Hydraulic performance and stability of geosynthetic landfill cover systems with constrained drainage at the outlet
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Sliding failures of landfill cover systems are common, and the slip surface is often at the interface between a geosynthetic drainage layer and an underlying textured geomembrane. In an effort to understand the sliding failures, the objectives of this research project are to summarize current regulation and practice in landfill cover design, use experimental methods to characterize the behavior of geosynthetic landfill materials in cover systems approaching failure, and develop models to evaluate the hydraulic performance and stability of landfill cover systems. Inclined plane tests were conducted to explore the behavior of a geosynthetic drainage material/textured geomembrane interface. The interface had effective normal stress dependent strain softening behavior, with more strain softening measured at higher effective normal stresses. A numerical model for confined flow in a drainage layer with a constrained outlet was developed. The model was used to evaluate how water fills and empties from a geosynthetic drainage layer for a variety of inflow conditions and constraints to flow at the outlet. The model was used to demonstrate that a drainage layer that effectively conveys water out of a cover system with a free flowing drainage outlet quickly fills with water when the outlet has a modest constraint to flow. An iterative, numerical model was developed to calculate stability solutions for landfill cover slopes that satisfy force equilibrium and strain compatibility while accounting for effective normal stress dependent strain softening and various pore water pressure conditions. Stability solutions reveal that depending on the water pressure in the drainage layer, the geosynthetic drainage material may experience tension at many points along the slope. It is crucial for the stability of the landfill cover system to maintain free-flowing conditions at the drainage layer outlet. A modest constraint to flow at the outlet has a significant adverse effect on the ability of the landfill cover drainage layer to convey water out of the system, which can lead to instability. The drainage layer outlet should be designed to ensure free flow of water out of the drainage layer.