Analysis of massive sulphate attack to cement-treated compacted soils
Document typeConference report
PublisherE3S Web of Conferences
Rights accessOpen Access
The paper describes the heave experienced by two embankments providing access to a bridge located in a high-speed railway line. The compacted soil, a mixture of a low plasticity clay, sand and gravel, had a significant sulphate content (2 – 2.5%). The embankments received a reinforcing treatment by mixing the soil with cement in the proximity of the bridge abutments. In addition, a grid of grouting columns provided more stiffness to the embankments. The embankments experienced a fast heaving rate (around 4 mm/month) in the areas improved by cement mixing. Precision extensometers indicated that heave concentrated in the upper 6 – 8 m of the embankments. The sulphate content reduced sharply to 0.25% at increasing depth. No heave was detected in these deeper zones. The swelling was found to be associated with the development of thaumasite and ettringite minerals. The presence of clay, cement and sulphates in the compacted soils and the infiltration of water from rainfall events are ideal conditions for the growth of the mentioned minerals. Long-term tests performed on compacted samples provided a good evidence of the phenomena developing in situ. A chemical modelling of the mineral changes at the soil-cement interface provided an additional insight into the development of swelling, which could last for a long time (several years). Accordingly, it was decided to underpin the railway track and to excavate the upper active volume of the embankments. This solution went in parallel with train service, which was never interrupted.
CitationRamon, A.; Alonso, E. Analysis of massive sulphate attack to cement-treated compacted soils. A: European Conference on Unsaturated Soils. "4th European Conference on Unsaturated Soils (E-UNSAT 2020)". E3S Web of Conferences, 2020, p. 1-6. ISBN 2267-1242. DOI 10.1051/e3sconf/202019501009.