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EXPANSIVE SOILS

N. V. NAYAK and R. W. CHRISTENSEN

Department of Engineering Mechanics, Engineering Building, The University of Wisconsin,

Madison, Wisc. 53706

(Received 5 November 1970)

Abstraet-The limitations of existing methods for the prediction of swelling behavior of compacted

softs are examined. Both the purely theoretical approach and the purely empirical approach are found

to be inadequate. The present study is based on a semi-empirical approach in which a model of

swelling behavior is developed leading to equations relating swelling potential or swelling pressure of a

compacted soil to its plasticity index, clay content and initial molding water content. The model is

based on the concepts of the diffuse double layer, modified by introducing empirical constants to

account for elastic swelling effects and other limitations involved in the direct application of double

layer theory to real soils. The empirical constants are evaluated from the results of experimental

investigations carried out on a large number of soil samples representing a wide variation of clay

content as well as consistency limits.

It is shown that the predicted values of the swelling potential and swelling pressure based on

the proposed model agree closely with the experimental results of this study and those reported in the

literature. Furthermore, the equations developed in this study are of a more general nature and appear

to be applicable to a larger range of soil types than those previously published.

CONSIDERABLE research has been done in an empirical equations are easy to apply and give

attempt to understand the basic mechanisms invol- satisfactory results when applied to the particular

ved in swelling of expansive soils. Theories based soils for which they were developed. However,

on physico-chemical considerations have been the empirical approach also has its limitations. F o r

developed to explain swell or swell pressure example, the equations are based purely on the

characteristics of pure clay suspensions. To a results of the experimental investigations conducted

certain extent experimental verification of these on a limited number of soil samples; it remains to

theories has been obtained (see for example Bolt, be seen whether these equations give satisfactory

1956; Yong et al., 1962). However, there are results when applied to other soils. Furthermore,

certain important limitations in applying these there is no theoretical basis to support the validity

theories to natural or compacted soils. F o r example, of the particular form of equation used.

these theories fail to account for the complexities of In the present investigation semi-empirical

natural or compacted soils because of several relationships are developed to predict swelling

simplifying assumptions made in them. Also, in behavior of compacted, expansive soils. The basic

spite of the simplifying assumptions these theories forms of the relationships are derived from theoret-

are still mathematically complex and difficult to ical considerations of the diffuse double layer and

apply to engineering practice. the osmotic pressure for parallel clay plates. To

Recently greater attention has been given to bridge the gap between the idealized soil system

empirical investigations of the swelling behavior used in the theoretical considerations and the real

of compacted and natural soils (Holtz and Gibbs, soil system, empirical constants are introduced as

1956; Ladd, 1960; Seed et al., 1962; Ranganatham modifications to the basic theoretical relationships.

and Satyanarayan, 1965; Nalezny and Li, 1967; These empirical constants are evaluated from

Sowers and Kennedy, 1967; Komornik and David experimental investigations carried out on a large

1969). A s a result of these investigations, various number of soil samples representing a wide varia-

forms of empirical equations have been proposed tion in clay content and consistency limits. The

which relate swelling behavior to certain physical resulting semi-empirical equations relate swelling

properties of soils, such as consistency limits, clay behavior of a compacted soil to its clay content,

content, initial moisture content and density, plasticity index and initial molding water content.

251

252 N . V . NAYAK and R. W. CHRISTENSEN

The analytical approach to the prediction of of swelling potential of compacted softs than equa-

swelling pressure in soils is based on the osmotic tion (2) but Seed et al. suggest that equation (2)

pressure developed between clay plates (Bolt, may be best suited for practical purposes because

1956; Nalezny and Li, 1967; Mitchell, 1969). it relates the single parameter, plasticity index, to

However, in soils, osmosis occurs without the swelling potential. The authors show that the loss

physical existance of a semipermeable membrane of accuracy involved in using equation (2) instead

and the conditions inducing osmosis are different of equation (1) will not exceed +-33 per cent for

than the "ideal" conditions assumed in deriving natural soils with clay contents ranging from 8 per

the equation for osmotic pressure (Ruiz, 1962). cent to 65 per cent. They also found that shrinkage

Furthermore, in order to estimate the osmotic limit cannot be correlated with the swelling

pressure it is necessary to determine the cation potential.

concentration at the mid-plane between the Ranganatham and Satyanarayan (1965) who

particles. Solutions for cation concentration at the carried out swelling potential studies on four

mid-planes between the clay plates are available natural soils found that either swell activity (ratio

for some simple cases only, and, at any rate, it is of change in shrinkage index to the corresponding

difficult to evaluate the cation concentration change in clay content) and clay content or shrink-

accurately for natural or compacted soils. age index alone correlate better with swelling

In equating the osmotic pressure to the swelling potential of compacted softs. Thus, Ranganatham

pressure of a soil, the effects of elastic rebound, and Satyanarayan (1965) propose an equation of

pressure in entrapped air bubbles, and the forces the form,

of attraction are neglected. In some soils, including

compacted clays, swelling due to these effects S = ml (SI) 2"67 (3)

can be significant. Although there have been

attempts to account for the attractive forces (Ruiz, where,

1962; Nalezny and Li, 1967), in general, these mt = constant

theoretical equations for the prediction of swelling -- 41.13, for natural soils

or swelling pressure are far from satisfactory for S I = shrinkage index (liquid limit-shrinkage limit)

use with natural or compacted soils. as a percentage.

Recently there have been several attempts to

develop empirical relationships to predict swelling Ranganatham and Satyanarayan report that

or swelling pressure of softs. Extensive experiment- equation (3), predicts swelling potential within

al investigation by Seed et al. (1962) on artifically ---34 per cent. However, when equation (3) is

prepared, compacted soils indicated that, for a applied (by the writers) to soils studied by Seed

given type of clay mineral, the swelling potential* et al., the errors in the calculated values of swelling

of a soil, S, is related to its activity, A, and clay potential are found to be quite large, indicating

content, C, by the equation, that equation (3) as proposed by Ranganatham and

Satyanarayan is also not applicable to compacted

S = k(A 2"44)(C 3"44) (1) soils in general.

Sowers and Kennedy (1967), who studied the

where,

swelling behavior of undisturbed natural soils,

k = a constant for all types of clay mineral indicate that swell pressure and swelling potential

3-6 • 10-5. can best be related to the water plasticity ratio

which is defined as the ratio of water content minus

Seed et al. also report that plasticity index (PI) plastic limit to plasticity index. However, in the

is the single best factor to predict swelling potential case of swelling pressure versus water plasticity

of soils. The form of the equation in terms of ratio, there is a wide scatter of the data points.

plasticity index is, Komornik and David (1969) carried out swelling

pressure tests on a number of natural (undisturbed)

S = (k) ( M ) (p/2.44) (2) soft samples and, on the basis of statistical (regres-

sion) analysis, developed the following relationship:

where,

M = constant log (P) = 2.132 + 0-0208 ( L L ) + 0.000665 (Ya)

= 60 for natural soils

-- 0-0269 ( w ) (4)

= 100 for artificial soils.

where,

*Per cent vertical strain under 1 psi surcharge. P = swelling pressure in kg/cm 2

COMPACTED, EXPANSIVE SOILS 253

~/a = dry density of soil sample in kg/m 3 standard A A S H O compaction test is relatively

w = water content. constant.

A s a first approximation the swelling pressure

Komorik and David obtained a coefficient of may be equated to its osmotic pressure as expres-

correlation of 0.60 for log (P) with the parameters sed by the van't Hoff equation with the concentra-

in equation (4); i.e. liquid limit, density and mois- tion of cations at the central plane between particles

t u r e content. However, the coefficient of correla- as predicted by the Langmuir equation (Yong and

tion decreased to 0.51 when log (P) was related to Warkentin, 1966):

only two quantities, i.e. liquid limit and density.

The coefficient of correlation was further reduced R T ~r2

to 0.16 when log (P) was related to liquid limit *P = Pos = R T c c = z ~ ( d + xo)Z(lO_16 ) (5)

alone. Nevertheless, the authors state that liquid

where,

limit is best as a single variable in the prediction of

swelling pressure of soils. P ----swelling pressure

The preceding empirical equations give reason- Po, = osmotic pressure

ably good results when applied to the particular R = universal gas constant

soils for which they were developed. Furthermore, T = temperature, Kelvin units

they are easy to apply as they relate the swelling cc = concentration of cations at mid-plane

behavior to simple physical characteristics of between clay particles

soils which can be easily determined in any soil z = valence of cations

engineering laboratory. Consequently, these equa- B - dielectric constant of the pore fluid; a

tions are received more favorably in practice than constant for constant temperature

the theoretical equations discussed earlier. How- d = half-distance between clay particles

ever, as may be noted in the preceding discussion, xo = a correlation factor for plate spacing

they apparently lack the generality necessary to whose value depends upon surface

cover a broad range of soil types. charge density; its value varies from 1

to 4 A (Bolt, 1956) which is generally

A MODEL TO PREDICT SWELLING BEHAVIOR small compared to d.

Previous investigations of swelling behavior

have revealed that the following factors influence Assuming constant temperature, and x0 ~ d, the

swelling potential and swelling pressure: swelling pressure can be represented in the form

P ~ (6)

(ii) initial placement conditions zZdZ9

(iii) stress history

(iv) nature of pore fluid F o r a soil containing both clay and non-clay

(v) temperature fraction, the half-distance between particles may

(vi) volume change permitted during swelling be approximated by (Nalezny and Li, 1967)

pressure measurements

(vii) shape, size and thickness of the sample, and d = (104)w (7)

(viii) time. CSs

where,

If the experimental method is standardized, the

type and amount of clay along with certain initial w = water content, as a percentage, based

placement conditions of the samples are the basic on total weight of soil

parameters influencing swelling behavior of soils. C = clay content, by weight, of soil as a

In order to develop quantitative expressions for percentage

swelling behavior of soil, the type of soil may be S, --- specific surface of the soil in m~/g.

replaced by its consistency limits and the initial

placement conditions can best be represented by Combining equations (6) and (7) gives

the initial placement moisture content of the

sample. In treating consistency limits, clay content P C2S'2 (8)

and initial placement moisture content of the soil Z~W 2 9

as the basic parameters influencing swelling behav-

ior, it is assumed that the structure of expansive

soils compacted to maximum dry density and *Pore fluid assumed to be distilled water.

C C M - V~l. 19 No.4--D

254 N . V . NAYAK and R. W. CHRISTENSEN

It is well known that the liquid limit or plasticity following equation is obtained for the swelling

index can be used as an indicator of the specific potential with a surcharge loading of one psi:

surface of soil (Yong and Warkentin, 1966;

Komornik and David, 1969). Furthermore, for an

expansive soil, the liquid limit or plasticity index S - [E--~-~-C~C

= 1] {surcharge = 1 psi} (14)

decreases with increasing valence of cations ad-

or

sorbed on the clay surface. Accordingly, the quan-

tity (Ss2/z 2) in equation (8) is replaced by an Emc + K"

expression of the form, S = K~ w m (15)

5 2

~ E 2r (9) where equation (14) represents the expected form

Z2 of the relationship for swelling potential and equa-

tion (15) is a regression equation with parameters

where, Kin, K,~ and rn to be determined from least squares

E = liquid limit, plasticity index or shrink- analysis of experimental data on swelling potential.

age index Several approximations were introduced in

j = a constant. deriving the equations for the prediction of swelling

behavior due to osmotic effects. In addition, it may

Equation (9) is an attempt to give a simple math- be mentioned that the swelling pressure and swelling

ematical representation to the relationship between potential due to mechanical effects may or may not

the consistency limits of a soil and its specific be related to each other in the same manner as that

surface and valence of the adsorbed cations. Better due to osmotic effects. At present there are no

results may be obtained if the quantity (Ss2/z 2) is mathematical equations available relating elastic

represented as a power series in E. However, swelling behavior to physical properties of soils.

lacking precise knowledge of the behavior of E with But it seems reasonable to assume that the stored

respect to (Ss2/z2), such refinement seems inap- elastic strain energy due to bending of particles

propriate. Substituting equation (9) into equation must be related, in some way, to the surface area.

(8), As previously discussed, the parameter E is an

indicator of the surface area and hence it is prob-

C2E2J able that swelling behavior related to elastic effects

P -- - - (10)

W2 is also a function of the parameter E. Thus, the

basic form of equations (11) and (15) is believed to

or equivalently,

be adequate for the prediction of swelling behavior

End2 due to both osmotic and mechanical effects.

P = K',, ~ + K : . (11) In the equations for the prediction of swelling

W

behavior, the parameter E is an indicator of the soil

Equation (10) describes the form of the expected type. It has been previously noted that the type of

relationship for swelling pressure as a function of soil can be represented by liquid limit, plasticity

clay content, water content and consistency limits. index or shrinkage index. The selection of the best

Then equation (11) can be regarded as a regression of these three parameters to represent the term E

function

. with parameters

.

K', K",

. n n

and n to be deter- is to be determined on the basis of experimental

mined by applying the pnnciple of least squares to results.

experimental data on swelling pressure.

The swelling potential, S, defined as the percent EXPERIMENTAL WORK

increase in the vertical height is given by In order to obtain a sufficient variation in the clay

content, consistency limits and moisture content

[ -iI_1100

S = Ldt (12)

within a few soil samples, the soils were prepared

by mixing silica sand and commercially available

days, viz. kaolinite, grundite and bentonite in

where de and di refer to the final and initial half- various proportions. In all 18 different soils as

spacing between particles respectively. From equa- listed in Table 1 were tested.

tion (6) it may be seen that, for a given soil, The swelling potential and swelling pressure

tests were conducted on soil specimens compacted

l to a moisture content close to the optimum and

d - x/P (13) the corresponding density of the s t a n d a r d A A S H O

compaction test. Prior to compaction, the soil was

Then, combining equations (10), (12), and (13) the mixed with the desired amount of distilled water

COMPACTED, EXPANSIVE SOILS 255

eL

O

O

o

;=

.<

.<

[-

,..2

o

,.O

[- Oq

E

2

,r ..o

O

o

o

eq

O

II

~ e q ee~ L~

o

,6

256 N . V . NAYAK and R. W. CHRISTENSEN

and allowed to equilibrate for 4 days in a closed (ii) For swelling potential

container kept in a room maintained at a constant

temperature near 75~ The compaction test was

carried out in a specially designed Proctor mold Se = (1"3548 X 10-2) (pi)l.sa C + 4.8046 {For GB

which is divided into 3 parts. The portion of the wi Soils} (19)

specimen in the central part which is exactly 1 in.

high was used for swelling potential and swelling Sp = (4"4938 • 10-s) (pl)l.r4 C + 14"722 {For KB

pressure tests. wi Soils} (20)

The sample in a swelling potential test was

permitted to swell in the vertical direction under a

surcharge of 1 lb/in 2. In the swelling pressure test Sp = (2-29 • 10-2) (p1)1.45 __~_C

+ 6.38 {For all soils}

the sample was restrained from swelling, with the wt (21)

restraint provided through a load cell or a proving

ring which permitted the measurement of the vert- where Sp is the predicted value of swelling poten-

ical force on the sample. For all the samples the tial, as a percentage, at the initial moisture content,

maximum vertical strain allowed was less than 0.1 w~, of the sample.

per cent which is negligible for all practical purposes. In each of the six cases the coefficient of cor-

The results of the various tests, i.e. consistency relation, r, of the fitted regression lines is very high

limits, compaction, swelling potential, and swelling as can be seen by the comparison between the

pressure tests, are given in Table 1. predicted and the measured values shown in Figs.

1-4. Of course the correlation is better when separ-

ate equations are fitted for GB and KB soils.

DISCUSSION OF TEST RESULTS

The constants and the parameter E in equations COMPARISON OF RESULTS WITH PREVIOUS

(11) and (15) were evaluated from the test results INVESTIGATIONS

by using regression analysis. It wa's found that E in Many investigators have conducted swelling

those equations can best be represented by the pressure and/or swelling potential tests on com-

plasticity index rather than the liquid limit or pacted expansive soils (Ladd, 1960; Seed et al.,

shrinkage index. 1962; Parcher and Liu, 1965; Ranganatham and

The soils of the present investigation can be Satyanarayan, 1965; Nalezny and Li 1967).

grouped broadly into two categories: i.e. one group Unfortunately, in most cases, either the testing

containing the softs with grundite and bentonite conditions differ greatly from that adopted in the

clay minerals (GB soils) and the other group present investigation (Ladd, 1960; Parcher and

representing the soils with kaolinite and bentonite Liu, 1965; Nalezny and Li, 1967), or the given

clay minerals (KB softs). The constants of equa- data are insufficient to apply the proposed equations

tions (11) and (15) were evaluated both separately to their soils (Seed et al., 1962). However, some

and combined, for the soils of these two groups. comparisons of the various proposed methods are

The following equations were obtained by the possible. These are summarized in Fig. 5 and Table

method of least squares. 2.

Figure 5 shows a comparison of the ratios of

(i) For swelling pressure predicted to measured values of swelling potential

and swelling pressure using the methods previously

C2

reviewed, as well as the writers equations. Figure

Pp = (5.05 • 10-3) (PI) ~'66 3 + 4 . 1 2 3 9 {For GB 5a applies to the soils studied by the writers, while

~/ Soils} (16) Fig. 5b applies to the soils studied by Seed et al.

The results of these comparisons are summarized

in Table 2.

Cg The relative success of the various prediction

Pp = (6"982• 10-4) ( e l ) ~'92 7S2~+9.1191 {For

two) KBSofts} (17) methods can be evaluated in terms of (a) the scatter

of the data points and (b) the mean value of the

C2 ratio of the predicted to the measured values. In

ep = (3.5817 • 10-z) (pl)H2 ~ + 3 " 7 9 1 2 {For Fig. 5, the scatter of the data is manifested in the

two) all softs} (18) slope of the curves; i.e. the flatter the slope, the

greater the scatter. Of course, the mean value of

where Pp is the predicted value of swelling pressure, Sp[Sm or PP/Pm should, ideally, be as close to unity

in psi, at the initial moisture content, w~, of the as possible. In Table 2, the relative amount of

sample. scatter in the various methods can readily be seen

C O M P A C T E D , E X P A N S I V E SOILS 257

g I I II / r i

"3

o.

i/ -

E 4C

(I. -- KB Soil Pp-(6.9e2xl{)4l(Pl) 1"92 C2 +9.1191 ; ( r = 0.98)

~. 3O

]I

u) 20

=E

IO

0 I i I I I I

0 I0 20 30 40 50 60

Fig. l. Measure vs. predicted values of swelling pressure.

I I I I I

2 + 3.7912 ; ( r - 0 . 9 2 ) _

~ 40

m w i"

o.

2

,m

=

(1.

o=

.=_

3=

or)

30

20

/

~

o://

1o "o~, o GB Soil

/ o

e 9 KB Soil

O

,m I0

:E

0 l I I | I

0 I0 20 30 40 50

258 N . V . N A Y A K and R. W. C H R I S T E N S E N

I I I I ~'o I

3O

~6

20

I I I I I

0 I0 20 30 40 50

Predicted Swelling Potentiol , Sp(%)

i I I I ol

4O wI

ee

E

(/I

3o

o

Q.

c

= 20

~ o 9

oil

o " KB Soil

~ ~o

0 I l I I

0 I0 20 30 40 50

C O M P A C T E D , E X P A N S I V E SOILS 259

IO0~

~'/I /j~,--- Rongonatham et ol. ( Eqn.3)

il/

80

z,.,

I--

/

60

I

I

--I

IP

40

n

Swelling Potential

20

---- Swelling Pressure

0 1_ II 9 II II [ I I I II

0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 0 1.0 2.0

(a) Sp/S m or Pp/Pm (b)

Fig. 5. Comparisonof prediction methodsfor swelling potential and swelling pressure(a) soils of the present

study (b) soils studiedby Seedet al.

equation(21)

Seedet al. 0.35 0.77 1.92 0,65 0.92 1.35

equation(1)

Seedet al. 1-02 1-97 4.73 0,07 0.92 1.45

equation(2)

Ranganathamand 0.28 0.86 1.75 0,05 0-30 0-45

Satyanarayan

equation(3)

equation(18)

Komornik and David 0-80 1.36 4.70

equation(4)

(SfiS,.)~o, (Sp/S,.)5o and (Sp/S,.)9o designatethat 10 per cent, 50 per cent and 90 per cent of the observations

are smallerthan the reportedvalues.

260 N . V . NAYAK and R. W. CHRISTENSEN

by comparing the differences between the 90 per mechanical swelling phenomena and have been

cent and 10 per cent values and the approximate found to give accurate predictions of swelling

mean value is given by the 50 per cent value. pressure and swelling potential for a wide range of

F o r the soils of the present study, the writers soil types.

equation (equation 21) clearly gives the most (2) The application of the proposed equations in

accurate predictions for swelling potential followed practice is simple as they contain only parameters

by Ranganatham and Satyanarayan (equation 3) which can be determined from routine classification

and Seed equation involving activity tests; namely, plasticity index, clay content and

(equation 1). The equation recommended by Seed initial molding water content.

for practical use (equation 2) produces large (3) Comparison with other methods reported in

errors, particularly for soils of high plasticity. F o r the literature indicates that the proposed equations

swelling pressure, the writers equation 18 gives the give considerably better accuracy, at least for the

best results. The only other method available for soils tested by the writers. The other methods

comparison, that of Komornik and David (equation appear to be most inaccurate in the ranges of high

4) is comparatively inaccurate when applied to the plasticity (for swelling potential) and high activity

soils of the present study. (for swelling pressure) where the tendency is for

Figure 5b shows a comparison of the methods of the swelling potential or swelling pressure to be

Ranganatham and Satyanarayan (equation 3) and greatly overestimated. On the other hand, the

Seed (equations 1 and 2) for the soils studied writers' equations do not seem to suffer any loss

by Seed The writers method could not be of accuracy in these ranges.

included in this comparison because the molding (4) Since the molding water content is included

water content for these soils is unknown. F o r as one of the variables in the writers' equations,

these soils the method of Seed (equation 1) they have a wider range of applicability than those

appears to give the best results. However, it may previously proposed. Although the writers' equa-

be noted that Ranganatham and Satyanarayan's tions assume constant soil structure, and, therefore,

method gives comparatively little scatter and by similar conditions of compaction, a range of water

suitable adjustment of the constant ml, the agree- contents near the optimum can be accommodated

ment would be better than that obtained from either without seriously violating the assumptions. This is

of the equations proposed by Seed Therefore, an important advantage since some variation from

it would appear that for the soils studied by Seed the optimum water content is inevitable in field

the shrinkage index is a slightly better indic- compaction.

ator of swelling potential than is the activity and

considerably better than the plasticity index alone.

In the case of the writers' soils (Fig. 5a), these two REFERENCES

approaches (equations 1 and 3) appear to give

Bolt, G. H. (1956) Physico-chemical analysis of the

nearly the same degree of accuracy. compressibility of pure clays: VI, 86-93.

The writer's equation for swelling potential Holtz, W. G. and Gibbs, H. J. (1956) Engineering proper-

(equation 21) was also applied to the soils tested ties of expansive clays: 121,

by Ranganatham and Satyanarayan (1965). How- 641-677.

ever, the results of this comparison are not included Komornik, A. and David, D. (1969) Prediction of swel-

in Fig. 5 or Table 2 because of the small number ling pressure of clays:

of tests (4) reported. The accuracy of the writers SM No. 1, pp. 209-225.

predictions is roughly equivalent to that of Rangan- Ladd, C. C. (1960) Mechanism of swelling by compacted

atham and Satyanarayan (maximum error equals clay: No. 245, pp. 10-26.

Mitchell, J. K. (1969) Temperature effects on engineering

49 per cent for the writers predictions as compared properties and behavior of soils:

to 36 per cent for Ranganatham and Satyan- No. 103, pp. 9-28.

arayan) for the tests reported. It must be noted, Nalezny, C. L. and Li, Mo. Co. (1967) Effect of soil

however, that this comparison is not very meaning- structure and thixotropic hardening on the swelling

ful from a statistical point of view due to the small behavior of compacted clay soils:

size of the (statistical) sample. No. 209, pp. 1-20.

Parcher, J. V. and Liu, P. C. (1965) Some swelling

characteristics of compacted clays: Soil

CONCLUSIONS Mechanics and Foundation Division, Vol. 91, No.

SM-3, Part l,pp. 1-18.

(I) A set of semi-empirical equations has been Ranganatham, B. V. and Satyanarayan, B. (1965) A

derived for the prediction of swelling behavior of rational method of predicting swelling potential for

compacted, expansive soils. The proposed equa- compacted expansive clays:

tions are based on consideration of osmotic and Vol. 1, pp. 92-96.

Bull. Highway Res. Board

Introduction to

J. ASCE, Soil Behavior.

3rd Pan Am. Conf. Soil Mechanics Foundation Engng, Foundation Engng, Paris

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