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SN Applied Sciences

, 1:460 | Cite as

A critical reappraisal of residual soils as compacted soil liners

  • Endene Emmanuel
  • Vivi AnggrainiEmail author
  • S. S. R. Gidigasu
Review Paper
  • 64 Downloads
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. 2. Earth and Environmental Sciences (general)

Abstract

Compacted residual soils are often used as liner materials in engineered landfills, tailings dams, solar ponds, and canals, etc. to minimize the migration of contaminants into the surrounding environment and groundwater. To date, there has not been an extensive and adequate review of the suitability of different residual soil types for use as compacted liner materials. This paper reviews the suitability, merits, demerits, and possible applications of using expansive and lateritic residual soils as compacted soil liners. The review is then complemented by a study of the geotechnical properties of lateritic residual and shrinkable soils from Peninsular Malaysia. Suitability was assessed based on engineering property data for both soil types, collected from various journal papers, workshops, proceedings of conferences, and symposia from around the world. These properties were then compared with the standard requirements for use as liner materials. Descriptive statistics were employed to better assess the individual criteria of using both residual soil types as compacted soil liners. The results indicate that expansive and lateritic soils can be effectively utilized as liner materials if more acceptable materials are not readily available. The study addresses untreated soils but does not discuss the stabilization aspects.

Keywords

Compacted soil liners Residual soils Engineering properties Waste containment Lateritic soils Expansive soils 

1 Introduction

In recent years, concerns about environmental degradation, groundwater contamination by leachate from landfills and tailings, seepage of chemicals from road accidents and pollution of subsurface strata from accidental spills have led to a growing worldwide interest in the development of a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution to minimize these problems. Among the different material techniques employed to minimize these menaces, particularly in waste containment facilities, geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs) has proven to be an easy, flexible, and reliable material technique. This is primarily because of their low hydraulic conductivity (kw < 10−10 m/s) [1, 2, 3, 4]. However, under local conditions, the construction cost of using geosynthetic liner materials is exorbitant, due to the non-existence of a local industry producing such materials. Furthermore, because of their limited thickness, these materials are subject to degradation, which affects their proper functionality as extensively discussed by [1]. Traditionally, compacted soil liners (CSLs) were used, and they are now gaining acceptance once again, either as single liners or composite liners. This is due to their low construction cost relative to their counterparts; moreover, the soils are naturally occurring and are readily available.

Over recent decades, hundreds of original research papers, technical notes, technical reports, and case studies on the application of different residual soil types as compacted liner materials in landfills, surface impoundments (e.g., mine tailings storage facilities, heap leach pads, ponds, canals) and secondary containment of above-grade fuel storage tanks, have been published in scientific journals, conference proceedings, seminars, and academic workshops etc. [5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. An overview of compacted soil liners was discussed by [11, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21], and the advantages of compacted soil liners were discussed by [5, 8, 13, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26]. Despite this wealth of information, only a few studies have attempted to comprehensively review these aspects through reference to published scientific data. A possible reason for the lack of review documentation on these aspects could be that: over the past few decades, interest has shifted from CSL to GCL, owing to its peculiar advantages including; low hydraulic conductivity, low thickness, rapid installation, excellent self-healing characteristics, easy to repair, resistance to the effects of freeze/thaw cycles, greater amount of airspace, reduce overburden stress on compressible substratum, ability to withstand large differential settlement, etc. [1, 22, 27]. Nevertheless, the downsides associated with GCL as previously mentioned and discuss comprehensively by [1, 3, 28] have motivated the utilization of CSL. Consequently, the need to research and assimilate vital information on the topics above, thus addressing the knowledge gap cannot be overemphasized. Moreover, there is also a need to enhance current knowledge regarding technical information relating to the engineering properties of lateritic and shrinkable soils occurring in Malaysia through field and laboratory studies. This study, therefore, attempts to address these critical issues by presenting a summary of the core research outcomes that have occurred over previous decades, with a focus on the utilization of residual soils as compacted liner materials.

1.1 Essentialness of soil compaction

Uncompacted natural soils often consist of an amalgamation of the four basic soil particle sizes: clay, silt, sand, and gravel. They usually possess low shear and tensile strength, high porosity, high permeability, and their properties are mainly influenced by the surrounding environmental conditions [29]. Conversely, soil compaction remolds the soil into clods, thus minimizing the interclod voids and ensuring reductions in the permeability and consolidation-settlement of the compacted soil, as well as increasing tensile and shear strength [16, 30]. Therefore, the process by which air is displaced from the pores between soil grains (due to the densification caused by the application of mechanical stress) is termed soil compaction. Soil compaction is typically achieved within a precise range of moisture contents and dry densities. This specification is principally grounded in the aim of achieving a maximum dry density, therefore controlling the performance of compacted soil liners with respect to their permeability [30]. Hence, the key objectives of compacting a soil mass are to increase load-bearing capacity, prevent soil settlement and frost damage, provide stability, and reduce water seepage, swelling, and contraction [31, 32].

1.2 Soil compaction methods

Soil compaction techniques can be grouped into various categories with different viewpoints. Commonly used laboratory methods for soil compaction include the impact, static, kneading, and vibratory methods [33]. However, based on this study, emphasis is placed on the impact and static compaction methods. Proctor testing is a common and frequently adopted impact test method [34], while the static method uses a hydraulic press or pump to compress soils to given bulk densities [35, 36]. Previous researchers including [33, 35] compared the effects of static and impact methods on soil compaction and noted different results. Crispin et al. [37] noted similar results for a silty, sandy, and clayey soils. Doris-Asmani et al. [35] achieved an increase in bulk densities and strengths when soils were compacted statically, relative to those compacted with the dynamic proctor impact method. Ekwue et al. [38] indicated that similar strength values are observed when the same soils are compacted dynamically or statically at the same bulk densities and similar moisture contents. They concluded by indicating that the method of compaction is not a determining factor in soil strength.

2 Compacted soil liners (CSLs)

2.1 Definition

Sebastian and Sindhu [31] and Chinade et al. [39] defined CSLs as low-permeability barriers constructed of cohesive soils that are compacted to increase strength and homogeneity and to reduce porosity and permeability. When properly compacted, soil liners can achieve a permeability of the order 10−7 cm/s or less, due to the fine particles and plastic properties of the soils. Nowadays, compacted soils are often used in conjunction with geomembranes to form a composite liner. The effectiveness of composite liners results from the advantages of the two different materials with different mechanical and hydraulic properties [40]. Moreover, encouraging conclusions from laboratory and in situ pilot tests have also proved the potential use of compacted soil liners as effective barrier materials.

2.2 Classification

Compacted soils have been utilized for many years as single or composite liner materials in solid waste containment facilities. Composite barrier systems are comprised of a geomembrane overlying either a CSL or GCL or both [41, 42, 43]. In the last few decades, their application as composite liners has gained widespread popularity in optimizing liner system properties. There is no standard classification for compacted soils. However, the types of liner systems for which compacted soils are utilized can be accounted for. [40] classified liner systems into five major categories including double liner systems, double with bottom composite systems, double composite liner systems, single liner systems, and single composite systems (as illustrated in Fig. 1). The double liner concept was initially introduced by [44]. A double liner consists of two liners with an intervening leachate collection system (LCS) at the top and a drainage layer, called the leakage detection system (LDS), at the bottom. The drainage layer is used to detect, collect, and remove leachate between the two liners. A double liner system with a bottom composite liner consists of a single liner at the top and a composite liner at the bottom. It also includes an LCS above the top liner and an LDS between the liners. Double composite liner systems consist of composite liners as top and bottom liners. Both LCS and LDS exist above the top liner and between the liners, respectively. Such systems are usually considered in situations where a high level of environmental protection is required. A single liner system consists of only one-liner with an LCS above the liner. The liner may consist of either a geomembrane or a low hydraulic conductivity soil [45]. A liner system consisting of two or more different, low hydraulic conductivity materials placed in direct contact with each other is termed a single composite liner system [45]. An example of this would be a geomembrane and a low hydraulic conductivity soil layer.
Fig. 1

Different linear systems.

(Modified after [40])

2.3 The evolution of compacted soil liner systems

The application of compacted soil liners commenced in the early 1970s. The first application of compacted soil liners as hydraulic barriers was in earth dams for water impoundment [20]. Since then, their specific utilization as hydraulic barriers has advanced to a wide range of applications. They have been employed in canal linings [46], landfills and surface impoundments [5, 19], sewage lagoons [47], heap leaching pads [48, 49], mine tailings dams [7, 8], chemical liquid storage ponds, and evaporation ponds [50, 51]. Among the various applications, CSLs used in municipal solid waste landfills have received the most significant attention in recent times, resulting in numerous related literature. According to [19, 52], in the USA (where many of the recent developments occurred) CSLs were not frequently utilized until the early 1970s. Until about 1982, virtually all landfills were constructed of compacted soil liners using a single layer [53]. In 1982, their usage as single liners in landfills and other liquid storage impoundments was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States (USEPA) unless the landfill owners and operators could demonstrate that they were adequate. The ruling was based on previous studies that indicated soil liners failed to meet the USEPA requirement of zero infiltration and zero seepage of contaminants into the ground [19]. The resolution resulted from earlier findings, indicating that concentrated organic chemicals affected compacted soil liners and lead to considerable increases in liner permeability [54].

Moreover, the mediocre performance of some soil liners, due to poor construction techniques, was also a drawback [50]. In 1984, USEPA made amendments to the application of liner materials in landfills and other liquid containment facilities. The amendments stipulated the employment of double liners in these different liquid storage facilities. As such, the current environmental legislation of the USA allows the utilization of compacted soil liners in combination with synthetic geomembranes to form composite liner systems. As well as the USA, CSLs are extensively used throughout the globe. The majority of developed countries (e.g., European countries and Canada) advocate the utilization of CSLs in amalgamation with geomembranes to form a composite liner system. However, in developing countries, most landfills and other liquid impoundments still need to be lined, and CSLs appear to be the preferred choice in the case of new landfills [20]. Nonetheless, the practice of using double liner systems in sanitary landfills and other liquid impoundments is emerging in developing countries [55].

2.4 Merits of compacted soil liners

Advantages of CSLs, compared to their conventional counterparts (such as GCLs and geomembranes) are their ability to meet various design specifications and performance standards and still retain their integrity. Several researchers [5, 8, 13, 22, 24, 56] have examined the advantages of CSLs compared to conventional ones, and they are summarized below:
  • Compacted soil liners can achieve a low permeability of the order 10−7 cm/s or less.

  • High attenuation capacity.

  • Excellent self-healing properties, especially those containing montmorillonite.

  • Naturally occurring and readily available.

  • Relatively inexpensive when present on site or nearby.

  • Lower diffusive flux of contaminants.

  • Possible decrease in hydraulic conductivity due to the precipitate formation, biomass growth, and solids accumulation.

  • Less vulnerability to mechanical accidents (punctures).

  • Better solute flux and breakthrough time.

  • Good compatibility with the permeating fluid/leachate.

  • Less prone to ion exchange.

2.5 Demerits of compacted soil liners

The following engineering problems are associated with using compacted soil liners.

2.5.1 Desiccation cracking

Desiccation cracking is a problem associated with compacted soil liners. Repeated wetting and drying cycles, with seasonal changes in temperature, resulting in significant dryness of the soil liner and associated cracking [24]. However, successful techniques have been identified that are capable of improving soil properties and minimizing desiccation cracks, such as the application of a surface moisture barrier above the soil layer and the use of soil additives, such as bentonite and fibers [24]. Akayuli et al. [8] and Rowe [26] indicated that some soils could naturally self-seal cracks, due to their expansive nature.

2.5.2 Material unavailability

Tropical residual soils are extensively scattered throughout the world, covering approximately 2.3 billion hectares [57]. Despite being widespread, the availability of soils with the potential properties to be used as compacted liners remains a challenge at specific sites. A common practice utilized in minimizing this problem is blending the natural soil available on or near the site with bentonite or other materials, such as polymers and waste materials, etc.

2.5.3 Difficulty of placement

The placement of CSLs in landfills and other liquid impoundments is often problematic and requires critical attention. As such, well-trained personnel are required for their placement. Various techniques and specifications are essential in achieving an excellent placement of the liner materials as outlined in [58].

2.5.4 Others

Other problems associated with compacted soil liners include but are not limited to: difficulty in withstanding differential settlement, difficulty in repairing, less airspace resulting from greater layer thickness, field hydraulic conductivity testing is sometimes required, high cost if on-site soils are not available and a slower installation process.

2.6 Requirements of compacted soil liners

Marcos and Pejon [59] indicated that soil liners should possess the following properties (among others): low permeability (< 10−7 cm/s), greater than 10% clay size content and a plasticity index (PI) ranging between 12 and 65%. Moreover, according to [60], the various specifications for compacted soil liners include:
  • A cation exchange capacity of at least 10 meq/100 g.

  • A maximum allowable permeability of the order 10−7 cm/s (10−9 m/s) or less.

  • Compatibility of the leachate with the soil liner, to prevent a significant increase in permeability on exposure to leachate.

  • Since diffusion is the dominant transport mechanism, a chemical flux point of 10−8 cm/s or less is preferable.

Declan and Paul [61] and O’Sullivan and Quigley [62] recommended the following suite of tests for evaluating the suitability of a potential source of soil liner: hydraulic conductivity, unconfined compressive strength, compaction characteristics, natural moisture content, Atterberg limits, grading, organic content, and moisture condition value. Moreover, researchers such as [15, 59] have also identified the cation exchange capacity (CEC), soil mineralogy, electrical conductivity, specific surface area (SSA), and pH as suitability criteria for assessment of soil liners. Table 1 indicates the minimum requirements for soil liner specification given by various environmental agencies and researchers. From Table 1, it is observed that the liquid limit of CSLs range from 20 to 90%. The plasticity index ranges between 7 and 65% and the activity range from 0.30 to 1.25.
Table 1

Requirements for compacted soil liner material

Parameters

Standard requirement

References

Grain size analysis

Clay size content > 20%

[63]

Largest grain size ≤ 63 mm

[64, 65]

Silt size content ≥ 15%

[65]

Largest grain size ≤ 50 mm

[11]

% gravel ≤ 30

[11, 66]

Clay fraction ≥ 10%

[61, 62, 67, 175]

Fines content ≥ 30%

[61, 68]

Fines content ≥ 20%

[66, 69]

Clay fraction ≥ 30%

[26]

Fines content ≥ 15%

[65]

Atterberg consistency limits

LL ≥ 30% PI ≥ 15%

[63]

LL ≥ 20% PI ≥ 7%

[70]

LL ≥ 30% PI ≥ 10%

[60]

LL ≥ 30% PI > 10%

[71]

LL ≤ 90%, 10% ≤ PI ≤ 65%

[61, 66]

LL ≤ 90%

[62, 67]

LL ≥ 30%

[72]

PI ≥ 7%

[73]

Activity ≥ 0.3

[60, 76]

Classification

CL and CI

[63, 69]

CL and CH

[74]

Specific gravity

≥ 2.2

[65]

≥ 2.5

[75]

Activity

≥ 0.3

[60, 76]

< 1.25

[63]

Moisture-density relationship

MDD ≥ 1.70 g/cm3

[65]

MDD ≥ 1.70 Mg/m3

[14]

> 95% proctor density

[175]

Wopt + (2–3%)

[69]

Thickness

300–600 mm

[22]

≥ 1 m

[61, 96]

≥ 50 cm

[77]

0.9–1 m

[13]

Unconfined compressive strength

≥ 200 kPa

[68]

Remolded undrained shear strength

≥ 50kN/m2

[66]

Volumetric shrinkage strain

≤ 4%

[68]

Coefficient of permeability

≤ 1 × 10−6 cm/s

[60, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 175]

≤ 1 × 10−7 cm/s

[13, 22, 61, 65, 69, 75, 82, 96, 175]

≤ 1 × 10−8 cm/s

[63, 83]

3 Applications of compacted soil liners

Literature suggests that using compacted soil liners in geo-environmental engineering is feasible in different environmental protection applications including landfills, solar ponds, tailings dams, canals, waste rock storage facilities, among others. As such, their utilization has gained wide acceptance in various domains, as discussed below.

3.1 Engineered landfills

Landfills are well-engineered facilities, designed and constructed to impound municipal, hazardous, industrial, construction and demolition waste materials as well as coal combustion residuals, among other things [42, 84, 85]. Modern landfills have liner systems incorporated to prevent the pollution of groundwater and the surrounding environment by the contaminants generated by the waste deposited on them [5, 39]. The liner system comprises a combination of one or more collection layers, drainage layers and low hydraulic conductivity barriers [40]. The low-permeability barrier could be a geomembrane, a CSL or a combination of both. As such, CSLs are used as barrier materials in landfills to segregate the waste materials from the surrounding environment, provide environmental protection and prevent groundwater contamination. Various scholars have evaluated the suitability of naturally occurring geomaterials for utilization as CSLs in landfills [5, 6, 13, 23, 86, 87, 88, 89]. Fluet et al. [40] reported that the utilization of CSLs as single liner systems in construction/demolition debris landfills could be recommended as an effective liner material to prevent leachate migration. Also, studies by [45, 90, 91, 92, 93] have revealed that seepage rates through geomembrane liners with holes can be greatly minimized if the geomembrane is placed in direct contact with a compacted soil layer of low permeability, to form a composite liner. Nowadays, because of the effective nature of composite liner systems, an increasing number of solid waste landfill operators and designers have resorted to this technique to ensure long-term protection of human health and the environment as well as meet the required standards for landfill liner systems [40].

3.2 Tailings dams

Riverine disposal, submarine disposal, wetland retention, backfilling, dry stacking, and storage behind dammed impoundments are the various approaches utilized for handling and storing tailings [94, 95]. Storage of tailings behind dammed impoundments (frequently called ‘tailings ponds’ or ‘tailings dams’) is the main method currently employed by large mining and mineral processing companies. Tailings dams are well-engineered facilities constructed to store the thickened, pasted, slurried or dry-stacked tailings resulting from mineral processing activities [8, 96]. By the early 2000s, the global existence of at least 3500 tailings dams (ranging from a few hectares to thousands of hectares in area) was reported by Martin and Davies [97]. Akayuli et al. [8] reported the occurrence of fine-grained rock materials and some toxic chemicals in mine tailings which are potentially harmful to the surrounding environment if not appropriately disposed of or contained. As such, the proper storage of tailings has, therefore, become a key environmental concern and hence, mineral processing companies and environmental agencies are obliged to store tailings behind specially designed tailings dams or ponds that constitute bottom liner systems. The liner systems aim to minimize the migration of contaminants and toxic chemicals from the tailings into the surrounding environment and, therefore, protect the soil and groundwater from pollution. Various researchers have evaluated the suitability of naturally occurring geomaterials and waste materials for utilization as CSLs in tailings dams [7, 8, 98, 99, 100, 101]. Depending on the geochemistry of the tailings and process solution, the tailings may be stored within various types of liner systems. This is often done if the tailings and/or process solution contain constituents that may have a negative impact on the environment [96]. Single composite liner systems are the most frequently used. Double composite liner systems are not often utilized due to the hydraulic properties of the tailings [96]. Indeed, it is important to note that a single composite liner system can be effectively utilized in tailings dams when the hydraulic head of the tailings exceeds 100 m. This is because of the formation of a low hydraulic conductivity layer by the tailings above the liner material [96].

3.3 Solar ponds

Solar ponds are known to be an effective and cheap technique for trapping and storing solar energy on a large scale. A salt gradient solar pond comprises three (3) zones: an upper convective zone (UCZ) of low salinity; a non-convective zone (NCZ) in the middle of the pond, with salinity that increases with depth; and a lower convective zone (LCZ) with high salinity at the bottom of the pond. A major drawback of the salt gradient solar pond is seepage through the soil, which simultaneously contaminates the soil and reduces the efficiency of the solar pond [102]. Studies have indicated that this challenge can be minimized by utilizing an effective barrier system around the inner surfaces of the pond. French et al. [103], Fynn and Short [104] and Hull and Nielsen [105], all reported the effective utilization of synthetic materials as hydraulic barriers for small prototype solar ponds. However, studies by [102] indicated that, if such synthetic liners are utilized in large solar ponds (in an area greater than 5 km2) constructed for electricity generation, the cost of the solar pond increases by as much as 30%. Under such circumstances, local clay deposits can be effectively utilized as an alternative for reducing liner costs and simultaneously preventing soil contamination, especially in developing countries [106]. A study by [107] indicated that compacted kaolinite clay had the same order of hydraulic conductivity as membrane liners for its application in large solar ponds. Compacted clay and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) were tested by [108] for their suitability as lining schemes in solar ponds. Their results revealed that an LDPE film sandwiched between two layers of compacted clay could be utilized effectively as liners for solar ponds. Researchers such as [102, 106, 107, 109, 110] indicated that utilization of compacted soils as a substitute for synthetic materials for liner applications in solar ponds could lead to a reduction in the cost of construction and the risk of pollution to the subsoil and groundwater.

4 Materials used for construction of compacted soil liners

Compacted soil liners typically consist of materials of clay size fractions, compacted in layers called lifts [39]. Commonly used materials for soil liner construction include but are not limited to: natural soils, bentonite-soil blends, fiber-soil blends, and waste materials-treated soils. CSLs constructed from naturally occurring soils (such as expansive, lateritic and ferralitic soils, etc.) which contain a significant amount of clay and silt size fractions are the most common and frequently used types of compacted soil liners. However, if the naturally occurring soils found around the landfill sites or liquid impoundments are not fine enough for liner application, a common practice is to blend the available soil with a suitable stabilizer to achieve the required properties [77]. Nonetheless, the focus of this study is on the suitability of natural residual soils as compacted soil liners.

4.1 Residual soils

4.1.1 Definition and characteristics of residual soils

Various researchers and institutions have defined residual soils with respect to different viewpoints, for instance, McCarthy [111] defined them as “soils form due to the accumulation of organic material or from rocks and remain at the place of formation.” Brand and Philipson [112] also defined residual soil as “soils formed by in situ weathering, but with the destruction of the original rock texture.” Blight [113] defined residual soils as “all material of a soil consistency located below the local ancient erosion surface, i.e., below the pebble marker.” Sowers [114] defined residual soil as “the product of rock weathering that remains in situ above the yet-to-be weathered parent rock.” Public Works Institute Malaysia [115] defined residual soils as “soils form in place by the breakdown of the parent material and has not been transported to any substantial distance.”

The main characteristics of residual soils include but are not limited to:
  • They form a mantle of substantial thickness, which varies from place to place, depending on the factors of the formation.

  • They display identifiable in situ, differential horizontal horizons and show no formation stratification.

  • The nature of the parent rocks predominantly influences their composition.

  • They have low strength due to bond destruction processes [116].

4.1.2 Classification of residual soils

Several efforts have been made over past decades, by various researchers such as [117, 118, 119] to devise methods for the classification of residual soils. However, despite these attempts, no generally accepted methods have been established. This is not surprising given the very diverse nature of residual soils, and it is unlikely that a universal scheme is a practical possibility. However, a grouping of residual soils is suggested as shown in Table 2, not to create a systematic classification of residual soils but to aid engineers to identify residual soil types which can be expected to have analogous engineering characteristics. Studies have suggested that expansive and lateritic residual soils are readily available and common in most tropical countries and, as such, are used extensively for the construction of liners, hence our motivation in reviewing the suitability of both soils for compacted liner construction.
Table 2

Classification of residual soils

(Modified after [120])

Grouping system

Common pedological names used for groups

Descriptive information on in situ state

Major division

Sub-group

Parent rock

Information on structure

Group A

Soils with strong mineralogical influence

(a) Strong macro-structure influence

Miscellaneous

Give details of type of rock from which the soil has been derived

Describe nature of structure:

 Stratification

 Fractures, fissures, faults, etc

 Presence of partially weathered rock

 

(b) Strong micro-structure influence

Miscellaneous

 

Describe nature of micro-structure and/or evidence of it:

 Influence of remolding

 Sensitivity

 Liquidity index

 

(c) Little or no structural influence

Miscellaneous

 

Indicate evidence for little or no structural effect

Group B

Soils strongly influenced by normal clay minerals

(a) Smectite (montmorillonite) group

Black cotton Soils

Black Soils

Tropical Black Earths

Grumusols

Vertisols

  
 

(b) Other clay minerals?

   

Group C

Soils strongly influenced by clay minerals essentially found only in residual soil

(a) Allophane sub-group

Volcanic ash soils

Andosols or andisols

Andepts

 

Give basis for inclusion on this group. Describe any structural influences either macro-structure or micro-structure

 

(b) Halloysite sub-group

Tropical red clays

Latosols

Oxisols

Ferralsols

 

As above

 

(c) Sesquioxide sub-group—gibbsite, goethite, hematite

Lateritic Soils

Laterites

Ferralitic Soils

Duricrusts

 

Give basis for inclusion on this group. Describe any structural effects especially cementation effects or the sesquioxides

5 Suitability of expansive and lateritic residual soils as compacted soil liners

5.1 Introduction

The suitability of two typical soil liner materials, namely lateritic and expansive soils, were evaluated. Data on the geotechnical characteristics of these soils were collected from published papers in the proceedings of conferences and professional journals. The information collated for the soils includes the results of particle size analysis, plasticity characteristics, strength, and hydraulic parameters. The literature search employed included Scopus and Google Scholar databases, complemented with Springer Link, Taylor & Francis Online, and Research Gate platforms. Information on both expansive and lateritic soils was collected from 21 countries. This was then supplemented by a study of the geotechnical properties of lateritic residual soil and shrinkable marine clay from Peninsular Malaysia. The geotechnical tests (i.e., grading, Atterberg limits, specific gravity, compaction, and unconfined compressive strength) conducted on both the lateritic residual soil and shrinkable marine clay in the current study were determined in accordance with [121] specification, while the hydraulic conductivity test was conducted using the compaction mold permeameter under failing head condition as recommended by [122]. The data obtained from literature were analyzed using statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) software. The analysis performed was descriptive statistics and one sample t test using a confidence limit of 0.05. Shrinkable marine clay was utilized in the current study under the category of expansive soil because the major mineral constituent of the marine clay is smectite (montmorillonite) [176], which is the main mineral in expansive soils as reported in literature. The montmorillonite clay mineral accounts for the shrink-swell behavior of the expansive soils. Figure 2a, b shows the generalized soil profiles for the lateritic and shrinkable marine soils obtained from the test pits during this study. Tables 3, 4 and 5 summarize the information retrieved for expansive and lateritic soils from the published literature, as well as those obtained from the current study, respectively. Likewise, Tables 6 and 7 present the results of the statistical analyses for the expansive and lateritic residual soils, respectively. From the tables, generalized engineering characteristics and indices were developed for the two soil types and their suitability assessed by comparing them to the requirements of compacted soil liner materials.
Fig. 2

a Typical marine clay profile from Malaysia. b. Typical lateritic soil profile from Malaysia

Table 3

Summary of index and engineering properties of expansive soils

Location

Grading (%)

Fines content (%)

LL (%)

PL (%)

PI (%)

SG

Activity

Soil group

MDD (Mg/m3)

OMC (%)

UCS (kPa)

HC (cm/s)

References

Sand

Silt

Clay

USCS

ASSHTO

Nigeria

   

85.0

67.5

22.8

44.7

2.36

 

CL

A-7-6

1.400

21.0

312.5

1.88E−8

[123]

10

45.0

45.0

> 90

78.0

31.0

47.0

2.56

1.04

  

1.412

27.0

124.1

1.0E−9

[124]

   

88

85.0

46.91

38.09

2.26

  

A-7-6

    

[125]

38

29.0

32.5

> 60

63.0

27.0

36.0

1.94

1.11

CH

A-7-6 (13)

1.34

24.0

220

 

[126]

Australia

11

22

67

89

88.0

34.0

54.0

2.83

0.8

CH

A-7-5 (20)

1.538

21

  

[127]

3

26

71

97

91.0

31.0

60.0

2.84

0.85

CH

A-7-5 (20)

1.562

25.5

   

Tanzania

19

31

48

79

60.0

30.0

30.0

 

0.7

  

1.730

18.7

  

[128]

25

37

38

75

73.2

29.5

43.7

 

1.2

 

A-7-6 (20)

1.260

36

   

India

6

54.0

40.0

94.0

82.0

35.0

47.0

 

1.18

CH

 

1.29

35

  

[129]

24

10.0

66.0

76.0

170

50.0

120

2.65

1.82

  

1.56

21.38

170

 

[130]

2

22.0

76.0

96.0

85

39.0

46.0

2.68

0.6

CH

 

1.42

26.89

 

1.89E−7

[131]

Ghana

19.70

18.0

63.3

81.3

91.7

29.60

62.12

2.37

0.98

CH

A-7-6

1.61

23.98

143

3.0E−7

[8]

37.0

15.2

46.5

61.7

74.7

26.55

48.13

2.30

1.03

CH

A-7-6

1.82

17.54

  

[132]

South Africa

    

35

21.0

14.0

        

[133]

Sri Lanka

40.0

26.0

34.0

60.0

44.0

19.0

25.0

2.64

0.74

CI

    

0.87E−8

[134]

48.0

12.0

40.0

52.0

50.0

21.0

29.0

2.74

0.73

CI

    

3.2E−8

 

Egypt

    

91.6

61.0

30.60

    

1.79

15.10

209

 

[135]

20.0

55.0

25.0

75.0

91.6

61.0

30.60

 

1.22

MH

A-7-5

1.79

15.10

209

 

[136]

Algeria

22.3

47.5

25.7

73.2

83.7

32.8

51.0

 

1.98

CH

 

1.60

19.43

120

3.0E−9

[137]

Saudi Arabia

1.0

7.0

92.0

99.1

136

60.0

76.0

 

0.83

CH

 

1.18

32.7

  

[138]

Honduras

2.0

23.0

75.0

96.0

126

58.0

68.0

2.64

0.91

 

A-7-5 (20)

    

[139]

Rhodesia

34.0

11.0

55.0

66.0

72.0

24.0

48.0

 

0.87

 

A-7-6 (17)

    

[139]

Horn of Africa

3.0–12.0

25–70

18–73

 

43–103

17–49

26–54

2.4–2.5

0.6–1.1

  

1.108–1.278

22–49.

  

[140]

Morocco

14

32

54

86

56

24

32

 

0.59

 

A-7-6

    

[139]

19

25

56

81

59

31

28

 

0.5

 

A-7-5

     

Chad Basin

10

30

60

90

52

19

33

 

0.82

CL

A-7-6

    

[139]

14

34

52

86

56

30

26

 

0.4

  

1.650

18.6

   

Kenya

30

8

62

70

104

34

70

2.28

1.15

      

[139]

8

37

52

89

72

24

48

2.47

0.85

 

A-7-5

     

Ethiopia

4

38

56

94

109

28

81

 

1.36

  

1.485

23

  

[139]

Botswana

  

47.9

 

53–55

24–28

27–19

2.6–2.7

   

1.236

22

  

[141]

Palestine

16

26

58

84

69

27

42

2.79

0.72

      

[139]

Cameroon

42

58

0

58

64

37

27

 

1.7

 

A-7-5

    

[139]

 

19

43

38

81

62

35

27

 

0.71

 

A-7-6

     

Zambia

14

35

51

86

49

16

33

2.58

0.65

  

1.802

16

  

[139]

LL liquid limit; PL plastic limit; PI plasticity index; SG specific gravity; MDD maximum dry density; OMC optimum moisture content; USCS unified soil classification system; AASHTO american association of state highway and transportation official; UCS unconfined compressive strength; HC hydraulic conductivity

Table 4

Summary of index and engineering properties of lateritic soils

Location

Grading (%)

Fines content (%)

LL (%)

PL (%)

PI (%)

SG

Activity

Soil group

MDD (Mg/m3)

OMC (%)

UCS (kPa)

HC (cm/s)

References

Sand

Silt

Clay

USCS

ASSHTO

Nigeria

59.0

9.0

30

39.0

21.6

8.0

13.9

 

0.46

CL

 

1.9

12.1

 

3.47E−7

[25]

64.0

11

22.0

33.0

42.0

18.4

23.6

 

1.07

CI

A-2-4

1.7

15.0

 

7.54E−7

[142]

37.0

30.0

33.0

63.0

43.0

23.0

20.0

2.7

0.60

CL

 

1.7

19.0

> 200

< 1.0E−7

[143]

33.0

23.0

44.0

67.0

48.0

23.0

25.0

2.7

0.57

CL

 

1.8

18.6

 

2.99E−8

[144]

Hawaii

28.7

51.0

20.3

71.3

45.5

38.7

6.8

2.94

0.33

  

1.41

   

[145]

31.0

38.7

30.3

69.0

49.1

38.5

10.6

2.94

0.35

  

1.35

    

Ethiopia

12.7

9.8

3.4

13.2

56.0

36.0

20.0

3.0

5.88

GM

A-2-7

1.72

23.2

553

 

[146]

6.5

9.9

4.4

14.3

56.0

38.0

18.0

2.86

4.1

GM

A-2-7

1.58

25.0

   

USA

18.0

38.0

44.0

82.0

48.0

39.0

9.0

3.17

0.20

      

[147]

30.0

16.0

54.0

70.0

55.0

40.0

15.0

3.27

0.28

       

Cameroon

38

32

23

55.0

57

31

26.0

2.83

1.13

GC

A-2-7

2.17

10.2

  

[148]

36.6

31.6

24

55.6

73

38

35.0

2.75

1.46

GM

A-2-7

1.94

14.5

   

Ghana

36.0

4.50

40.4

44.94

59.74

23.7

36.0

 

0.89

CH

 

2.2

12.6

  

[149]

56.5

15.0

13.0

28.0

58.0

27.4

30.6

 

2.35

CH

  

13.1

   

24.0

11.0

22.0

33.0

48

19.0

29.0

2.7

1.3

CH-ML

A-2-7

2.0

18.0

600

 

[150]

22.0

11.0

26.0

37.0

52

24.0

28.0

2.7

1.1

CH-MH

A-7-6

1.9

17.0

200

  

Malaysia

23.0

30.0

34.0

64.0

75

41.0

34.0

2.7

1.0

MH

 

1.3

34.0

270

 

[151]

77.5

  

21.64

58.6

52.5

6.2

2.6

   

1.9

13.5

  

[152]

84.10

10.3

5.87

15.90

73.0

36.50

36.50

2.84

6.2

MH

 

1.495

30.50

164.1

1.20E−7

[5]

Thailand

    

39.1

23.2

15.9

2.8

   

1.9

12.6

700–800

2.26E−7

[153]

India

57.4

5.0

1.20

6.20

42.0

33.33

8.67

2.6

7.2

  

1.7

16.1

  

[154]

26.9

1.3

  

41

26.3

14.7

2.5

   

1.9

15.5

124.6

2.06E−5

[155]

    

34.0

13.0

21.0

2.4

   

1.8

17.3

111.8

1.31E−6

[156]

Senegal

20–30

  

8–14

38.8–39.8

18.5–20.8

19–20.3

   

A2-6

2.0

11.7

  

[157]

16–22

  

10–12

28.5–32.5

14.8–16.3

13.7–16.2

   

A2-6

2.2

6.1

   

Brazil

40.0

14.0

44.0

59.0

34.0

9.0

25.0

2.6

0.57

ML

 

1.8

16.0

  

[99]

27.0

14.0

59.0

73.0

45.0

30.0

15.0

 

0.25

  

1.6

26.3

 

1.0E−7

[158]

28.0

6

66

72

69.5

40.9

28.6

2.73

0.43

CL

A-7-5

1.49

27.9

300

 

[159]

Sudan

   

37.1

25

16

9.0

    

2.10

9.70

  

[160]

Ivory Coast

   

21.0

48

24

24.0

   

A-2-6

2.1

10.0

  

[161]

Uganda

   

34

38

17

22.0

   

A-2-6

 

13.0

  

[146]

Kenya

   

28

45

31

14.0

   

A-2-7

 

19.0

  

[146]

Gambia

   

22

36

16

20.0

   

A-2-6

    

[146]

Burkina Faso

   

11

22

12

10.0

   

A-2-7

2.2

7.0

  

[162]

Tanzania

   

25

34

19

10.0

   

A-2-4

2.1

9.0

  

[146]

Niger

   

25

21

11

10.0

   

A-2-4

2.1

9.0

  

[146]

Congo

    

34

20

14.0

    

1.34

9.0

  

[163]

Angola

    

48–69

23–39

25–30

    

1.7–1.9

13–21

  

[164]

Table 5

Summary of geotechnical properties of shrinkable marine clay and lateritic soil (current study)

Properties

Shrinkable marine clay

Lateritic soil

Sand (%)

18.9

67.7

Silt (%)

43.5

7.3

Clay (%)

38.4

24.5

Fines contents (%)

81.9

28.8

Liquid limit (%)

77.8

60.9

Plastic limit (%)

34.4

34.4

Plasticity index (%)

43.4

26.5

Specific gravity

2.33

2.64

Activity

1.13

1.08

USCS

CH

MH

AASHTO

A-7-6

A-2-7

MDD (Mg/m3)

1.496

1.38

OMC (%)

20.5

17

UCS (kPa)

210.6

235.7

Permeability (cm/s)

8.26 × 10−8

1.74 × 10−7

Table 6

Descriptive statistics of the expansive soils at 95% confidence interval

Property

Standard

Mean

Mean difference

p value

95% confidence interval of the difference

Remark

Lower

Upper

Clay (%)

≥ 10

50.56

40.56

0.00

33.76

47.35

The mean clay content of 50.56 is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 10% (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement

Fines content (%)

≥ 30

80.59

50.59

0.00

45.88

55.30

The mean fines content of 80.59 is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 30% (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement

LL (%)

≤ 90

76.89

− 13.11

0.01

− 22.35

− 3.87

Significant differences exist between the mean LL and the standard requirement of 30 ≤ LL ≤ 90 because p values are < 0.05. The LL however falls within the limits and therefore meets the requirement

LL (%)

≥ 30

76.89

46.89

0.00

37.65

56.13

PI (%)

≤ 10

43.84

33.84

0.00

26.97

40.70

Significant differences exist between the mean PI and the standard requirement of 10 ≤ LL ≤ 65 because p values are < 0.05. The PI however falls within the limits and therefore meets the requirement

PI (%)

≤ 65

43.84

− 21.16

0.00

− 28.03

− 14.30

SG

> 2.5

2.53

0.03

0.55

− 0.07

0.13

The mean SG of 2.53 is not significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 2.5 (p value >  0.05) and therefore meets the requirement

Activity

≥ 0.3

0.96

0.66

0.00

0.52

0.80

The mean activity of 0.96 is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 0.3 (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement

MDD (Mg/m3)

≥ 1.70

1.49

− 0.21

0.00

− 0.30

− 0.11

The mean MDD of 1.49 Mg/m3 is significantly lower than the standard value of ≥ 1.70 Mg/m3 and therefore fails to meet the requirement

UCS (kPa)

≥ 200

188.45

− 11.55

0.62

− 64.86

41.76

The mean UCS of 188.45 kPa is not significantly different from the standard value of ≥ 200 kPa, however, it is less than the standard and therefore fails to meet the requirement

HC (cm/s)

≤ 1.0E−06

7.89E−08

− 9.21E−07

0.00

− 1.03E−06

− 8.12E−07

The mean hydraulic conductivity of 7.89E−08 cm/s is significantly lower than the standard value of ≤ 1.00E−06 cm/s and hence meets the requirement

Table 7

Descriptive statistics of the lateritic soils at 95% confidence interval

Property

Standard

Mean

Mean difference

p value

95% confidence interval of the difference

Remark

Lower

Upper

Clay (%)

≥ 10

29.27

19.27

0.00

11.28

27.25

The mean clay content of 29.27% is significantly higher than the standard value of 10% (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement

Fines content (%)

≥ 30

38.12

8.12

0.05

0.13

16.11

The mean fines content of 38.12% is higher than the requirement of ≥ 30% (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement

LL (%)

≤ 90

45.92

− 44.08

0.00

− 48.55

− 39.61

Significant differences exist between the mean LL and the standard requirement of 30 ≤ LL ≤ 90 because p values are < 0.05. The LL however falls within the limits and therefore meets the requirement

LL (%)

≥ 30

45.92

15.92

0.00

11.45

20.39

PI (%)

≤ 10

19.74

9.74

0.00

7.05

12.43

Significant differences exist between the mean PI and the standard requirement of 10 ≤ LL ≤ 65 because p values are < 0.05. The PI however falls within the limits and therefore meets the requirement

PI (%)

≤ 65

19.74

− 45.26

0.00

− 47.95

− 42.57

SG

> 2.5

2.78

0.28

0.00

0.18

0.37

The mean SG of 2.78 is not significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 2.5 (p value > 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement

Activity

≥ 0.3

1.71

1.41

0.00

0.48

2.35

The mean activity of 1.71 is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 0.3 (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement

MDD (Mg/m3)

≥ 1.70

1.82

0.12

0.02

0.02

0.21

The mean MDD of 1.82 Mg/m3 is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 1.70 Mg/m3 and therefore meets the requirement

UCS (kPa)

≥ 200

365.77

165.77

0.05

− 1.77

333.32

The mean UCS of 365.77 kPa is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 200 kPa and therefore meets the requirement

HC (cm/s)

≤ 1.0E−06

2.62E−06

1.62E−06

0.492

− 3.57E−06

6.81E−06

The mean hydraulic conductivity of 2.62E−06 cm/s is not significantly different from the standard value of ≤ 1.00E−06 cm/s and hence meet the requirement

5.2 Grading and textural classification of the expansive and lateritic soils

Grain size distribution is a vital component in the assessment of soil liner materials. Tables 3 and 4 show the grading, plasticity characteristics, strength and hydraulic properties of the expansive and lateritic soils, respectively. The sand content varies between 1 and 48%, silt content between 7 and 70% and the clay size content ranges from 0 to 92% for the expansive soils. For the lateritic soils, the sand content varies between 6 and 77%, silt content between 3 and 51% and clay size content from 1 to 66%. Grading analysis of the shrinkable marine clay and lateritic soil from Peninsular Malaysia was within the ranges reported above. Low clay size contents of 25.0% and 25.7% have been reported for some Egyptian and Algerian expansive soils, respectively [136, 137]. Also, very low clay contents of 1.2% and 3.4% were reported for Indian and Ethiopian lateritic soils, respectively [146, 154]. The expansive soils generally classify as clay, sandy-clay, silty-clay, clay-loam, silt-loam, and silty-clay-loam, on the textural classification chart (Fig. 3), while the lateritic soils are classified as clay, clay-loam, silt-loam, and sandy-clay-loam (Fig. 4).
Fig. 3

Textural classification of expansive soils in literature and shrinkable marine clay in the current study.

(Literature data sources: [8, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 141])

Fig. 4

Textural classification of lateritic soils in literature and the current study.

(Literature data sources: [25, 99, 142, 143, 144, 145, 147, 148, 158, 159])

Approximately 38% of the expansive soils had sand size contents > 20%. On the other hand, almost 91% of the lateritic soils had sand size contents > 20%, except those from Ethiopia and the USA. Hence, most of the lateritic soils are suitable for liner construction since they contain a significant quantity of sand, which would offer substantial protection from volumetric shrinkage and provide sufficient strength. It was also observed that all of the expansive soils had clay contents > 12%, except for a single sample from Cameroon. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean clay content of 50.56% for the expansive soils is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 10% (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement. Similarly, approximately 86% of the lateritic soils had clay contents > 12%, except for soils from Ethiopia and India, which were lower. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean clay content of 29.27% for the lateritic soils is significantly higher than the standard value of 10% (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement. Therefore, both residual soil types fulfilled the recommendations of [62], who proposed a minimum clay content of 10% for soil liners. The fines contents of the expansive soils were greater than 32%, and these values fall within the recommended ≥ 30% fines content proposed by [68] for liner materials. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean fines content of 80.59% for the expansive soils is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 30% (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement. Similarly, 61% of the lateritic soils had fines content greater than 32%. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean fines content of 38.12% for the lateritic soils is higher than the requirement of ≥ 30% (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement.

Hence, both residual soil types met the requirement proposed by [68]. The utilization of fine soils as hydraulic barriers was recommended by [165] due to their high specific surface area. They further indicated that, as soil texture becomes finer, leachate migration reduces. Also, [166] proposed that soil liners should contain not less than 20% fines content to achieve a hydraulic conductivity of 1 × 10−7 cm/s or less. In conclusion, the majority of both expansive and lateritic soils met the requirements mentioned above for particle size distribution.

5.3 Specific gravity of the expansive and lateritic soils

The specific gravities of the expansive soils were found to range from 1.94 to 2.79 in the data collected, while those of the lateritic soils ranged between 2.40 and 3.27. It was found that the specific gravities of the expansive soils from Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya are less than the 2.5 minimum recommended by the [75]. Hence, 59% of the expansive soils met the required recommendation of specific gravity for liner materials. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean specific gravity of 2.53 for the expansive soils is not significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 2.5 (p value > 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement. Similarly, 95% of the lateritic soils met the 2.5 minimum recommended value of specific gravity for liner materials recommended by the [75], except for a soil from India which had a value that was slightly below that recommended. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean specific gravity of 2.78 for the lateritic soils is not significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 2.5 (p value > 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement. Specific gravity values of 2.33 and 2.64 were recorded for the shrinkable marine clay and lateritic soils from Peninsular Malaysia, respectively, which both fall within the range reported in literature.

5.4 Plasticity and colloidal activity of the expansive and lateritic soils

The liquid limits of the expansive soils varied and ranged between 35 and 170%; the plasticity index ranged from 14 to 120%. The expansive soils all plotted above the A-line (Fig. 5) and were classified as clay of low to very high plasticity (CL–CH) based on the Unified Soil Classification System (USCS). Similarly, the liquid limits of the lateritic soils ranged between 21 and 75%, and the plasticity index ranged from 6 to 36%. The lateritic soils plotted above and below the A-line (Fig. 6) and classified as inorganic clay of low to very high plasticity (CL–CH) and inorganic silt of low to high plasticity (ML–MH) based on the Unified Soil Classification System. It was observed that the study soils from Peninsular Malaysia also fall within the range of those reported in the literature. [60] recommended a liquid limit of ≥ 30% and a plasticity index of ≥ 10% for soils to be utilized in liner applications. The minimum value of the PI is because below 10% it would be highly unlikely to achieve the required low hydraulic conductivity. From Tables 3 and 4, it can be seen that the plasticity index of the expansive soils all satisfies the requirement proposed by [60]. Likewise, based on the statistical analysis, significant differences exist between the mean PI of the expansive soils and the standard requirement of 10 ≤ LL ≤ 65 because p values are < 0.05. The PI, however, falls within the limits and therefore meets the requirement. Similarly, 86% of lateritic soils also met the requirements, the exceptions being soils from Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Niger, which had values lower than that recommended. Based on the statistical analysis, significant differences exist between the mean PI of the lateritic soils and the standard requirement of 10 ≤ LL ≤ 65 because p values are < 0.05. The PI, however, falls within the limits and therefore meets the requirement. [62, 66, 67] recommended that soil liners should have liquid limits ≤ 90%. From the data sets, it can be observed that 73% of the expansive soils satisfied the above recommended liquid limit for use as a soil liner, while 27% had values slightly higher than those recommended. Based on the statistical analysis, significant differences exist between the mean LL of the expansive soils and the standard requirement of 30 ≤ LL ≤ 90 because p values are < 0.05. The LL, however, falls within the limits and therefore meets the requirement. Conversely, all of the lateritic soils satisfied the recommended liquid limit for use as a soil liner. Based on the statistical analysis, significant differences exist between the mean LL of the lateritic soils and the standard requirement of 30 ≤ LL ≤ 90 because p values are < 0.05. The LL, however, falls within the limits and therefore meets the requirement.
Fig. 5

Plasticity classification of the expansive soils in literature and shrinkable marine clay in the current study.

(Literature data sources: [123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 139])

Fig. 6

Plasticity classification of the lateritic soils in literature and the current study.

(Literature data sources: [25, 99, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163])

Kayadelen [74] indicated that soils which are classified as low plasticity clay (CL) and high plasticity clay (CH), based on the Unified Soil Classification System, are most suitable for the construction of hydraulic barriers. Hence both soil types could be used for soil liner applications. Moreover, [12] stated that soils that lie above the A-line are suitable or marginal for use as hydraulic barriers and those below the A-line are unsuitable. Hence, all of the expansive soils tested are suitable as liners. In addition, greater proportions of the lateritic soils lie above the A-line and are, therefore, suitable for liner applications. According to [139], expansive soils generally classify as A-7-5 and A-7-6 with group index values varying from 13 to 89 (AASHTO). From the data collected, the expansive soils classify as A-7-5 and A-7-6 and with the lowest group index value being 13. The lateritic soils, on the other hand, classify as the A-2-4, A-2-5, A-2-6 and A-2-7 groups, according to the AASHTO classification.

The activity of the expansive soils (Table 3) was found to range from 0.40 to 1.98. Likewise, the activity of the lateritic soils (Table 4) ranged between 0.2 and 7.2, thus indicating that both soils have low to high expansion potential based on the [167] criteria. Activity values of 1.13 and 1.08 were recorded for the shrinkable marine clay and lateritic soils from Peninsular Malaysia, respectively. Taha and Kabir [168] indicated that soils with higher activity are likely to consist of finer particles, have a larger specific surface area, and thicker electrical double layers. As a result, [76] noted that permeability generally decreases with increasing activity. However, [169] noted that soils with high activity are more easily affected by contaminants if utilized in containment facilities. [60, 76] recommended that soils with an activity ≥ 0.3 are suitable for liner construction and can achieve a permeability of the order 10−7 cm/s or less. Hence, the expansive soils all passed the required recommendation for use as liner materials based on their activity. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean activity of 0.96 for the expansive soils is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 0.3 (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement. On the other hand, approximately 90% of the lateritic soils passed the required recommendation for use as liner materials based on their activity, except for soils from the USA and Brazil. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean activity of 1.71 for the lateritic soils is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 0.3 (p value < 0.05) and therefore meets the requirement.

5.5 Strength properties of the expansive and lateritic soils

The strength properties of both residual soil types were evaluated, based on their compaction characteristics and unconfined compressive strength. The Maximum Dry Densities (MDD) and corresponding Optimum Moisture Contents (OMC) of the expansive soils ranged from 1.10 to 1.82 Mg/m3 and 15.1 to 32.7%, respectively. The correlation between the MDD and OMC for the expansive soil (Fig. 7) shows MDD = 2.1307 − 0.027OMC, with a coefficient of correlation of 0.62. The MDD and OMC of the lateritic soils ranged between 1.3 and 2.2 Mg/m3 and 6.1 and 34.0%, respectively. The correlation between the MDD and OMC for the lateritic soils (Fig. 8) shows MDD = 2.287 − 0.0268OMC and with a coefficient of correlation of 0.58. The soils studied from Peninsular Malaysia also recorded values within the above ranges. From the study, it was found that 75% of the expansive soils failed to meet the required MDD ≥ 1.70 Mg/m3 limit proposed by [65] for liner materials. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean MDD of 1.49 Mg/m3 for the expansive soils is significantly lower than the standard value of ≥ 1.70 Mg/m3 and therefore fails to meet the requirement. On the other hand, 68% of the lateritic soils met the requirement. Likewise, based on the statistical analysis, the mean MDD of 1.82 Mg/m3 for the lateritic soils is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 1.70 Mg/m3 and therefore meets the requirement.
Fig. 7

The relationship between MDD and OMC of expansive soils in literature and shrinkable marine clay in the current study.

(Literature data sources: [8, 123, 124, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 141])

Fig. 8

The relationship between MDD and OMC of lateritic soils in literature and the current study.

(Literature data sources: [25, 99, 142, 143, 144, 146, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163])

The unconfined compressive strength (UCS) of the expansive soils ranged between 120 and 312 kPa, while that of the lateritic soils ranged between 111 and 700 kPa. From the study, it was found that expansive soils from Ghana, Algeria, and India failed to meet the minimum requirement of UCS ≥ 200 kPa recommended for liner materials by [68]. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean UCS of 188.45 kPa for the expansive soils is not significantly different from the standard value of ≥ 200 kPa; however, it is less than the standard and therefore fails to meet the requirement. However, only the lateritic soil from India failed to meet the UCS requirement. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean UCS of 365.77 kPa for the lateritic soils is significantly higher than the standard value of ≥ 200 kPa and therefore meets the requirement. Both soils studied from Peninsular Malaysia met the required specification for UCS for liner materials.

5.6 Hydraulic conductivity of the expansive and lateritic soils

Permeability is a key parameter for the selection of soils for use in liner applications. [170] stated that permeability decreases with increasing compactive effort because increasing compactive effort eliminates large pores. Permeability also changes with changing moisture content during molding. Soils compacted dry of optimum moisture content tend to have relatively high permeabilities, whereas soils compacted wet of optimum moisture content tend to have lower permeabilities. Increasing moisture content usually results in an increased capacity to break down clay aggregates and to eliminate inter-aggregate pores [171, 172, 173].

The permeability of the expansive soils ranged from the order of 10−7–10−9 cm/s, whereas the permeability of the lateritic soils ranged between the order of 10−5 cm/s and 10−8 cm/s. Likewise, the studied lateritic residual soil and shrinkable marine clay from Peninsular Malaysia also recorded values within the above ranges. The permeability of all expansive soils satisfied the requirement of a maximum acceptable limit of the order 10−7 cm/s or less [60, 75, 80, 174] and the order 10−6 cm/s [77, 78]. Based on the statistical analysis, the mean hydraulic conductivity of 7.89E−08 cm/s for the expansive soils is significantly lower than the standard value of ≤ 1.00E−06 cm/s and hence meets the requirement. Similarly, most of the lateritic soils satisfied the permeability requirement, except for soil from India which was slightly higher than the recommended value. Likewise, based on the statistical analysis, the mean hydraulic conductivity of 2.62E−06 cm/s for the lateritic soils is not significantly different from the standard value of ≤ 1.00E−06 cm/s and hence meet the requirement. In conclusion, both soils met the required limits for saturated hydraulic conductivity, which is the most critical factor for liner material assessment.

6 Summary and conclusions

This paper reviewed published literature on the recent developments in the application of residual soils as compacted soil liners in barrier systems. The study was motivated by the frequent utilization of residual soils for liner applications. Various descriptive statistics were employed to better assess the individual criteria of using both residual soil types as compacted soil liners. From the review, the following conclusions are made:
  • From the grading characteristics, the expansive soils classify as clay, sandy-clay, clay-loam, silt-loam, and silty-clay loam, whereas the lateritic soils classify as clay, clay-loam, silt-loam, and sandy-clay loam. Generally, the expansive and lateritic soils had clay contents greater than the recommended ≥ 10%. Likewise, the fines content of all the studied expansive soils fall within the recommended ≥ 30%, while about 61% of the studied lateritic soils had fines content greater than the recommended.

  • The liquid limits of the expansive soils vary but ranged between 35 and 170% and the plasticity index varied between 14 and 120%. The liquid limits of the lateritic soils ranged from 21 to 75%, and the plasticity index ranged between 6 and 36%. The plasticity index of the expansive soils all satisfies the minimum requirement for liner utilization. Similarly, 86% of lateritic soils also met the requirements, with the exceptions being soils from Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Niger, which had values lower than that recommended. Based on the AASHTO classification system, the expansive soils classify as A-7-5 and A-7-6, they also classify as CL–CH on the unified soil classification system. The lateritic soils, on the other hand, classify as A-2-4, A-2-5, A-2-6, and A-2-7 based on the AASHTO classification system and as CL–CH and ML–MH based on the unified soil classification system.

  • The MDD and OMC of the expansive soils ranged from 1.10 to 1.82 Mg/m3 and 15.1 to 32.7%, respectively. Similarly, the MDD and OMC of the lateritic soil ranged between 1.3 and 2.2 Mg/m3 and 6 and 34%, respectively. The correlation between the MDD and OMC of the expansive soil showed \({\text{MDD}} = 2.1307 - 0.027{\text{OMC}}\), while that of the lateritic soil showed \({\text{MDD}} = 2.287 - 0.0268{\text{MC}}\). From the study, it was found that 75% of the expansive soils failed to meet the required MDD specification for liner materials. On the other hand, 68% of the lateritic soils met the requirement. The UCS of the expansive soils ranged between 120 and 312 kPa, while that of the lateritic soils ranged between 111 and 700 kPa. From the analysis, it was found that expansive soils from Ghana, Algeria, and India failed to meet the minimum UCS requirement for liner utilization. Likewise, only the lateritic soil from India also failed.

  • The permeability of the expansive soils was found to be of the order 10−7–10−11 cm/s, whereas those of the lateritic soils, were of the order 10−5–10−8 cm/s. The studied lateritic residual soil and shrinkable marine clay from Peninsular Malaysia also recorded values within the above ranges. The permeability of all expansive soils satisfied the requirement of a maximum acceptable limit of the order 10−6 cm/s or less. Similarly, most of the lateritic soils satisfied the permeability requirement, except for soil from India which was slightly higher.

As a general conclusion, literature showed that the majority of the studied residual soils with a few exceptions as well as the lateritic residual soil and shrinkable marine clay from Peninsular Malaysia generally possess engineering properties that make them suitable for use as liner materials in various barrier systems. However, the minority with unsuitable engineering properties can be amended by blending with suitable natural, waste, and synthetic materials to achieve the required engineering properties. Finally, we remark that environmental safety and health protection must be prioritized and warranted: hence, to this aim, any residual soil to be utilized for barrier application must undergo a thorough and careful evaluation considering the specific circumstances of the landfill site (i.e., landfill waste type and contaminant concentrations, hydrogeological and climatic conditions, etc.).

7 Future research works

It should be pointed out that, though the review of residual soils as compacted soil liners (CSL) is relatively comprehensive in this manuscript, not all the aspects regarding soil liners are discussed. Consistent with this view, future research directions on residual soils as CSL may include, evaluating and analyzing other engineering properties such as volumetric shrinkage strain, diffusion coefficient, and retention capacity that govern the suitability of geomaterials for bottom liner application, so as to better recommend the usability of residual soils as effective liner materials. Likewise, since chemical compatibility of a liner material with the percolating leachate play a vital role in assessing the long-term performance of liner materials; hence, future studies on the compatibility behavior of residual soils and leachate are necessary to better comprehend the long-term performance of the soils when utilized for liner application. Furthermore, future studies are needed to elucidate cracking behavior (freezing–thawing behavior or wet-dry-cycles) of the residual soils, especially the expansive soil when utilized for liner application. More research is needed to understand further the potential benefits and limitations as well as cost analyses of using both residual soil types as hydraulic barriers.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia for providing the financial support under the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS/1/2017/TK01/MUSM/03/1) “Movement of leachate through compacted clay liners using local deposits: Fundamental mechanism and Suitability.” The authors also express sincere thanks to the Abunde Sustainable Engineering Group for its valuable advice. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions which led to the improvement of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Civil Engineering Discipline, School of EngineeringMonash University MalaysiaBandar SunwayMalaysia
  2. 2.Department of Geological EngineeringKwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana

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