• Experimental Study Of Adsorbed Cation Effects On The Frost Susceptibility Of Natural Soils

      Darrow, Margaret Marie; Huang, Scott; Shur, Yuri (2007)
      Frost heaving is ubiquitous throughout cold regions, causing damage to building foundations, roads, airfields, railways, utilities, and pipelines. Out of the voluminous body of research conducted over the last 80 years, few studies investigated the mineral surface effects on frost heaving. These previous studies were conducted nearly 50 years ago with rudimentary equipment and on homogeneous and artificial soils that have limited applicability to actual field conditions. The purpose of the research presented here is to investigate the adsorbed cation effects on the frost susceptibility of natural soils through experimental testing. A comprehensive suite of laboratory experiments was conducted on five natural heterogeneous soils, including the preparation of divalent and monovalent cation-treated samples. Experimental testing included measurements of engineering index properties, chemical properties, clay content and mineralogy, soil-moisture characteristic curves, unfrozen water content, zeta potential, and frost heave testing. Frost heave tests were conducted using a state-of-the-art laboratory system that demonstrates high repeatability. Soil-moisture characteristic---soil freezing characteristic (SMC-SFC) relations were developed for the five natural soils over an unprecedented range of measurements and using a new approach, which can be related to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation. The SMC-SFC relations yield a new variable, eta, which describes the water retention properties of soil at increasing matric potentials and decreasing temperatures. The five untreated soils demonstrated significantly different frost heave ratios, ranging from 0.7 percent to 49.2 percent. Statistical analysis indicates that the frost susceptibility of the five untreated soils is most dependent on adsorbed cations, eta, amount of microaggregates smaller than 2 mum, and clay content. For the entire body of untreated and cation-treated samples, statistical analysis indicates that the frost susceptibility is most dependent on adsorbed cations, unfrozen water content, and amount of smectite, kaolinite, and chlorite present in the soil. The results from each cation treatment indicate that the frost susceptibility of (1) Ca2+-saturated soil is most dependent on zeta potential and unfrozen water content; (2) Mg2+-saturated soil is most dependent on zeta potential and amount of chlorite; and (3) Na +-saturated soil is most dependent on zeta potential, unfrozen water content, and amount of chlorite.