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This paper shows that application of the SWCC in geotechnical engineering is somewhat different from applications in agriculture, primarily because soil volume change in response to wetting and loading for many geotechnical engineering applications can be substantial. Test procedures that had been used in agriculture for several decades began to be used in geotechnical engineering subsequent to 1960 (Fredlund, 1964). The need to measure the SWCC became apparent when it was realized that changes in the suction of a soil produced an independent effect on soil behavior from changes in total stress.
Likewise, when the starting water content was such that 20% volume change took place during the gravimetric water content SWCC test, the break in the degree of saturation curve was 16 times larger than the break in curvature from the gravimetric water content SWCC. Forty percent volume change was also quite feasible and in this case, the break in the degree of saturation Figure 8. 1). began to desaturate. The degree of saturation plot also indicates that residual condition can be identified at a suction of about 15,000 kPa and a residual degree of saturation of about 20%.
1). Figure 9. 1). The volume change is assumed to occur as a result of increases in soil suction as the material dries. The degree of saturation SWCC was assumed to remain the same for all soils tested. The initial condition of each soil tested was saturated. The best-fit parameters for the gravimetric water content SWCC were determined for the material tested at 78% initial water content and maintained constant for all other initial saturated water content conditions. The initial saturated water content of the specimen controlled the amount of volume change that would occur as the soil specimen was subjected to increased suction.