Physical and geotechnical properties of clay phyllites
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An experimental programme is presented with the aim of characterising –from physical, microstructural and geotechnical perspectives– the main properties of compacted clay phyllites. These clay phyllites are widely used as waterproofing material for roofs in the Alpujarras (Andalusia, Spain), as sealing liners in irrigation ponds, and as core material of small earthen zoned dams. An exhaustive physical-characterisation programme on the powder fraction has been followed using X-ray fluorescence (XRF), X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), chemical analysis by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), thermal analysis, particle-size distribution analysis, consistency limits, and density of solid particles. From a microstructural standpoint, mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) tests, as well as nitrogen-adsorption tests, were carried out to characterise the pore network and surface area of the material in both natural and compacted states. The geotechnical characterisation programme on the compacted material was focused on the water-permeability and water-retention properties, the volume change on soaking (swelling or collapse), the compressibility on loading, the shearstrength properties, and the mechanical-penetration properties. In this way, an important physical and hydro-mechanical data base is provided, which could help in evaluating the suitability for using this material in a wide range of earthen constructions (liners, road subgrades, embankments, core material in zoned dams). It has been found that the material contains illite, chlorite and quartz as the main components, and feldspar, iron oxide and interstratified illite–smectite as minor ones. Despite the presence of active clay minerals, the compacted material did not display an important swelling on soaking at low stresses, as a consequence of its low specific surface and low water-retention ability. The material exhibited good compaction properties and, consequently, low water permeability plus a stiff response on loading. Nevertheless, despite the low porosity attained on the dry-side compaction, the material underwent some collapse on soaking at stresses greater than 100 kPa.
CitationGarzón, E.; Sánchez-Soto, P.J.; Romero, E. Physical and geotechnical properties of clay phyllites. "Applied clay science", 2010, vol. 48, p. 307-318.