Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 60, Issue 6, pp 1189–1199

Mineralogical changes and geotechnical properties of an expansive soil interacted with caustic solution


    • Indian Institute of Science
  • Gullapalli Sankara
    • Indian Institute of Science
  • Mehter M. Allam
    • Indian Institute of Science
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12665-009-0260-9

Cite this article as:
Sivapullaiah, P.V., Sankara, G. & Allam, M.M. Environ Earth Sci (2010) 60: 1189. doi:10.1007/s12665-009-0260-9


The type and amount of clay mineral plays an important role in the behaviour of fine-grained soils. Clay minerals are the primary source and moisture is often the external agent of swelling in soils. Also soils may exhibit increased/reduced swelling due to interaction with chemicals. Alkalis used in industrial operations are one such example. Concentrations of alkali and mineral type are the key factors in such interactions. The present paper reports the changes in the properties of an expansive Black Cotton soil containing a mixed layer mineral, rectorite upon interaction with high concentration caustic solutions. X-ray diffraction studies have shown that the rectorite present in the soil undergoes changes with increase in the concentration of alkali. Saponite gets transformed to nantronite. Small amount of kaolinitic mineral present in the soil also reacts with alkali producing some changes in its mineralogy. Many hydroxides are produced. Differential thermal analysis studies have been supportive of these changes. Consequent of these changes, the soil-specific surface increases, changes its Atterberg limits and free swell volume increases. The results have been supported by the characteristics and behaviour of samples contaminated in the field with alkali from an alumina extraction plant.


AlkaliAtterberg limitsDTAIndex propertiesRectoriteX-ray diffraction

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© Springer-Verlag 2009