Acta Geotechnica

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 1883–1904 | Cite as

An experimental study on the micromechanical behavior of pumice

  • H. He
  • K. SenetakisEmail author
Research Paper


Pumice has a large potential to be used in structural and geotechnical engineering projects as a lightweight aggregate, and it is a material of unique characteristics. Gravel-sized pumice from Yunnan, China, was examined in the present study with a custom-built micromechanical apparatus investigating the properties of pairs of grains at their interfaces subjected to monotonic and cyclic tests under different saturation states. Based on interferometer measurements, the vesicular surface of the pumice was characterized to be very rough. From the interface micromechanical experiments, it was shown that the virgin surfaces appeared to be very soft under normal loading tests, during which micro-asperity breakage was caused. After preloading and preshearing, the normal load–displacement curves became much smoother and the Young’s moduli, which remained relatively low in magnitude compared with other geo-materials previously studied, could be quantified applying the Hertzian model. Large hysteretic loops were observed from cyclic normal load tests. Plastic displacements dominated the first normal loading cycle, while elastic displacements prevailed in the subsequent cycles. High values of the apparent coefficient of friction were observed from the monotonic shearing tests. A modification of the power value of the Mindlin and Deresiewicz model was necessary to be applied during the fitting of the experimental data so that theoretical and laboratory curves could match. It was shown that this power had a direct correlation with the coefficient of friction.


Friction Grain scale testing Interface properties Micromechanics Pumice Stiffness 



The work described in this paper was fully supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, Project no. “CityU 11206617.”


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Yeung Kin Man Academic Building, Blue Zone 6/FCity University of Hong KongKowloonChina

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