The Open Civil Engineering Journal

ISSN: 1874-1495 ― Volume 13, 2019

A Review on the Characteristics of the Smear Zone: Field Data Back Calculation Compared with Laboratory Testing

Rudi Iskandar, A Perwira Mulia Tarigan*, Roesyanto
Department of Civil Engineering, Post Graduate Study Program, Faculty of Engineering, University of Sumatera Utara, Kampus USU, Medan 20155, Indonesia



The so-called smear zone is a disturbed zone developed in soil during prefabricated vertical drainage (PVD) installation using a mandrel. There are 2 main parameters typically used to characterize the smear zone. First, the extent ratio signifies the extent of the soil damage due to mandrel penetration; and second, the permeability ratio κ represents the degree of disturbance to the soil permeability within the smear zone.


This study reviews 2 methods employed by various researchers to obtain the values for the 2 aforementioned parameters, i.e. 1) field data back calculation and 2) laboratory testing. It is found that the s’ values vary between 2.0 – 5.0 and between 2.0 – 6.3 based on field data back calculation and laboratory testing, consecutively. On the other hand, the κ values vary between 2.0 - 13.8 and 1.03 – 3.13 based on field data back calculation and laboratory testing, consecutively.

Results and Conclusion:

With regard to the previous studies, three causes of the variation are suggested in this study: 1) the laboratory testing’s inability to model the complexity of field conditions, 2) the absence of standardized laboratory methods that can be used as references and 3) the level of disturbance in the field which is considerably greater than that in the laboratory and differs at each research location. In addition to the review, historical data of a trial embankment at the embankment of the multi-purpose container yard in Kuala Tanjung, North Sumatra, Indonesia, are exhibited to illustrate the estimation of the s’ and κ values.

Keywords: Smear zone, The extent ratio, The permeability ratio, Laboratory testing, Back calculation, Numerical method, PVD installation, Soft clay, Consolidation.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2018
Volume: 12
First Page: 340
Last Page: 354
Publisher Id: TOCIEJ-12-340
DOI: 10.2174/1874149501812010340

Article History:

Received Date: 3/9/2018
Revision Received Date: 2/10/2018
Acceptance Date: 18/10/2018
Electronic publication date: 30/10/2018
Collection year: 2018

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© 2018 Iskandar et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Civil Engineering, Post Graduate Study Program, Faculty of Engineering, University of Sumatera Utara, Kampus, Medan 20155, Indonesia; Tel: +628116069333; E-mails:,


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