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Consequences on water retention properties of double-porosity features in a compacted silt

Abstract

The paper deals with an experimental investigation aimed at studying microstructural features and their consequences on water retention properties of statically compacted unsaturated silt. The evolution of the microstructure of the aggregate fabric induced by compaction is investigated by studying the pore size distribution changes under different initial conditions (void ratio and water content). The material used is low plasticity silt from Jossigny near Paris, France. A series of mercury intrusion porosimetry tests (MIP) were performed at different void ratios and water contents to provide microstructural information. The arrangement of aggregation/particles and pore network was also investigated with environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM). The MIP data were used to determine the water retention curve on drying for the specific pore network configuration induced on compaction. The MIP data were used to formulate and calibrate a multimodal water retention model for a specific pore network configuration, which is obtained by linear superposition of subcurves of a modified van Genuchten type. The study is then complemented with controlled suction oedometer tests on compacted samples to obtain the water retention properties of the material at two different void ratios. Finally, we compare the water retention properties obtained by the simulated progression of the different pore network configurations induced on the hydraulic path with the water retention properties under suction-controlled conditions. Good agreement between the two methods for the drying path is reached.

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Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge Michael Plötze and Gabriele Peschke of Institute of Geotechnical Engineering at ETHZ for their technical support in performing the MIP and ESEM tests, respectively.

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Correspondence to Francesca Casini.

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Casini, F., Vaunat, J., Romero, E. et al. Consequences on water retention properties of double-porosity features in a compacted silt. Acta Geotech. 7, 139–150 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11440-012-0159-6

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Keywords

  • Compacted soil
  • Pore network model
  • Pore size distribution
  • Water retention curve