M.dat).
In the former calculation with \(M\) = 4 × 10^{9} Pa (\(R_k\) = 5.2),
the coupled flow calculation ran in approximately 4 seconds (on a 1.6 GHz i7 computer).
For the calculation with \(M\) = 4 × 10^{10} Pa (\(R_k\) = 52),
the calculation time is approximately 40 seconds (ten times slower).
The comparison of the pore pressure and displacement history results to the analytical solutions for \(M\) = 4 × 10^{10} Pa are shown
in Figure 8 and Figure 9, respectively.
The maximum relative error is less than 4%.

The solution time can be reduced by using the uncoupling technique described in Stiffness Ratio
(the applicability of the uncoupling technique to this problem follows from the irrotational character of the solution).
In this test (1DConsolidation-Uncoupled.dat),
the numerical simulation is repeated for a Biot modulus of 4 × 10^{10} Pa using the uncoupling technique.
In this test, the initial undrained conditions are obtained using the *undrained* bulk value for the material and setting Biot modulus to zero.
The pore pressure, which is not updated in this calculation mode, is then initialized at the value \(p_0\).
The rest of the simulation is carried out in a series of ten time increments to enable a recording of the variables history.
In each increment, the fluid flow calculation is performed for a time interval of 500 seconds.
During that stage, a scaled value for Biot modulus is used in order to preserve the coupled system true diffusivity
(see this equation).
Next, Biot modulus is set to zero to prevent additional generation of pore pressure,
and the system is run to mechanical equilibrium using the *drained* value of the bulk modulus.
Fluid and mechanical calculations are repeated until the total simulation time reaches 5000 sec.
The results of this simulation (which does not involve any *direct* calculation of pore-pressure change due to volumetric straining) are presented
in Figure 10 to Figure 12.
The calculation time for this uncoupled simulation is approximately 4 seconds.
The maximum relative error is less than 1%.

This particular example involves fully saturated coupled flow.
In such cases, solution times can be reduced by using the *saturated fast-flow* algorithm described in Fully Saturated Fast Flow.
The algorithm is selected by using the `zone fluid fastflow`

on command.
If 1DConsolidation-Coupled.dat with \(M\) = 4 × 10^{10} Pa (\(R_k\) = 52) is repeated with this command,
the runtime is now approximately 12 seconds (see 1DConsolidation-FastFlow.dat).
As \(R_k\) increases,
the use of the fast-flow algorithm becomes more beneficial.

The results of the fast-flow calculation are shown in Figure 13 and Figure 14. The maximum relative error is less than 2%.

Reference

Detournay, E., and A. H. D. Cheng. “Fundamentals of Poroelasticity,” in *Comprehensive Rock Engineering*, Vol. 2, pp. 113-171. J. Hudson et al., eds. London: Pergamon Press (1993).

Data File

**1DConsolidation-Coupled.dat**

```
model new
model large-strain off
model title "One-dimensional consolidation (coupled)"
fish automatic-create off
model configure fluid
program call 'fishFunctions'
[setup(4.0e9)]
; --- model geometry ---
zone create brick size 1 1 [int(hh)]
zone face skin
; --- mechanical model ---
zone cmodel assign elastic
zone fluid biot on
zone property bulk [c_bulk] sh [c_shear]
zone face apply velocity-x 0.0 range group 'West' or 'East'
zone face apply velocity-y 0.0 range group 'North' or 'South'
zone face apply velocity-z 0.0 range group 'Bottom'
zone initialize stress-zz 0.
zone face apply stress-zz [sig0] range group 'Top'
; --- fluid flow model ---
zone fluid cmodel assign isotropic
zone fluid property permeability [c_perm] biot [c_biotc]
zone gridpoint initialize biot [c_biotm]
zone gridpoint initialize pore-pressure 0
; --- first establish undrained response ---
model fluid active off
model solve ratio 1e-4
; --- histories ---
history interval 200
fish history pp10
fish history c_szz
fish history c_eszz
fish history c_uz
fish history ft
; --- drained response ---
zone face apply pore-pressure 0 range group 'Top'
model fluid active on
model fluid substep 1
model mechanical substep 1
model mechanical slave on
model solve fluid time-total 500 or mechanical ratio 1e-4
model fluid substep 100
model mechanical substep 10
model mechanical slave on
model solve fluid time-total 5000 or mechanical ratio 1e-4
history export '1' vs '5' table '1'
history export '4' vs '5' table '2'
history export '2' vs '5' table '3'
history export '3' vs '5' table '4'
table '1' label 'Pore Pressure'
table '2' label 'Vertical Displacement'
table '3' label 'Total Stress'
table '4' label 'Effective Stress'
model save '1dcons_coup'
```

**1DConsolidation-Coupled10M.dat**

```
model new
model large-strain off
model title "One-dimensional consolidation (coupled)"
fish automatic-create off
model configure fluid
program call 'fishFunctions'
[setup(4.0e10)]
; --- model geometry ---
zone create brick size 1 1 [int(hh)]
zone face skin
; --- mechanical model ---
zone cmodel assign elastic
zone fluid biot on
zone property bulk [c_bulk] sh [c_shear]
zone face apply velocity-x 0.0 range group 'West' or 'East'
zone face apply velocity-y 0.0 range group 'North' or 'South'
zone face apply velocity-z 0.0 range group 'Bottom'
zone initialize stress-zz 0.
zone face apply stress-zz [sig0] range group 'Top'
; --- fluid flow model ---
zone fluid cmodel assign isotropic
zone fluid property permeability [c_perm] biot [c_biotc]
zone gridpoint initialize biot [c_biotm]
zone gridpoint initialize pore-pressure 0
; --- first establish undrained response ---
model fluid active off
model solve ratio 2e-5
; --- histories ---
history interval 1000
fish history pp10
fish history c_szz
fish history c_eszz
fish history c_uz
fish history ft
; --- drained response ---
zone face apply pore-pressure 0 range group 'Top'
model fluid active on
model fluid substep 1
model mechanical substep 1
model mechanical slave on
model solve fluid time-total 500 or mechanical ratio 2e-5
model fluid substep 100
model mechanical substep 10
model mechanical slave on
model solve fluid time-total 5000 or mechanical ratio 2e-5
history export '1' vs '5' table '1'
history export '4' vs '5' table '2'
history export '2' vs '5' table '3'
history export '3' vs '5' table '4'
table '1' label 'Pore Pressure'
table '2' label 'Vertical Displacement'
table '3' label 'Total Stress'
table '4' label 'Effective Stress'
model save '1dcons_coup10M'
```

**1DConsolidation-Uncoupled.dat**

```
model new
model large-strain off
model title "One-dimensional consolidation (uncoupled)"
fish automatic-create off
model configure fluid
program call 'fishFunctions'
[setup(4.0e10)]
; --- model geometry ---
zone create brick size 1 1 [int(hh)]
zone face skin
; --- mechanical model ---
zone cmodel assign elastic
zone property bulk [c_bulk] shear [c_shear]
zone face apply velocity-x 0.0 range group 'West' or 'East'
zone face apply velocity-y 0.0 range group 'North' or 'South'
zone face apply velocity-z 0.0 range group 'Bottom'
zone initialize stress-zz 0.
zone face apply stress-zz [sig0] range group 'Top'
; --- fluid flow model ---
zone fluid cmodel assign isotropic
zone fluid property permeability [c_perm] biot [c_biotc]
zone fluid biot on
zone gridpoint initialize biot [c_biotm]
zone gridpoint initialize pore-pressure 0
; --- first establish undrained response ---
model fluid active off mech on
zone property bulk [c_bulku]
zone gridpoint initialize biot 0.0
model solve
zone gridpoint initialize pore-pressure [p0]
; --- drained response ---
zone face apply pore-pressure 0 range group 'Top'
fish define my_solve
loop local ii (1,10)
global c_age = 500.0*ii
command
zone property bulk [c_bulk]
zone gridpoint initialize biot [c_biotma]
model fluid active on mech off
model solve fluid time-total [c_age]
model fluid active off mech on
zone gridpoint initialize biot 0.0
model solve ratio 2e-5
end_command
table.y('1',ii) = pp10
table.x('1',ii) = ft
table.y('2',ii) = c_uz
table.x('2',ii) = ft
table.y('3',ii) = c_szz
table.x('3',ii) = ft
table.y('4',ii) = c_eszz
table.x('4',ii) = ft
end_loop
table.label('1') = 'Pore Pressure'
table.label('2') = 'Vertical Displacement'
table.label('3') = 'Total Stress'
table.label('4') = 'Effective Stress'
end
[my_solve]
model save '1dcons_uncoup'
```

**1DConsolidation-FastFlow.dat**

```
model new
model large-strain off
model title "One-dimensional consolidation (coupled - fast flow)"
fish automatic-create off
model configure fluid
program call 'fishFunctions'
[setup(4.0e10)]
; --- model geometry ---
zone create brick size 1 1 [int(hh)]
zone face skin
; --- mechanical model ---
zone cmodel assign elastic
; set fluid biot on
zone property bulk [c_bulk] sh [c_shear]
zone face apply velocity-x 0.0 range group 'West' or 'East'
zone face apply velocity-y 0.0 range group 'North' or 'South'
zone face apply velocity-z 0.0 range group 'Bottom'
zone initialize stress-zz 0.
zone face apply stress-zz [sig0] range group 'Top'
; --- fluid flow model ---
zone fluid cmodel assign isotropic
zone fluid property permeability [c_perm]
zone gridpoint initialize pore-pressure 0
; --- fast flow setting ---
zone fluid fastflow on
; --- first establish undrained response ---
model fluid active off
model solve ratio 1e-4
; --- histories ---
fish history pp10
fish history c_szz
fish history c_eszz
fish history c_uz
fish history ft
; --- drained response ---
zone gridpoint fix pore-pressure 0 range position-z 20
model fluid active on
model mechanical substep 100
model mechanical slave on
model fluid substep 10
model step 0
model fluid timestep fix 1
model solve fluid time-total 200 or mechanical ratio 1e-6
model fluid timestep auto
model solve fluid time-total 5000 or mechanical ratio 1e-6
history export '1' vs '5' table '1'
history export '4' vs '5' table '2'
history export '2' vs '5' table '3'
history export '3' vs '5' table '4'
table '1' label 'Pore Pressure'
table '2' label 'Vertical Displacement'
table '3' label 'Total Stress'
table '4' label 'Effective Stress'
model save '1dcons_ff'
```

Endnotes

[1] | To view this project in FLAC3D, use the program menu.
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