Acta Geotechnica

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 67–79 | Cite as

An approach to characterisation of multi-scale pore geometry and correlation with moisture storage and transport coefficients in cement-stabilised soils

  • Matthew R. HallEmail author
  • Sacha J. Mooney
  • Craig Sturrock
  • Paolo Matelloni
  • Sean P. Rigby
Research Paper


An experimental approach to the characterisation of the complex, multi-scale pore geometry in cement-stabilised soils is presented, in which the pore size distribution inclusively spans at least six orders of magnitude from ~3 nm up to >3 mm. These most likely result from the combined effects of granular inter-particle packing, clay/cement clothing and bridging effects, cement hydration and clay/cement pozzolanic reactions, and alteration of larger pore geometries as a result of solid mass mobilisation and transport following capillary wetting/drying regimes. Experimental data are presented and were obtained through a combination of X-ray computed tomography, mercury intrusion porosimetry and N2 physisorption supported by ‘wet mode’ environmental scanning electron microscopy. Data strongly suggest that macropore/capillary pore size distribution, mean pore size, sorptivity and transport coefficients are a function of particle size distribution (when compaction energy is constant). Mesopore size distribution, which dominates hygric sorption/desorption behaviour, occurs within the clay/cement matrix and also appears to be strongly influenced by the particle size distribution of the granular phase. All other factors being equal, manipulation of granular particle size distribution can be used to engineer the hygric (vapour) and capillary (liquid) potentials and also the fluid transport coefficients of these materials.


Cement-stabilised soils Moisture transport Pore geometry Porous media Water vapour storage 





Pressure (Pa)


Partial vapour pressure (Pa)


Gas constant for water vapour (J/kg K)


Relative humidity (where RH = φ·100)


Temperature (K)


Dry bulb temperature (K)


Sorptivity (mm/min0.5)


Relative moisture content (kg/kg)


Fluid contact angle (°)


Surface tension (Nm)


Capillary potential, that is, ‘suction’ pressure (Pa)


Relative moisture content (dry), that is, zero moisture content


Relative moisture content (residual), that is, when equilibrated at φ → 1


Relative humidity equal to p/p 0 (0 ≤ φ ≤ 1)


Density (kg/m3)



The authors wish to acknowledge the technical support and assistance of Nikki Weston and Keith Dinsdale at the University of Nottingham.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew R. Hall
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sacha J. Mooney
    • 2
  • Craig Sturrock
    • 2
  • Paolo Matelloni
    • 3
  • Sean P. Rigby
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Materials, Mechanics and Structures, Faculty of Engineering, Nottingham Centre for GeomechanicsUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.School of Biosciences, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Advanced Materials Research Group, Division of Materials, Mechanics and Structures, Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  4. 4.Division of Process and Environment, Faculty of EngineeringUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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