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Abstract

Direct simple shear experiments on mud samples from 0 to 15 mbsf (metres below seafloor) in the Ursa Basin (northern Gulf of Mexico) document that stress level impacts shear strength and pore pressure during failure. As burial depth increased (from 7.35 to 13.28 mbsf), cohesion decreased (from 12.3 to 6.5 kPa) and the internal friction angle increased (from 18° to 21°). For a specimen from 11.75 mbsf, an increase in maximum consolidation stress (from 45 to 179 kPa) resulted in an increase in the shear-induced pore pressure (from 29 to 150 kPa); however, the normalized peak shear stress decreased (from 0.37 to 0.25). Our results document that consolidation at shallow depths induces a positive feedback on pore-pressure genesis. For resedimented samples, which lack a stress history, cohesion was 3.6 kPa and the internal friction angle was 24°. As the maximum consolidation stress increased (from 40 to 254 kPa) on resedimented samples, the shear-induced pore pressure increased (from 22 to 203 kPa), whereas the normalized peak shear stress decreased (from 0.32 to 0.25). Our experiments showed that resedimented samples have similar strength and failure behaviour to intact samples. By constraining pore pressure, strength and initial stress state, we gain a better insight into slope-failure dynamics. Therefore, our experiments provide constraints on strength and shear-induced pore pressure at the onset of shallow failure that could be included in slope-failure and hazard models.

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