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Vol. 20 No.

Journal of Wuhan University of Technology- Mater. Sci. Ed.

Jun. 2005

Engineering Properties of Expansive Soil

DAI Shaobin SONGMinghai HUANGJun
(Institute of Architecture Design and Research, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, China)
Abstract: The cornpanents of expansive soil were analyzed with EDAX, and it is shown that the main
contents of expansive soil in the northern Hubei have some significant effects on engineering properties of expansive
soil. Furthermore, the soil modified by lime has an obvious increase of C a 2 and an improvement of connections
between granules so as to reduce the expansibility and contractility of soil. And it also has a better effect on the
modified expansive soil than the one modified by pulverized fuel ash.
Key words: expansive soil; engineering property; mineral composition; chemical component

1 Introduction
The engineering properties of expansive soil are controlled by especial mineral components and chemical constitutions. A study on its mineral and chemical components was conducted in order to know intrinsic factors that
control engineering properties, to discuss mechanics on
expansion, to ameliorate and strengthen its properties, and
to search new techniques and new methods for study on
it. This paper made use of some ways, such as EDAX
and so on, to study the mineral and chemical constitutions
of un-modified and modified expansive soil respectively.
The experimental results can significantly be used to evaluate characters of shale in expansive soil, and to disclose
the characters and intensity of the un-modified and the
modified expansive soil formfSl .


The Phoenix EDAX, called energy spectrometer,

produced by American General Electric Appliances Company, worked as a part of JSM-5601 scanning electron
microscope, was used to analyze elements qualitatively and
quantitatively. To study the mechanism of the reaction
among expansive clay granules, lime and pulverized fuel
ash, some analyses on the original expansive soil and the
expansive soil modified by lime and pulverized fuel ash
were carried out with SEM, and the connection points of
granule were analyzed with EDAX at the same time. This
paper measured the component of chemical elements at arbitrary points with EDAX. During analysis, an electron
beam probes the studied points to get a series of X-ray
spectra. EDAX was used to analyze the influence of addition with lime and pulverized fuel ash on the stability of
expansive soil. 9wt% pulverized lime and 50wt% pulverized fuel ash were mixed into expansive soil samples for
playing down the expansion and shrinkage. Chemical constitutions and contents are shown in Table 1.
( Received:Sep. 25,2004; Accepted:Jan. 12,2005)
DAI S h a o b i n ( ~ ) : Assoc.Prof. ; E-mail: dsb123@ mail. whnt.
edu. cn
* Funded by the Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province

Results and Discussion

Among the chemical constitutions of colloidal particle

in expansive soil, the molecule ratio of Si to A1 is 3.81,
which indicates that mineral components are mainly illite.
So the result is anastomotic with that of authentication. In
the chemical constitutions of expansive soil, general contents of some more active metals, such as alkali metals K,
Na, Ca, Mg, and alkali soil metals are high, which indicates that the degree of weathering and leaching in expansive soil is limited and chemical weathering is limited too.
The change that illite turns into roseite or montmorillonite
will result in an improvement of hydrophilicity, the engineering properties of the expansive soil will be worsened.
From Table 1, in the expansive soil, which is modified by lime and pulverized fuel ash, the contents of MgO
and CaO increase and that of Na20 and K20 decrease.
This kind of treatment plays a significant role in explaining the mechanics of the expansive soil modified by lime
and pulverized fuel ash. Because of the main ingredient
SiO 2 in pulverized fuel ash, it results in an increase of the
content of SiO: in the modified expansive soil. Fig. 1
shows the analysis of EDAX of identification points,
which are displayed in SEM image, here, expansive soil
was not be modified; Fig. 2 shows tile analysis of expansive soil mixed with 9 % lime; Fig. 3 shows the analysis of
expansive soil mixed with 50% pulverized fuel ash. Compared these figures, the obvious increase of Ca ions in soil
sample's granules agglutinate can increase connections
between granules and play down the expansibility and
contractility of soil after the expansive soil is dealt with
time and pulverized fuel ash. Comparing the expansive
soil modified by lime with the one modified by pulverized
fuel ash, we can find that Ca ions increase obviously in
the former and it has a much better property.
The mechanism of the modified expansive soil with
lime lies in the great increase of Ca2+ , M~ + after lime is
added. As we all known, slaking of lime with water and
taking swap action with basic ions, step-by-step, Na +
and K + with C2+ and Mg2+ in the expansive soil reduce
plasticity index of expansive soil evidently. Because the
decrease of plasticity, sometimes it results in the decrease


Journal of Wuhan University of Technology - Mater. Sci. Ed.

of the expansive potential energy d soil and swell-shrink

characteristics of soil. In addition, the pH value of expansive soil goes up after the expansive soil is modified by
lime, which increases the swap between ions. The mechanism of modified expansive soil with pulverized fuel ash
lies in main contents ( Si2O, A1203, Fe2 O3 ) of pulverized
Table I
Chemical components

Jun. 2005

fuel ash granules just like hollow spheres. These granules

flocculate dispersive clay granules under the condition of
that divalent and trivalent cations (such as Si4 , A13 ,
Fe3+ and so on) ionize, which may reduce the specific
surface, the hydrophilicity of granules of expansive soil,
and the dilatancy of expansive soil additionally.

The chemical components and content of the un-modified expansive soil and the modified expansive soil/%
M2 03

Original expansive soil











Expansive soil + 9%lime









Expansive soil + 50%

pulverized fuel ash







1 .(30







K Ca

Mn Fe

0.9 1,5 2.1 2.7 3.3 3.9 4.5 5.1 5.7 6,3
Fig.l The analysis ofun-modified
expansive soil with EDAX



I, r~

1[ Fe
. . . .
mill ,,
0.8 1.5 2.2 2.9 3.6 4.3 5.0 5.7 6.4 7.!
Fig.2 The analysis of expansive soil modified
by 9% lime with EDAX

The granulous substance of the expansive soil consists of these concretions. Some of them stratify and turn
into framestone so that it plays a significant role on the
stabilization of fill slope. The result of analyzing the content of these concretions in the expansive soil in northern
Hubei with EDAX indicates that this kind of concretions
mainly consists of iron-manganese concretion, including a
little of calcareous ones. These concretions come into being because of geochemical evolution when expansive rock
turns into soil, which relates nearly to terrain, climate,
groundwater regime and so on.
The formation of iron-manganese concretion in the
expansive soil results from that iron-manganese underneath! the interface of oxidation-reduction is deacidized
into Fe 2+ and Mn2+ because there exists different oxidation-reduction potential at the interface. And because the
low compounds of two elements have a larger dissolvability
and a higher concentration in the water than the high
compounds of them, they diffuse gradually towards the
water upwards, and are oxidized into compounds of Fe3
and Mn3 . Then the compound deposits come into being
iron-manganese concretion. This kind of iron-manganese
concretion varies in shape and size largely. Its diameter is
about 20-150mm, and the smallest about 2-10mm. Some
of them partly stratify and deposit or look like lens, sometimes 5% to 15% of iron-manganese concretions distribute assembly near crevice or bedding plane. Because the
content is less than 20% and they do not function as a
frame in the expansive soil, it helps soil increase the intensity rarely I61 .





a) The main chemical contents of the expansive soil,

in Jingmen of northern HuBei, are A1203 , Si02, and
Fea 03 (84.11% in all), which shows that there are rela-

0.8 1.5 2.2 2.9 3.6 4.3 5.0 5.7 6.4 7.1
Fig.3 The analysis of expansive soil modified
by 50~ pulverized fuel ash with EDAX

tively richer silica minerals than other coarse granule,

more aluminosilicate clay minerals than other little clay
granules, and the higher content of active alkali metals
(K, Na, Ca, Mg, etc). It is possible that illites turn into roseite or montmorillonite and increase the hydrophilicity of the expansive soil, furthermore, deteriorating engineering properties of the expansive soil.
b) The main concretions of the expansive soil in
Jingmen of northern HuBei, are iron-manganese concretions and a little of calcareous concretion.
c) After the expansive soil is modified by lime and
pulverized fuel ash, its agglutinate has an obviously increase of Ca2+ , makes an improvement of connections between granules and reduces the expansibility and contractility of soil. The soil modified by lime has a much more
obvious improvement of Ca2 , a better effect on the modified expansive soil than the one modified by pulverized fuel ash.

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