Modeling Stress-Dependent Anisotropic Elastoplastic Unbound Granular Base in Flexible Pavements

Yuqing Zhang, Fan Gu, Xue Luo, Bjorn Birgisson, Robert L. Lytton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unbound granular base (UGB) has a cross-anisotropic and nonlinear (stress-dependent) modulus with a plastic behavior. Existing UGB models address nonlinear cross-anisotropy and plasticity separately. It is unknown how the two characteristics are coupled into a finite element model (FEM) and how this will affect the pavement responses. This study presents a coupled nonlinear cross-anisotropic elastoplastic (NAEP) constitutive model for the UGB and implements it in a weak form equation-based FEM. No material subroutine is needed to address the circular dependence between the stress-dependent anisotropic modulus, structural stress responses, and elastoplastic deformation. The NAEP model was calibrated by triaxial resilient modulus and strength tests and validated using laboratory measurements in a large-scale soil-tank pavement structural test. It is found that the NAEP model is valid and effective in predicting the UGB responses in flexible pavements. The model predicted less horizontal tensile stresses at the base bottom and introduced compressive stresses in the middle and top of the base course. This is caused by an increasing confinement resulting from a horizontal plastic dilation in the base course, which cannot be modeled without considering plasticity. The stress-dependent modulus for the UGB material decreases with depth and the distance from loading centerline. Compared with a nonlinear anisotropic elastic model, the NAEP model predicted the same tensile strain at asphalt layer bottom, a higher base modulus, and a higher subgrade compressive strain. Thus, the nonlinear anisotropic elastic UGB model results in the same fatigue life as the NAEP model but may riskily under-predict rutting damage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-56
Number of pages11
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number52
Early online date14 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

© National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2018


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