, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 121-132
Date: 09 Sep 2007

Comparison of Methods for Determining Specific-surface Area of Fine-grained Soils

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Characteristics of fine-grained soils primarily depend on their specific-surface area and hence, reliable determination of this parameter is essential. In this context, researchers have employed quite sophisticated instruments (viz., a BET surface area analyzer, the mercury intrusion porosimetry, internal reflectance spectroscopy, X-Ray diffraction and gas pycnometer etc.) and methodologies (viz., sorption of Methylene Blue dye, Ethylene Glycol Monoethyl Ether and p-Nitrophenol) to determine specific-surface area of these soils. However, most of these methodologies are found to be quite tedious, cost and time intensive. Apart from this, the results obtained are contentious due to the inherent limitations associated with either the instruments employed or the basic assumptions made for computing the specific-surface area of the soil. Hence, it becomes mandatory to evaluate the efficiency of these methodologies for determining specific-surface area of fine-grained soils. With this in view, different types of soils were considered in this study and their specific-surface area was determined, by following different methodologies, and the results were evaluated critically. In addition, attempts were made to develop relationships between the basic properties of fine-grained soils (viz., liquid limit, cation-exchange capacity, activity, and free swell index) and the specific-surface area. These relationships will be of immense help to the practicing engineers and research fraternity.