Influence of Chemo-Mechanical Factors on Compression and Undrained Strengths of Soft Kaolinites Prepared using Synthetic Seawater
Marine clay deposits are characterized by very soft to soft consistencies (undrained strength 1-50 kPa), presence of saline pore solution and low-swelling clays. Besides, loss of metastable structure on disturbance, poor undrained strengths of soft clays is contributed by high water contents. Presence of saline pore solution and low-swelling clays (illite, chlorite, kaolinite) play an important role in developing metastable structure of soil sediments deposited in marine environment. The pore solution salinity regulates the “physico-chemical (A - R) stress” that in turn has significant bearing on development of the metastable structure. Metastable structure refers to edge-face, edge-edge associations in card-house arrangement of platy/elongate particles that develop during deposition. Loss of metastable structure of soft marine clays upon disturbance leads to excessive settlements and slope failures. Besides A - R forces, metastable structure of marine clays is contributed by cementation bonds, thixotropic hardening, ion leaching, formation or addition of dispersing agents and chemical weathering. Secondary compression also causes bonding of micro-structural units that increase stiffness and strength of the metastable structure. Review of literature brings out that majority of studies examining the role of physico-chemical factors on the engineering behavior of marine clays have focused on illite rich sediments. However, non-swelling clay, namely, kaolinite is also encountered in marine deposits (example, Pusan clay, Singapore clay, Sarapui soft clays). Kaolinites differ from illites in being 1:1 mineral (unit layer comprises of 1 silica sheet bonded to 1 gibbsite sheet) and having strong hydrogen bonding between unit layers. Consequently, kaolinite particles are thick (0.3 to 3 ìm thickness) with low surface area (10 to 20 m2/g). Also the hydrogen bonding between unit layers do not allow them to separate on hydration. Combination of very low isomorphous substitution (Al for Si 1 in 400), low cation exchange capacity (3 meq/100g), and low surface area, lead to negligible development of diffuse double layer repulsion forces between kaolinite particles. Strong positive edge (developed on broken bonds at particle edges from adsorption of hydrogen ions) negative face attraction between kaolinite particles, encourages flocculation of particles at range of water contents. It was therefore considered of interest to examine the engineering response of kaolinites to changes in pore solution salinity from leaching effects. The focus of the thesis is hence to gain better understanding of physico-chemical (pore solution salinity, A - R forces) and mechanical (secondary compression, loss of overburden) factors towards development of metastable structure of kaolinite clays deposited in synthetic seawater environments in the context of their compressibility and undrained strength characteristics. Laboratory experiments are performed with kaolinites that are slurry consolidated in conventional consolidometers in saline and synthetic seawater solutions. The metastable structure developed by consolidated specimens is relevant to alluvial marine sediments that contain kaolinite (example, Pusan clay, Singapore clay, Sarapui soft clays). The structure of the thesis is as follows: Chapter 1 gives an introduction to the thesis. Chapter 2 provides a detailed review of literature on the role of chemical factors (pore solution composition, A - R forces, osmotic suction) and mechanical processes (secondary compression and overconsolidation) in developing metastable structure of kaolinite specimens subjected to slurry consolidation and the consequent influence of metastable structure on compression, undrained strength and sensitivity characteristics of clay specimens. The Chapter also defines the scope and objectives of the study. Chapter 3 details the experimental program undertaken to bring out the role of chemical factors and mechanical processes in influencing the 1-dimensional compression and undrained strength characteristics of slurry consolidated kaolinites prepared in saline medium. Chapter 4 delineates the role of chloride salt solutions (sodium, magnesium and calcium) and synthetic seawater solution in contributing to the metastable structure developed by slurry consolidated kaolinites at various vertical effective stress (óv’) and the consequent influence of metastable structure on 1-dimensional compression, undrained strength and sensitivity characteristics of the clay. Chapter 5 examines influence of secondary compression on metastable structure developed by kaolinites that were slurry consolidated in 24.53 g/L sodium chloride and synthetic seawater solutions and the consequence of the developed metastable structure on undrained strength and sensitivity. The chapter also examines the consequences of secondary compression experienced by soft overconsolidated kaolinites on their undrained strength and sensitivity characteristics. Chapter 6 examines the relative influence of differential osmotic stress and electrochemical stress on the consolidation behaviour of kaolinite specimens that are slurry consolidated in sodium chloride solutions. The osmotic efficiencies (á) of kaolinite were obtained using the Fritz-Marine Membrane Model. Chapter 7 summarizes the major conclusions of the thesis.
- Civil Engineering (CiE) 
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