Experimental work is undertaken at the University of British Columbia (UBC) to study the soil-pipe interface shear strength at levels of shear displacements and effective normal stresses typically encountered in offshore soil-pipe interaction problems. A macro-scale interface direct shear apparatus having a test specimen footprint of 1.72 m × 1.75 m was designed and built for this purpose. The apparatus is capable of testing various soil-pipe interfaces under effective normal stresses in the range of 3 kPa to 6 kPa. A maximum shear displacement of 1.2 m is achievable at rates ranging from 0.1 μm/s to 1 mm/s. Sensors mounted at the interface enable the accurate determination of the effective normal stress at the interface when fully saturated fine-grained soils are tested. This paper presents some observations arising from a series of interface direct shear tests involving fine-grained soils of different plasticity against bare and epoxy coated steel surfaces.

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