Acta Geotechnica

, 3:191 | Cite as

Influence of the initial water content and dry density on the soil–water retention curve and the shrinkage behavior of a compacted clay

  • Emanuel BirleEmail author
  • Dirk Heyer
  • Norbert Vogt
Research Paper


The paper presents the results of an experimental study on the effects of the initial water content and dry density on the soil–water retention curve and the shrinkage behavior of a compacted Lias-clay. The initial conditions after compaction (initial water content and initial dry density) have been chosen on the basis of three Proctor tests of different compaction efforts. According to the eight chosen initial conditions clay samples have been compacted statically. The relation between total suction and water content was determined for the drying path starting from the initial conditions without previous saturation of the specimens. A chilled-mirror dew-point hygrometer was used for the suction measurements. For the investigation of the shrinkage behavior cylindrical specimens were dried to desired water contents step-by-step without previous saturation. The volume of the specimens was measured by means of a caliper. Based on the test results the influence of different initial conditions on the soil suction and the shrinkage behavior is analyzed. The soil–water retention curves obtained in terms of the gravimetric water content are independent of the initial dry density. At water contents above approximately 11–12.5% a strong influence of the compaction water content is observed. At smaller water contents, the soil–water retention curve is independent of the compaction water content. The results of the shrinkage tests show that the influence of the compaction dry density on the shrinkage behavior is negligible. Similar to the drying behavior of saturated samples a primary and a residual drying process could be distinguished. The primary drying process is strongly influenced by the initial water content. In contrast, the rate of the volume change of the residual drying process is unaffected by the initial water content.


Clay Compaction Dew-point hygrometer Shrinkage Soil–water retention curve Suction Unsaturated soils 



The authors are grateful to Dr. M. Boso for lively discussion and helpful suggestions. They also wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zentrum GeotechnikTU MünchenMunichGermany

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