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ORI GI NAL PAPER

Evaluation of the Permeability Behaviour of Sand-Bentonite


Mixtures Through Laboratory Tests
K. K. Tripathi

B. V. S. Viswanadham
Received: 1 June 2012 / Accepted: 27 July 2012 / Published online: 10 August 2012
Indian Geotechnical Society 2012
Abstract In recent years, when suitable impervious soils
are not available for containing the waste, barriers con-
structed using sand-bentonite mixtures are being frequently
adopted to contain the waste. This paper presents the
laboratory evaluation of permeability of sand-bentonite
mixtures through falling head tests performed with rigid
wall permeameter and oedometer on different categories of
sand-bentonite mixtures. Five different categories of sand-
bentonite mixtures were formulated by varying bentonite
content in increments of 5 % from 5 to 25 % by dry
weight. Atterberg limits and compaction characteristics of
sand-bentonite mixtures were evaluated. With an increase
in bentonite content, the unconned compressive strength
of the sand-bentonite mixture was found to increase line-
arly and a sharp decrease in permeability was registered up
to a bentonite content of 15 % and beyond this the decrease
in the permeability was marginal. Permeability tests were
carried out with and without prior saturation of the sam-
ples. It was found that permeability behavior of sand-
bentonite mixtures was affected by the initial saturation
process and type of permeability testing method.
Keywords Bentonite Sand-bentonite mixtures
Barriers Waste containment systems Permeability
Laboratory tests Rigid-wall permeameter
Introduction
In the absence of natural impervious soils, compacted sand-
bentonite mixtures are frequently used for constructing
barriers in waste disposal projects [1, 2]. Typical other
applications of compacted sand-bentonite mixtures are in:
(i) waster water lagoons, and (ii) mounded oil and gas
storage tanks [3, 4]. In order to design an economical sand-
bentonite barrier, it is necessary to perform several per-
meability tests to nd a suitable sand-bentonite mixture
which has minimum bentonite content and which has
permeability less than or equal to 1 9 10
-9
m/s. In case of
sand-bentonite mixture, permeability varies with perme-
ation time before reaching to nal steady state value. The
variation in hydraulic conductivity with permeation time
can be due to change in degree of saturation, hydration
of bentonite, chemical instability, bacterial growth etc.
Darcys law has been frequently used in all these transient
conditions to calculate the permeability of sand-bentonite
mixture [1, 2, 5, 6]. Also, different types of permeameters
with different sizes of samples have been used for mea-
suring the permeability. For water as the permeant, per-
meability behavior of sand-bentonite mixture tested by
using different permeameters is explained below.
In the exible wall permeameter, permeability tests are
conducted after saturation of the samples. Samples are
saturated by applying back pressure, to achieve a degree of
saturation close to 100 %. During the permeability test,
bentonite gradually absorbs water and swells or hydrates in
the voids of sand-bentonite mixture. Hence, permeability
gradually decreases with permeation time till it reaches
steady state condition, after which no appreciable change
in permeability occurs. Final value of permeability corre-
sponds to that of steady state condition. Haug and Wong
[6] and Abichou et al. [7] have conducted permeability
K. K. Tripathi
Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering,
Shivajinagar, Pune 411005, India
e-mail: kamalesht@gmail.com
B. V. S. Viswanadham (&)
Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology
Bombay, Powai, Mumbai 400076, India
e-mail: viswam@civil.iitb.ac.in
1 3
Indian Geotech J (OctoberDecember 2012) 42(4):267277
DOI 10.1007/s40098-012-0020-8
tests on exible wall permeameter, for a minimum duration
of 28 and 21 days respectively in order to get nal per-
meability. Chapuis [1] has reported that in exible wall
permeameter, steady state condition is reached in 27 days
if hydraulic conductivity is in the range of 1 9 10
-9
to
1 9 10
-10
m/s. Few investigators [2, 5] have conducted
permeability tests on rigid wall permeameter and oedom-
eter, after saturating the sample using back pressure satu-
ration facility. In these permeameters, samples were
subjected to axial stress, which prevented side wall leakage
during saturation of the sample. For saturating the samples
before conducting permeability tests, various authors have
used different methods of saturation such as application of
back pressure, by application of vacuum, or by upward
ow of permeant or combinations of these methods as
shown in Table 1. ASTM D 5084 [8] recommends the use
of a exible wall permeameter for determining the
hydraulic conductivity of a soil with the following key
specications: (i) Maximum hydraulic gradient should not
exceed 30, (ii) At no time, the hydraulic gradient cannot be
less than 0.75 times the initial or maximum hydraulic
gradient, and (iii) saturation of sample has to be achieved
by applying back pressure and by using de-aired water.
Rigid wall permeameter and oedometer are not gener-
ally provided with back pressure saturation facility, as it
may create potential leakage path between the sample and
side walls [9, 10]. In these permeameters, permeability
tests are generally conducted without pre-saturation of the
sample. During permeability test, both saturation and
hydration processes happen simultaneously and gradually.
In such case, long term hydraulic conductivity can be
higher than the short term hydraulic conductivity if inu-
ence of increased degree of saturation is more than the
inuence of hydration of bentonite. Hence, in order to be
on safer side, it becomes necessary to conduct long term
permeability test. Chapuis [1] reported that in case of rigid
wall permeameter, 24 weeks or more may be required,
depending upon bentonite content and thickness of the
sample.
From the review of literature, it was found that labora-
tory studies on the permeability of sand-bentonite mixtures
are limited. Inuence of the effect of pre-saturation of
sand-bentonite mixture and varying bentonite contents on
the permeability behaviour of sand-bentonite mixtures was
not clearly understood. Hence, in the present study the
permeability behaviour of sand-bentonite mixtures was
studied in the laboratory through rigid wall and oedometer
test setups with and without pre-saturation.
Materials and Methods
Bentonite used in this study is originated in the Gujarat
state of India. X-ray diffraction spectra (Fig. 1) show that it
is predominantly a montmorillonite with Maghemite,
Hematite, Antase, Calcite and Kaolin traces. Chemical
composition of bentonite (Table 2) as determined by X-ray
uorescence spectroscopy conrms that it is predominantly
Na-montmorillonite. Similar chemical compounds were
observed in the Wyoming bentonite used by Mollins et al.
[11]. The clay content (representing approximately the
percentage of Montmorillonite) in the bentonite was found
to be 86 % as per Mehtylene blue test. Sand is uniformly
graded, ne silica sand; and is classied as SP according to
the Unied Soil Classication System (USCS). The index
properties of sand and bentonite used in this study were
obtained using relevant BIS codes (IS 2720 Part III to Part
V) and these are summarized in Table 3. For liquid limit
and plastic limit tests, bentonite was mixed with distilled
water, forming a thick paste and allowed to hydrate for
about 24 h. For higher bentonite contents, considering the
active nature of bentonite type used in the present study,
hydration duration of 24 h was not adequate. However,
Table 1 Details of
permeability tests on sand-
bentonite mixtures
Not reported
Investigators Permeameter
type
Hydraulic
gradient
Hydration
period
Method of saturation
Kenney et al. [2] Oedometer cell 2050 Back pressure
Haug and Wong [6] Flexible wall \40 24 h By applying vacuum
and back- pressure and
use of de-aired water.
Yang and Barbour [15] Oedometer cell
Gleason et al. [14] Rigid wall 48 h
Kayabali [16] Rigid wall 2025
Santucci de et al. [4] Rigid wall 16 h Upward ow of
pressurized water
Stern and Shackelford [17] Flexible wall 30 Back pressure
Abichou et al. [7] Flexible wall 1416 1 week Back pressure
268 Indian Geotech J (OctoberDecember 2012) 42(4):267277
1 3
in order to maintain uniformity among all bentonite con-
tents, hydration duration of 24 h was adopted.
In the present study, ve categories of sand-bentonite
mixtures were used with bentonite content range from 5 to
25 %, as shown in Table 4. The bentonite content was
determined as the percentage of dry weight of bentonite
with respect to total dry weight of sand-bentonite mixture.
For this purpose, sand and bentonite were placed in the
oven for at least 24 h before weighing and dry mixing.
Liquid limit and plastic limit of the sand bentonite mixtures
were determined using the procedure given in relevant BIS
code (IS 2720 part V). For liquid limit and plastic limit
tests, sand-bentonite mixtures were mixed with distilled
water forming a thick paste and allowed to hydrate for
about 24 h. Compaction characteristics of sand-bentonite
mixtures were determined by conducting reduced, standard
and modied proctor compaction tests. Unconned
compressive strength tests on sand-bentonite mixture
samples moist-compacted at their maximum dry unit
weight and optimum moisture content (standard proctor
compaction) were also presented. Finally, permeability
tests on formulated sand-bentonite mixtures were carried
out with and without pre-saturation using a modied rigid
wall permeameter and oedometer test setups.
Atterberg Limits
Table 4 presents summary of Atterberg limits (liquid limit
and plastic limit) along with specic gravity of sand-
bentonite mixtures. Figure 2 shows the positions of sand-
bentonite mixtures plotted on Casagrandes plasticity chart.
The A-line delineates the boundaries between clays (above
the line) and silt and organic soils (below the line). The
U-line denes the upper limit of correlations between
plasticity index and liquid limit. The results of consistency
limits of the soil should be below the U-line. From the
Fig. 2, it can be seen that results of consistency limits of
Fig. 1 X-ray diffraction spectra for bentonite: Cu-ka radiation
Table 2 Chemical composition of bentonite
Sr. No. Analyte %
1 SiO
2
54.36
2 Al
2
O
3
17.44
3 Fe
2
O
3
10.70
4 MgO 3.79
5 Na
2
O 2.17
6 CaO 1.95
7 TiO
2
0.90
8 P
2
O
5
0.20
9 K
2
O 0.14
10 SO
3
0.053
Loss on ignition
(1,000 C for 1 h)
8.16
Clay content (as per
methylene blue test)
86
Note: Chemical composition determined by X-ray uorescence
spectroscopy; Sample dried at 105 C prior to testing
Table 3 Summary of index properties of sand and bentonite
Sr. No. Property Sand Bentonite
1 Hygroscopic moisture content 0.1 % 9 %
2 Specic gravity 2.67 2.94
3 Size fraction
Coarse sand (24.75 mm, %) 0
Medium sand (0.4252 mm, %) 7
Fine sand (0.0750.425 mm, %) 92
Silt and clay (\0.075 mm, %) 1
4 Effective particle size d
10
(mm) 0.12
5 Coefcient of uniformity, C
u
1.2
6 Coefcient of curvature, C
c
3
7 Atterberg limits
Liquid limit (%) 395
Plastic limit (%) 41.8
Plasticity index (%) 352.8
Not reported/relevant
Table 4 Atterberg limits, specic gravity of sand-bentonite mixtures
Sr. No. Sand-
bentonite
B % LL % PL % Specic
gravity, G
1 M1 5
a
26.64 NP 2.68
2 M2 10 39.67 NP 2.69
3 M3 15 52.24 23.45 2.71
4 M4 20 74.22 23.36 2.716
5 M5 25 94.18 21.48 2.72
B bentonite content; LL liquid limit; PL plastic limit; NP non-plastic
a
100 g of M1 = 5 g dry bentonite ? 95 g dry sand
Indian Geotech J (OctoberDecember 2012) 42(4):267277 269
1 3
the sand-bentonite mixtures used in the present investiga-
tion lie in between A-line and U-line. It can be seen that
sand-bentonite mixtures M3, M4 and M5 can be classied
as CH soils. Sand-bentonite mixtures M1 and M2 are non-
plastic soils.
Compaction Characteristics
The dry sand-bentonite mixture was mixed with approxi-
mately 513 % initial water content and kept in a sealed
plastic bag for about 24 h prior to the compaction test.
The standard Proctor and modied Proctor tests were car-
ried out by following procedures given in BIS: 2720 Part
VII and BIS: 2720 Part VIII respectively. The reduced
Proctor compaction is similar to the standard Proctor
compaction, but 15 blows are applied per layer instead of
25 [12]. The compaction curves for standard, modied and
reduced Proctor compaction for sand-bentonite mixtures
M1M5 are presented in Figs. 3ae. Values of maximum
dry unit weight, c
dmax
, and optimum moisture content
OMC, obtained from standard, modied and reduced
Proctor tests are summarized in Table 4. From the Table 4,
it can be seen that for each compaction effort, the maxi-
mum dry unit weight and optimum moisture content of
different sand-bentonite mixtures varied within a narrow
range. The observed compaction behaviour of sand-ben-
tonite mixtures is found to be in agreement with the results
reported by Kenney et al. [2], Santucci de et al. [4] and
Abichou et al. [7]. From the compaction curves, it can be
observed that for the sand-bentonite mixtures used in this
study, the degree of saturation at the OMC varies from
about 7083 %. Kenney et al. [2], Haug and Wong [6],
Abichou et al. [7] and Chapuis et al. [18] have reported
about the degree of saturation of the sand-bentonite mix-
tures at the OMC in the range of 7090 % (Table 5).
Unconned Compressive Strength Tests
Figure 4 presents the variation of deviatoric stress with
strain for different sand bentonite mixtures. From Fig. 4, it
can be seen that as the bentonite content increases the peak
deviatoric stress or unconned compressive strength q
u
of
the sample increases. The axial strains at which different
sand-bentonite mixture samples have experienced failure
was observed to vary between 2 and 3 %. From Fig. 4, it
can be observed that the q
u
value increases almost linearly,
with an increase in bentonite content of the mixture.
Permeability Tests
Rigid Wall Permeameter
The rigid wall permeameter had a cylindrical mould made
out of brass with about 76.5 mm internal diameter and an
effective sample thickness of 60 mm (Fig. 5). In order to
perform permeability tests on ve sand-bentonite mixtures
simultaneously, a falling head test-setup was custom
designed and developed. The test setup consisted of ve
glass tubes of 1,200 mm length and 10 mm internal
diameter. Beside each glass tube, a graduated scale with an
accuracy of 0.1 mm was xed to record measurements
from time to time. Beside each glass tube, graduated scale
was tted. Each glass tube was connected through a ex-
ible rubber tube with water inlet provision at the top of the
permeameter (Fig. 5). Considering the negligible outow
through the sample, only inow was measured. However,
an adequate care was taken to prevent evaporation losses.
Oedometer
In order to verify results of permeability tests on sand-
bentonite mixtures using a rigid wall permeameter, a
modied oedometer was used. The oedometer was modi-
ed to conduct falling head permeability test. The modi-
cation was carried out to ensure the water tightness and
prevention of swelling of the sample [10]. The modied
oedometer was eventually a rigid wall permeameter with
small thickness of sample and upward ow of water.
Kenney et al. [2] have also conducted falling head tests in
oedometer. The indirect evaluation of the hydraulic con-
ductivity from consolidation test may be unreliable [10].
The oedometer cell has 75 mm diameter internally and a
sample height of 25 mm, as shown in Fig. 6. For
restraining the swelling of sample, loading plate was held
at a constant position with the help of a locking plate.
However, no normal load was applied. Both the perme-
ameters are effectively rigid wall cells and the later one is
modied to conduct falling head permeability tests, as
the indirect evaluation of the hydraulic conductivity
0
20
40
60
80
100
0 20 40 60 80 100
Liquid Limit (%)



P
l
a
s
t
i
c
i
t
y

I
n
d
e
x

(
%
)


M3
M4
M5
CH
CL
Ip=0.73 (LL-20)
A-line
U-line
Ip=0.9 (LL-8)
MH & OH
ML & OL
CL-ML
Fig. 2 Plot showing sand-bentonite mixtures on Casagrandes plas-
ticity chart
270 Indian Geotech J (OctoberDecember 2012) 42(4):267277
1 3
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
Water content (%)
D
r
y

u
n
i
t

w
e
i
g
h
t

(
k
N
/
m
3
)
Modified
Standard
Reduced
Sr=100%
Sr=80% Sr=70%
(a) For M1
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
Water content (%)
D
r
y

u
n
i
t

w
e
i
g
h
t

(
k
N
/
m
3
)
Modified
Standard
Reduced
100%
80%
70%
(b) For M2
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
Water content (%)
D
r
y

u
n
i
t

w
e
i
g
h
t

(
k
N
/
m
3
)
Modified
Standard
Reduced
80%
100%
70%
(c) For M3
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
Water content (%)
D
r
y

u
n
i
t

w
e
i
g
h
t

(
k
N
/
m
3
)
Modified
Standard
Reduced
80%
100%
70%
(d) For M4
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
Water content (%)
D
r
y

u
n
i
t

w
e
i
g
h
t

(
k
N
/
m
3
)
Modified
Standard
Reduced
80%
100%
70%
(e) For M5
Fig. 3 Compaction characteristics of sand-bentonite mixtures
Indian Geotech J (OctoberDecember 2012) 42(4):267277 271
1 3
computations from the coefcient of consolidation values
during loading increments was found to be unreliable [10].
Sample Preparation
Required quantities of dried sand and bentonite were taken
and mixed thoroughly to arrive at desired sand-bentonite
mixtures. Required amount of tap water corresponding to
optimum water content was added and mixed thoroughly.
Wet sand-bentonite mixture was sealed in a polythene bag
and kept in a desiccator to hydrate for about 24 h. The rigid
wall permeameter was coated with thin layer of silicon
grease along its inner sides. Required quantity of hydrated
sand-bentonite mixture was dynamically compacted in the
permeameter in three layers, using a rammer at its
respective optimum moisture content and corresponding
maximum dry unit weight. The achieved densities were
found to be comparable with the target densities. The nal
layer was compacted with the help of a collar arrangement.
Top cap was tightened after placing a lter paper, a per-
forated plate and a rubber gasket. Bottom plate was tight-
ened after placing a ne wire mesh (150 lm). No lter
paper was used at the bottom of sample, as it might be
clogged during saturation process and permeability test.
Then, the soil sample was clamped thoroughly between
two thin rectangular perforated plates.
In case of permeability tests using oedometer, oedom-
eter cell was coated with thin layer of silicon grease.
Required quantity of hydrated sand-bentonite mixture was
dynamically compacted using a rammer, in single layer
with the help of a collar arrangement. To prevent the
migration of sand or bentonite from the sample during
saturation process, special care was taken as the sample
thickness was less. A lter paper and a ne wire mesh were
placed at the top as well as at the bottom of the oedometer
Table 5 Compaction characteristics of sand-bentonite mixtures
Sr.
No.
Sand-
bentonite
Standard
compaction
Modied
compaction
Reduced
compaction
OMC
(%)
c
d max
(kN/m
3
)
OMC
(%)
c
d max
(kN/m
3
)
OMC
(%)
c
d max
(kN/m
3
)
1 M1 17.5 16.8 13.9 18.1 18.2 16.4
2 M2 17 16.9 13.4 18.5 19.5 16.45
3 M3 15 16.94 13.3 18.9 17.6 16.7
4 M4 16 16.9 13.6 18.8 17 16.8
5 M5 16.75 16.85 13.7 18.4 19.5 16.6
OMC optimum moisture content, c
d max
maximum dry unit weight
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Axial Strain (%)
D
e
v
i
a
t
o
r
i
c

s
t
r
e
s
s

(
k
N
/
m
2
)

M1
M2
M3
M4
M5
Fig. 4 Variation of deviatoric stress with axial strain for sand-
bentonite mixtures (UC test)
Rubber tube
76.5 mm
Compacted
sand-bentonite mixture
Air release
valve
Top cap
Rubber gasket
Top perforated plate
Perforated base plate
Wire mesh
60 mm
(L)
h1
h2
Water level at time t1
Water level at time t2
Fig. 5 Schematic diagram of conventional rigid wall permeameter
(not to scale)
h2
h1
Sand-bentonite mixture
75 mm dia., 25 mm height
Porous stone
Porous stone
Loading Pad
Acrylic base plate
Oedometer base
Acrylic pipe
Locking plate
Rubber tube
Inlet glass tube (10 mm diameter)
Spacer
Rubber gasket
Fig. 6 Schematic diagram of modied oedometer setup (not to scale)
272 Indian Geotech J (OctoberDecember 2012) 42(4):267277
1 3
cell. Then, it was clamped between two thin rectangular
perforated plates to make it ready for saturation process.
Saturation
Saturation was achieved by immersing the samples of sand-
bentonite mixture into water in the vacuum desiccator and by
application of vacuum. For granular soils, Chapuis and Bass
[13] suggested that full vacuum should be created in both
permeameter and the water tank so that specimen can be
saturated by creating small hydraulic gradient and migration
of ne particles can be prevented. According to ASTM
D5084, soaking under water is applicable for ne grained
soils, when there are continuous air voids in the specimen and
initial degree of saturationis below70 %. However, Haugand
Wong [6] applied vacuum as well as back pressure saturation
methods, for saturating the sand-bentonite mixture samples
with initial degree of saturation of about 80 %. The vacuum
was applied in the specimen as well as in the cell water to
minimize the resulting effective stress. Keeping these points
in view, following procedure was adopted for enhancement of
degree of saturation of samples of sand-bentonite mixture
(with initial degree of saturation of about 80 %).
The rigid wall permeameter and clamped oedometer cell
were immersed in water in the vacuum desiccator for about
2 weeks. For rigid wall permeameter, no vacuumwas applied
in the rst day, to minimize the washing out of bentonite. In
case of oedometer, submergence period without vacuum was
increased up to 3 days as the sample thickness was less. In the
subsequent days, vacuumof 700 mmHg was applied daily for
about 5 min. Gradually, the duration of application of vac-
uumwas increased from5 to 10 min during the second week.
In this way, total duration of application of vacuumwas about
8090 min in the period of 2 weeks.
Slight turbidity was observed in the initially clean water
of vacuum desiccator at the end of 2 weeks. This indicates
slight washing out of bentonite from samples, which could
be from the top and bottom ends of sample. However,
slight washing out of bentonite would lead to the deter-
mination of appropriate quantity of bentonite on safer side.
Permeability Testing
After saturation of the samples, rigid wall permeameters
were connected to the falling head test set up. In case of
oedometer cell, its clamping was removed and new lter
papers were placed at the top and bottom of oedometer cell.
The bottom lter paper was required to prevent ne par-
ticles migrating into porous stone. Then, oedometer cell
was xed to the oedometer falling head setup.
For both, rigid wall permeameter as well oedometer, dis-
tilled water was lled inthe glass tubes. Water was lled inthe
outlet tank, time to time to compensate for evaporation loss.
The glass tube was relled with distilled water whenever the
hydraulic gradient reaches 10 from 15. This satises the
requirement of ASTM D 5084. Hydraulic conductivity was
calculated using the expression given for falling head test, for
subsequent intervals of time (ASTM D 5084 method- B).
Hydraulic Conductivity Calculation
The hydraulic conductivity was calculated with the help of
the measured water level in the inlet glass tube at different
periods, using the expression given for the conventional
falling head test as follows (ASTM D 5084 method- B,
constant tail water pressure):
k
aL
A t
2
t
1

ln
h
1
h
2

1
where, h
1
is the hydraulic head at time t
1
, h
2
is the
hydraulic head at time t
2
, a is the cross sectional area of
tube, A is the cross sectional area of the soil sample, L is
the length of the soil sample (Figs. 5, 6). Equation (1) is
based on the Darcys law and generally used for the satu-
rated soils. However, in the present study, Eq. (1) has been
used for the unsaturated sand-bentonite samples.
Test Programme
For evaluating hydraulic conductivity of sand-bentonite mix-
tures, four series of permeability tests were conducted as shown
in Table 6. All the samples were moist compacted at their
optimummoisture content andmaximumdryunit weight as per
standard Proctor compaction. Permeability tests of series-A
were carried out in rigid wall permeameter, and permeability
tests of series-B were carried out in oedometer, after saturating
the sample for 2 weeks. Permeability tests of series-C were
carried out in rigid wall permeameter without saturation pro-
cess. Permeabilitytests of series-Dwere carriedout toverifythe
repeatability of test results of series A and series-C. In this
series, permeability tests were conducted only on sand-ben-
tonite mixture M1 by maintaining identical boundary condi-
tions. In the mixture M1, highest variation of hydraulic
conductivity was expected because of low bentonite content.
Permeabilty Behaviour of Sand-Bentonue Mixtures
Variation of Hydraulic Conductivity with Permeation
Time
Figures 7, 8, 9 and 10 show the variation of hydraulic con-
ductivity with permeation time obtained fromdifferent series.
When tests were conducted after the saturation process (Ser-
ies-A and series-B), hydraulic conductivity was observed to
decrease upto1020 days of permeationtime andthereafter it
Indian Geotech J (OctoberDecember 2012) 42(4):267277 273
1 3
was found to remain constant within 30 days. This decrease is
more pronounced in the tests AM1 and BM1, because ben-
tonite has large pore spaces to swell and affect the hydraulic
conductivity. Similar trend was reported by Haug and Wong
[6] and Abichou et al. [7] for the permeability tests conducted
after the saturation process using exible wall permeameters.
Thus, inuence of adopted saturation process can be observed
in the tests of series-A and series-B. In case of series-C
Table 6 Test programme for permeability tests on sand-bentonite mixtures
Test series Sr. No. Sand-bentonite
mixture
Permeameter
type
Test legend w (%) c
d max
(kN/m
3
)
Saturation
period
A 1 M1 Rigid wall AM1 17.5 16.8 2 weeks
2 M2 Rigid wall AM2 17.0 16.89 2 weeks
3 M3 Rigid wall AM3 15 16.94 2 weeks
4 M4 Rigid wall AM4 16 16.89 2 weeks
5 M5 Rigid wall AM5 16.75 16.8 2 weeks
B 6 M1 Oedometer BM1 17.5 16.8 2 weeks
7 M2 Oedometer BM2 17.0 16.89 2 weeks
8 M3 Oedometer BM3 15 16.94 2 weeks
C 9 M1 Rigid wall CM1 17.5 16.8
10 M2 Rigid wall CM2 17.0 16.89
11 M3 Rigid wall CM3 15 16.94
D 12 M1 Rigid wall DAM1 17.5 16.8 2 weeks
13 M1 Rigid wall DCM1 17.5 16.8
Permeability tests carried out without pre-saturation process
1.E-12
1.E-11
1.E-10
1.E-09
1.E-08
1.E-07
100 10 1
Permeation time (days)
H
y
d
r
a
u
l
i
c

c
o
n
d
u
c
t
i
v
i
t
y

(
m
/
s
)AM1
AM2
AM3
(a) Variation of hydraulic conductivity with permeation time
1.E-12
1.E-11
1.E-10
1.E-09
1.E-08
1.E-07
100 10 1
Permeation time (days)
H
y
d
r
a
u
l
i
c

c
o
n
d
u
c
t
i
v
i
t
y

(
m
/
s
)
AM4
AM5
(b) Variation of hydraulic conductivity with permeation time
Fig. 7 Results of permeability tests for series-A
1.0E-12
1.0E-11
1.0E-10
1.0E-09
1.0E-08
1.0E-07
100 10 1
Permeation time (days)
H
y
d
r
a
u
l
i
c

c
o
n
d
u
c
t
i
v
i
t
y

(
m
/
s
)
BM1
BM2
BM3
Fig. 8 Results of permeability tests for series-B
1.E-12
1.E-11
1.E-10
1.E-09
1.E-08
1.E-07
100 10 1
Permeation time (days)
H
y
d
r
a
u
l
i
c

c
o
n
d
u
c
t
i
v
i
t
y

(
m
/
s
)
CM1
CM2
CM3
Fig. 9 Results of permeability tests for series-C
274 Indian Geotech J (OctoberDecember 2012) 42(4):267277
1 3
(Fig. 9), initial hydraulic conductivity is high for a short
duration (within 5 days), and then it remained almost con-
stant. In this series; for samples with higher bentonite content,
scattering of data is more pronounced as compared to series-A
and series-B. Figure 10ab show the results of repeatability
tests (series-D) on sand-bentonite mixture M1. From these
gures, it can be observed that the trends of hydraulic con-
ductivity obtained from series-D are almost similar to trends
obtained from series-A and series-C. Thus, reproducibility of
test results is established from tests of series-D.
Inuence of Bentonite Content on Short Term
Hydraulic Conductivity
In the present study, for most of the permeability tests,
hydraulic conductivity variation with permeation was
observed to stabilize within 30 days. In case of rigid wall
permeameter, steady state of hydraulic conductivity may not
necessarily mean nal state of hydraulic conductivity, how-
ever, 30 days of permeation is generally considered as ade-
quate for obtaining a steady sate. Hence, the hydraulic
conductivity behaviour within 30 days of permeation is con-
sidered and referred herein as the short term hydraulic con-
ductivity k
s
.
Figure 11 shows the variation of short term hydraulic
conductivity for different sand-bentonite mixtures with
bentonite content. As expected, with an increase in the
bentonite content, there is a decrease in the short-term
hydraulic conductivity of sand-bentonite mixtures. The
variation of short term hydraulic conductivity with ben-
tonite content in series-A, is found to have good agreement
with Kenney et al. [2], Gleason et al. [14] and Abichou
et al. [7]. From Fig. 11, it can be seen that, for sand-
bentonite mixtures with 5 % bentonite content, values of
hydraulic conductivity obtained from series-A and series-B
are on higher side, when compared to series-C. The reason
for getting lower values for permeability tests conducted in
series-C could be attributed to inadequate saturation of the
sand-bentonite mixtures. For sand-bentonite mixtures with
higher bentonite contents (10 and 15 %), hydraulic con-
ductivity value obtained from series-A, series-B and series-
C are almost equal. This shows that, for higher bentonite
content, initial saturation process does not signicantly
inuence the short term hydraulic conductivity.
The permeability tests in series-A and series-B, were
conducted after following almost similar procedure of
initial saturation process. However, hydraulic conductivity
values of series-B are higher than corresponding values of
series-A. This could be attributed to (i) increase in the
degree of saturation of sample due to thin sample thickness
and upward ow of water and (ii) slight washing out of
bentonite during saturation process and during permeabil-
ity testing.
The above discussion shows that conducting perme-
ability tests after the initial saturation process can lead to
estimation of higher amount of bentonite content. Between
the rigid wall permeameter, and oedometer, oedometer
provides more safe hydraulic conductivity value.
Results of this research demonstrate the effectiveness of
adopted saturation process for the rigid wall permeameter
and oedometer. Further study can be done with different
1.E-12
1.E-11
1.E-10
1.E-09
1.E-08
1.E-07
100 10 1
Permeation time (days)
H
y
d
r
a
u
l
i
c

c
o
n
d
u
c
t
i
v
i
t
y

(
m
/
s
)DAM1
AM1
(a) Comparison of hydraulic conductivity for tests DAM1 and AM1
1.E-12
1.E-11
1.E-10
1.E-09
1.E-08
1.E-07
100 10 1
Permeation time (days)
H
y
r
d
a
u
l
i
c

c
o
n
d
u
c
t
i
v
i
t
y

(
m
/
s
)DCM1
CM1
(b) Comparison of hydraulic conductivity for tests DCM1 and CM1
Fig. 10 Results of permeability tests for series-D (repeatability)
1.E-12
1.E-11
1.E-10
1.E-09
1.E-08
1.E-07
1.E-06
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
Bentonite content (%)
S
h
o
r
t

t
e
r
m

h
y
d
r
a
u
l
i
c

c
o
n
d
u
c
t
o
i
v
i
t
y
,
k
s

(
m
/
s
)
Series-A
Series-B
Series-C
Fig. 11 Variation of short term hydraulic conductivity with bentonite
content
Indian Geotech J (OctoberDecember 2012) 42(4):267277 275
1 3
grades of sand and bentonite. The study for improving the
saturation process and evaluation of the degree of satura-
tion can be useful. Long term permeability tests and
comparing the results with permeability tests on exible
wall permeameter can be useful.
Conclusions
Based on the analysis and interpretation of experimental
investigations on sand-bentonite mixtures, the following
conclusions can be drawn:
(a) Out of ve evaluated sand-bentonite mixtures (ben-
tonite content 525 %), sand-bentonite mixture with a
bentonite content up to 10 % exhibited non-plastic
characteristics. For sand-bentonite mixtures with ben-
tonite content C15 %, sand-bentonite mixtures exhibit
behaviour of clay of high plasticity (CH type soil).
(b) For all the bentonite contents considered in the present
study, maximum dry unit weight is higher for higher
compactive efforts and optimumwater content is lower
for higher compactive effort (which is typical for ne-
grained soils). Maximum dry unit weight increases up
to 1520 %bentonite content, and then it decreases for
higher bentonite contents for all compactive efforts.
This effect is found to be more prominent with
modied proctor compaction rather standard and
reduced Proctor compaction. Optimum water content
was observed to decrease up to 1520 % bentonite
content and then increase for standard and modied
proctor compaction. This effect is found to be less
prominent with modied proctor compaction. The
observed compaction behaviour is attributed to particle
size and gradation of base material (i.e. type of sand) to
which bentonite is added.
(c) The values of hydraulic conductivity of sand-benton-
ite mixtures were found to depend on the type of
permeability test. Permeability tests conducted with
oedometer test setup yield higher values than those
obtained from rigid-wall permeameter. This could be
attributed to (i) increase in the degree of saturation of
sample due to thin sample thickness and upward ow
of water and (ii) slight washing out of bentonite
during saturation process and during permeability
testing. With an increase in the bentonite content, a
steep decrease in the hydraulic conductivity of sand-
bentonite mixture was observed up to a bentonite
content of 15 % and beyond 15 % bentonite content,
its variation was found to be marginal. For sand-
bentonite mixtures with higher bentonite contents (10
and 15 %), hydraulic conductivity value obtained
from series-A, series-B and series-C are almost equal.
This shows that, for higher bentonite content, initial
saturation process does not signicantly inuence the
short term hydraulic conductivity.
(d) The adoption of pre-saturation of sand-bentonite
blended samples, while conducting permeability tests
using rigid wall permeameter and oedometer test
setups was quite effective. Also, lesser scattering of
hydraulic conductivity values was observed as com-
pared to permeability tests without initial saturation
process. When permeability test was conducted after
completion of the pre-saturation, the values of short-
term hydraulic conductivity values are on the higher
than those obtained for the samples without pre-
saturation process. This can lead to selection of sand-
bentonite mixture (fullling the desired hydraulic
conductivity) having higher bentonite content.
Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank the staff at the
geotechnical engineering laboratory of the Indian Institute of Tech-
nology Bombay for their active involvement and untiring support
during the course of the study. Thanks are also due to reviewers
for their constructive suggestions in improving the quality of the
manuscript.
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