Application of fractal theory to characterize desiccation cracks in contaminated clayey soils

  • Binbin Yang
  • Junhong YuanEmail author
Original Paper


The formation and development of desiccation cracks in contaminated clayey soils is a complex process that affects the strength, stability, and permeability of these soils. To investigate the relationship between different concentrations of pollutants and the characteristics of the desiccation cracks in contaminated clayey soils, soil samples are prepared with different concentrations of acetic acid as the pollutant in this study. Free desiccation tests are carried out to examine the cracks in the contaminated clayey soil samples in the laboratory setting. The rate of water loss and the development of surface desiccation cracks in the soil samples with different concentrations of acetic acid are monitored. The characteristics of the structure of the surface cracks are then described and quantitatively analyzed by using a geographic information system, which involves calculating the fractal dimension with ArcGIS. The results indicate that the characteristics of the development of the surface cracks are different due to the influence of different concentrations of acetic acid. The most rapid development of cracks takes place in the soil sample with 0.4 mol/L of acetic acid, as the influence of the concentration of acetic acid on the rate of water loss is minimal. Three stages are found in the development of cracks in the soil samples: the early, intermediate, and final stages of cracking. The fractal dimension increases rapidly with increased concentration of acetic acid in the early and intermediate stages of cracking. The results therefore have significance for dealing with acid-contaminated foundation and soils.


Fractal dimension Geographic information system Contaminated clayey soils Acetic acid Desiccation cracks 


Funding information

The authors would like to acknowledge financial support from the Natural Science Foundation of Inner Mongolia under Grant No. 2015MS0523.


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Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Resources and GeosciencesChina University of Mining and TechnologyXuzhouChina
  2. 2.Transportation InstituteInner Mongolia UniversityHohhotChina

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