Performance of nonwoven geotextiles as separators for pavement applications
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Geosynthetics can be used in several applications in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering, being geotextiles the most traditional and versatile type of geosynthetic. One of the applications of geotextiles is in separation between good and poor quality soils. This situation may occur in geotechnical structures such as roads and railways constructed on soft saturated subgrades. The presence of a geotextile separator avoids or minimize the contamination of the good quality base or ballast material with fines from the subgrade, increasing the life of the road and reducing maintenance costs. Despite its importance, very few studies on the behaviour of geotextiles in separation can be found in the literature compared to other applications of these materials. This paper investigates the performance of nonwoven geotextiles in separation. Laboratory tests on geotextiles with masses per unit area ranging from 200 g/m 2 to 600 g/m 2 were executed using an apparatus capable of applying repetitive loading to simulate traffic conditions. Measurements of surface displacements and pore pressures in the subgrade soil and the evaluation of geotextile mechanical damages at the end of the tests were carried out. The results obtained showed that the three geotextiles tested were effective separators, avoiding contamination of the base soil and accelerating the dissipation of excess pore pressures in the subgrade soil. However, significant mechanical damage was observed in the lighter geotextile used.