The effects of the depositional environment and post-depositional processes on the engineering properties of Quaternary clays in the Saga Plain

  • Rui Jia
  • Gang Zheng
  • Huayang LeiEmail author
  • Takenori Hino
Original Paper


Core samples to a depth of approximately 50 m and undisturbed soil samples were retrieved from eight locations in the Saga Plain, Japan, to investigate the effects of the depositional environment and post-depositional processes on the engineering properties of Quaternary clays in the Saga Plain. The engineering properties of these soil samples were measured, and the test results showed that the clays in the Saga Plain have a high void ratio, high water content, high compressibility, high sensitivity, and low stiffness. The one-dimensional compression curves plotted above the sedimentation compression line proposed by Burland, and the compression index was high, which indicated that the clays had been cemented to some degree. The clays have high strength sensitivity and high stress sensitivity, indicating that they have strong structures. It was considered that a considerable amount of volcanic ash from the four large volcanic eruptions that occurred during the deposition of these clays settled into the clays, resulting in a certain degree of cementation, which was attributed as the main driver of the strong structure in these clays. Comparisons of the NaCl concentration, pH, and oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) of the clay samples representing the initial depositional environment and the current ground environment showed that salt leaching occurred in the Ariake clay formation, and that the ground environment changed. When the NaCl concentration was less than approximately 2 g/L, the strength sensitivity of the Ariake clay samples with low-activity clay minerals significantly increased due to the decrease in the liquid limit and subsequent significant decrease in the remolded undrained shear strength. Therefore, salt leaching was probably a main cause of the high strength sensitivity of the clays in the Saga Plain. The depositional environment at some locations changed from an alkaline, reducing environment, to an acidic, oxidative environment, with the potential to change into a strongly acidic environment, which could have deteriorated the strength of the cement/lime-treated clays in the Saga Plain.


Quaternary clays Engineering properties Depositional environment Salt leaching Ground environment change 



The site investigation data reported in this paper are from the Ariake Sea Coastal Road Development Office, Saga Prefecture, Japan, whose generosity is greatly appreciated.

Funding information

The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Grant No. 2017YFC0805402), the Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51890911), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51509181).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Civil EngineeringTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Coast Civil Structure Safety of Ministry of EducationTianjin UniversityTianjinChina
  3. 3.Department of Civil Engineering and ArchitectureSaga UniversitySaga CityJapan

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