Smectite clay microstructural behaviour on the Atterberg limits transition

Zbik, Marek S., Williams, David J., Song, Yen-Fang and Wang, Chun-Chieh (2015) Smectite clay microstructural behaviour on the Atterberg limits transition. Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 467 89-96. doi:10.1016/j.colsurfa.2014.11.042

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Author Zbik, Marek S.
Williams, David J.
Song, Yen-Fang
Wang, Chun-Chieh
Title Smectite clay microstructural behaviour on the Atterberg limits transition
Journal name Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0927-7757
Publication date 2015-02-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.colsurfa.2014.11.042
Open Access Status
Volume 467
Start page 89
End page 96
Total pages 8
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Particle space arrangement is a very important factor that determines the physico-mechanical properties of soil. Formations of three-dimensional (3D) structured networks within gelled or flocculated suspension may prevent clay particles and aggregates from building dense aggregates and by encapsulate water within the ultrathin and closed void network, lead to poor sludge dewatering. To better understand the water retention behaviour of smectite-rich clays, a microstructural investigation was conducted on Amcol Australian bentonite in aqueous suspension in near the liquid limit (LL) and the plastic limit (PL). The investigation was conducted with the aid of synchrotron-powered transmission X-ray microscope tomography (TXM), with subsequent computer reconstruction. Images from the microscopy studies were statistically analysed using the STatistical IMage ANalysing (STIMAN) system. The study found that clay particles form a spanned framework in which mineral particles, aggregates and water-filled voids assemble as hierarchic structural elements. The size of these structural elements was larger in the water suspension and subsequently became smaller as an effect of water loss in the suspension > liquid and > plastic limit conditions. The clay suspension structure was almost isometric, with a low anisotropy coefficient: Kα – 9%. This parameter increased to Kα – 17% in (LL) and increased further in (PL) conditions to Kα – 35%. Voids within structural elements were much smaller than the water filled inter-flock voids, with their median diameter 140 nm (suspension), 120 nm (LL) and 90 nm (PL). Significant differences in Atterberg limits values were observed between powder freshly mixed with water and a seasoned sample. Therefore, careful consideration of the sample mineral composition, clay content and genesis must be given due to preparation for geotechnical examination.
Keyword Atterberg limits
Clay microstructure
Liquid limit
Plastic limit
X ray microscope
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Civil Engineering Publications
Official 2016 Collection
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Created: Tue, 30 Dec 2014, 00:14:19 EST by System User on behalf of School of Civil Engineering