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Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Hello engineers,

I am working on the geotecnical report for the foundation of tower.

I use sigma W in order to estimate inmediate settlements.

As you may know, you need to enter the Modulus of Elasticity values (E) and poisson, for each soil layer.

I have some Modulus of elasticity values according to the SPT-N values. From 0-4, 5-10, 11-30, 31-50, 51-100, >100. It doesn't matter if it is a cohesive or cohesionless soil.

I am not sure if this is ok. I would like to confirm with any of you with some experience what are the best / most useful Modulus of elasticity values geotechnical engineers use nowadays.


RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

I'm confused by your question.  What are the actual modulus values you are getting?  Why not run cyclic triaxial tests to get an actual modulus value?

I would expect the following:

silt and clay....5 to 7 ksi
sand...10 to 15 ksi
clayey sand...15 to 20 ksi


RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Obviously the same N value will give you different values for E in granular soils and in cohesive materials.

This being said, the best in-situ method to get deformation moduli is the pressuremeter because it is the only test where you have a pseudo-elastic loading phase.

CPT in sands will allow you to get reasonable values as well but not in clays.

Correlations between E ( pressuremeter modulus ) and N is as follows :
N/E for clays : 0.8 to 1.1
    for silts : 3
    for sands : 2 to 6
You will obtain the deformation modulus from the pressuremeter modulus by multiplyng it by 3 for sands, 2 for silts and 1.5 for clays.
Just be careful with correlations : you will only get orders of magnitude. Do the proper testing to get the right input data.  

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Thanks Ron and Bigharvey,

Unfortunatly we don't have the appropiate instrumentation to obtain the modulus of elasticity.

I knew there was something wrong about our E values. I will follow your advise.

What would you guys expect for silty sands (sm) and silty gravel
(Gm) as the site I am working on is mainly composed of these soils.

Or is there any reference you recommend I should get?

Thanks again

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

I know that many have a problem with Bowles, but you can check out his Foundation Engineering book - 5th edition.  There is also Hunt's Geotechnical Site Investigation Handbook - with lots of correlations in it as well.  Correlations are fine for gaining perspective on the problem but nothing beats site specific data .  .  .

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values


I have always used E = 400 to 600 times the Su value for ohesive soils. According to Budhu's "Soil Mechanics and Foundations" book 2nd edition, page 605, cohesionless soils have the following E values (secant values):

Loose sand     = 400,000 psf
med-dense sand = 800,000 psf
dense sand     = 1,600,000 psf

Try to get your hands on a copy of "Manual on Estimating Soil Properties for Foundation Design", 1990 by Mayne and Kulhawy. It maybe online somewhere.


RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Fixed Earth - ranges of Es for cohesive soils I've seen are much greater than you have given . . .  Bowles (3rd Ed) shows for Ip>30 or organic Eu = 100 to 500x Su; for Ip<30 or stiff; Eu = 500 to 1500x Su.  Very stiff clays Eu = 1500 to 2000x Su.

You can find Paul's downloadable papers at:

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Thanks BigH.  

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

The correlations got me thinking - we all look towards the computer programs to give us exactness - yet, one sees, if one must use correlations - that settlement can vary by a factor of 3 or 4 just depending on which E one uses. . .  even when you can have some lab data, how accurate is the E?  even a difference of 20% on the lab value means a difference to the resulting settlement - or wall movement or . . . So, even with FEM, how "accurate" are we?

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Not very.  Must be frustrating for you guys, BigH.  Settlement estimations are more black art than science, I think.

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Ah yes...we measure with a micrometer, mark it with a crayon and cut it with an axe.

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

I agree with all you,

Due to the lack of accuracy using correlations, FEM analysis could lead to different results.

This problem gets even more serious when based on the settlemnt values you have to provide recommendations. For example using my E values due to the high settlement results  I get, I could recommend any type of deep foundations, on the other hand if someone gets lower settlement  values he could recommend anything else or maybe nothing as the settlments might be less than the allowables.

At the end, all this means money to the client.


RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Don't you guys find that literature Nspt- Es correlations are usually over conservative (with the possible exception of the D'appollonia correlation for sands and gravels)?

Pelelo's soils would be suited to the AASHTO, 1996 correlation: E=0.4÷0.7n [MPa], but I find it way too conservative.

Lately I've been doing quite a few investigations on existing buildings, damaged by an earthquake, but in good conditions prior to the quake.

The above correlations woudl indicate likely settlements problems, whereas these were not observed.

I tried to compare results from geophysical surveys (Vs profiles), going from the dynamic E degraded to the secant E and sometimes it 'feels' better, even though apaprently under-conservative.

Right now I'm using Nspt-Gmax correlations, which afterwards I degrade to Gsecant and transform into Esecant knowing the poisson module .

It sounds convoluted, I know, but this way I get results which would appear to be more realistic.

That is, the soil under houses which had no settlement problems comes out pretty good and not pretty 'crappy'.

Your opinion about that?

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Pelelo, one possible way out of your predicament might be a good software on Nspt analysis.

Some of'em have filters which allow you to apply soil-specific correlations, plus you have output histograms where you have the whole 'scenery', have a feel for the possible range and might eventually decide to take the median value of the parameter.

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

You might want to look at ASTM D3839.

Richard A. Cornelius, P.E.

RE: Modulus of Elasticity E Values

Virginia Tech has a Center for Geotechnical Practice and Research (CGPR).  CGPR #44, May 2007, is a publication by Duncan and Bursey on Soil and Rock Modulus Correlations.  This is a nice resource.  I would caution you not to throw away common tools in lieu of FEM.  Instead use FEM in conjunction with other tools to help understand behavior and only use FEM to estimate displacement if you are quite comfortable with your soil properties or you assure yourself you are being conservative.  I have a couple of projects now where I have created models that experienced significant full scale loading of the prototypes.  From a predictive standpoint I got pretty close on maximum displacement on one project and overestimated displacement by about a factor of 2 on another.

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