Open Access Research Article

Investigation of the Evolution of Clay Microstructure under Different Loading Paths and Impact on Constitutive Modelling

Federica Cotecchia1, Simona Guglielmi1* and Antonio Gens2

1Department of Civil, Environmental, Land, Building Engineering and Chemistry, Polytechnic University of Bari, Italy

2Departamento de Ingeniería del Terreno, Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, Spain

Corresponding Author

Received Date: March 23, 2020;  Published Date: April 03, 2020


Part of a research programme concerning the investigation of the evolution of clay microstructure under different loading paths is presented. The material is a stiff over consolidated natural clay, strongly bonded by diagenetic processes. Its one-dimensional compression and consequential microstructural changes are compared with those of the same clay when reconstituted. The microstructural changes are evaluated using scanning electron microscopy. The results of oedometer tests are discussed, some carried out in a purpose-built constant-rate-of- strain oedometer which enables the behaviour of the natural clay to be studied well beyond yield. The variations in swelling index, stiffness and coefficients of consolidation and permeability are compared pre- and post-yield for the two clays. Both clays are found to have significantly different states and fabrics at all stages of compression. Post-yield the structural changes in the natural clay are initially a destruction of the original fabric, and then a rearrangement of the clay particles into a systematic packing of honeycomb and perfectly oriented fabrics. The same fabric architecture is recognized at medium magnification in the reconstituted clay compressed to high pressures. Despite the different states and structures of the two clays, the trends of compression and consolidation behaviour are found to be similar.

Keywords: Clays; Clay microstructure; Micro to macro; Microscopy; SEM

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