Saprolitic soils containing relict joint-planes are common throughout Hong Kong in areas of in situ weathering of granites and volcanic rocks. A series of shear box tests on both the joints and the matrix soil of sarolitic soils is reported. The results reaffirm that the shear strength of the relict joints is much lower than that of the matrix soil, though the difference may diminish as decomposition advances. Relict joint-planes cannot therefore be ignored in assessing the mass strength for slope design in saprolitic soils, especially in the relatively less decomposed zones.

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