Landfill side slope lining system performance: a comparison of field measurements and numerical modelling analyses

Low permeability engineered landfill barriers often consist of a combination of geosynthetics and mineral layers. Even though numerical modelling software is applied during the landfill design process, a lack of data about mechanical performance of landfill barriers is available to validate and calibrate those models. Instrumentation has been installed on a landfill site to monitor multilayer landfill lining system physical performance. The lining system comprises of a compacted clay layer overlaid by high density polyethylene geomembrane, geotextile and sand. Data recorded on the site includes: geosynthetic displacements (extensometers), strains (fibre optics, Demec strain gauges, extensometers) and stresses imposed on the liner (pressure cells). In addition, temperature readings were collected by a logger installed at the surface of the geomembrane, at the clay surface using pressure cell thermistors and air temperature using a thermometer. This paper presents readings collected throughout a period of three years and compares this measured performance with the corresponding numerical modelling of the lining system for stages during construction. Numerical modelling predictions of lining system behaviour during construction are comparable with the measurements when the geosynthetics are covered soon after placement, however, where the geosynthetics are left exposed to the sun for an extended period of time, in situ behaviour of the geosynthetics cannot be replicated by the numerical analysis. This study highlights the significant influence of the effect of temperature on geosynthetics displacements. A simple thermal analysis of the exposed geosynthetics is used to support the explanation for observed behaviour.