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14me CRA MSG, Yaound, 26-28 Novembre 2007 14th ARC SMGE, Yaounde, 26-28 November 2007

THE SHRINKAGE PROPERTIES OF CLAY SOILS FROM SUDAN



LES PROPRITS DE RETRAIT DES SOLS ARGILEUX DU SOUDAN

Ahmed M. ELSHARIEF
1
, Husham H. RAHMATALLA
2
1
Building and Road Research Institute, University of Khartoum, Sudan.
2
Material Engineer, Khartoum, Sudan.


ABSTRACT: This paper presents the results of linear, volumetric and COLE shrinkage tests car-
ried out on 18 clayey soil samples obtained from different locations in Sudan. Physicochemical soil
properties such as liquid limit, plastic limit, free swell and cation exchange capacity were measured
for all samples. Parameters were estimated from the volumetric shrinkage curves and were corre-
lated with the physico-chemical properties of the tested soils. The shrinkage parameters such as
the shrinkage ratio, volume of solids, the volumetric shrinkage and the percent of volume at the
plastic limit are good parameters for estimating the shrinkage potential.

RSUM Cette communication prsente les rsultats des essais de retrait linaire, volumique et
de Cole raliss sur 18 chantillons de sols argileux prlevs dans diffrentes rgions du Soudan.
Les proprits physico-chimiques du sol, comme la limite de liquidit, la limite de plasticit,
lamplitude de gonflement libre et la capacit dchange cationique ont t mesures sur tous les
chantillons. Des paramtres ont t dduits des courbes de retrait volumique et corrls avec les
proprits physico-chimiques des sols tests. Les paramtres de retrait tels que le rapport de re-
trait, le volume des particules solides, le retrait volumique et le pourcentage du volume la limite
de plasticit sont de bons paramtres pour estimer le potentiel de retrait.


1. Introduction

The successive swelling and shrinkage of expansive soils cause deteriorations, significant dam-
ages and cracks to structures. The damages included floors and foundation movements as well as
serious cracks in buildings, roads, sewer lines and structures erected on or in expansive soils. Re-
search in the past focused more on the swelling characteristics of clay soils and the resulted heave
of foundations and structural elements. Less attention was given to the study of the shrinkage be-
havior of expansive soils.
The linear shrinkage and coefficient of linear extensibility COLE are simple tests normally used
for the evaluation of the shrinkage potential of soils. The latter is used routinely by the National Soil
Survey Laboratory of US Soil Conservation Service to characterize shrink-swell potential of soils.
The test determines the linear strain of undisturbed and unconfined sample on drying from 5 psi
suction to oven drying. The volumetric shrinkage test is a comprehensive soil testing method that
describes, quantitatively, the shrinkage potential of clayey soils. The test provides direct measure-
ments of the linear shrinkage in the form of vertical and lateral changes in sample size and deter-
mines shrinkage factors namely shrinkage limit, shrinkage ratio, shrinkage index and volumetric
shrinkage.
Figure 1 shows the decrease of the volume of a clayey soil with loss of moisture as obtained
from the volumetric shrinkage test when water content of a potentially expansive soil is gradually
reduced. Its volume decreases to a stage after which the reduction in the soil water does not result
in further decrease in sample volume. The curve shown in Figure 1 has two parts, the inclined
straight line of best fit through the points representing the first few readings and the horizontal
straight line through the point representing V
d
(oven-dried volume). The inclined line, when
extended downward theoretically intersects the vertical axis at a value V
s
(volume of solids). The
moisture content (in %) at the point where the two lines intersect is the shrinkage limit (w
S
).

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14me CRA MSG, Yaound, 26-28 Novembre 2007 14th ARC SMGE, Yaounde, 26-28 November 2007


CHANGE IN COLOR
w
S
w
P
w
L
w(%)
V
s

vary
V
o
l
u
m
e

(
c
m
3
)

V
i



Figure 1. Determination of the shrinkage limit from volume vs. moisture content curve

The parameters that can be obtained from a volumetric shrinkage test are shrinkage ratio, volu-
metric shrinkage and volumetric shrinkage at the plastic limit.
The shrinkage ratio (R
s
) represents the mass of dry soil per unit of dry volume as obtained from
a volumetric shrinkage test (BS 1377-1990); it can be calculated from equation (1):
R
s
=M
d
/ V
d
(1)
where
M
d
= the oven-dry mass of the specimen,
V
d
= the oven-dry volume of specimen.
The volumetric shrinkage (V
sh
) is defined as the dry volume, expressed as a percentage of the
soil mass when dried, when water content is reduced from a given initial value w to the shrinkage
limit w
S
. The volumetric shrinkage can be calculated from equation (2):
V
sh
=(w- w
S
) / R
s
. (2)
The volumetric shrinkage at the plastic limit corresponds to the decrease in the moisture content
from plastic limit to shrinkage limit. It is obtainable by substituting the natural moisture content w by
the plastic limit w
P
in Equation 2.


2. Materials and test methods

Eighteen samples obtained from different areas in Sudan were tested. Sixteen of these samples
were obtained from Central, Mid-Eastern and Southern Sudan. A kaolinitic clay sample from
Merowe in Northern Sudan and a wind dust sample collected in Khartoum were also tested. Basic
classification tests were carried out on all the samples (grain size analysis, hydrometer and Atter-
berg limits). The shrinkage tests carried out on all the samples were linear shrinkage, Cole and
volumetric shrinkage. The volumetric shrinkage test method covered the procedure for determina-
tion of shrinkage limit, shrinkage ratio, and volumetric shrinkage of cylindrical specimens of re-
moulded soil samples. The method used for testing followed BS 1377: Part 2:1990 CL 6.3. The
free swell test (sedimentation method) was carried on all the samples for comparing the swell-
shrinkage behaviour. Cation exchange capacity was measured for all the samples. Summary of re-
sults of all the tests is given in Table 1 for all samples.


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14me CRA MSG, Yaound, 26-28 Novembre 2007 14th ARC SMGE, Yaounde, 26-28 November 2007

Table 1. The physico-chemical and derived properties
Atterberg limits I
P
CEC LS FS
Cole
(%) Sample name
w
L
w
P
w
S

Alsemaih 62 28 10 34 58.7 16 179 10.88
Tharjath 1 74 24 10 50 35.9 16 175 9.90
Tharjath 2 69 26 13 43 37.0 14 170 9.15
Talodi 60 25 9.5 35 43.5 15.7 138 11.78
Medani Sugshabi 62 28 11 34 54.4 17 180 12.53
Medani Nishaisheba 74 32 11.5 42 54.4 18 200 13.65
Altaib Wadalsaih 52 23 13 29 40.2 15.6 140 12.23
Fao 73 38 10.5 35 84.8 20 200 14.25
Alray Alsory 61 23 13.2 38 41.0 14.3 120 8.63
Arkaweat 83 28 11.5 55 43.5 17 180 12.00
Shambat 67 27 11.5 40 47.8 16.5 183 8.18
Al Lamab 70 26 12.4 44 39.1 15 160 7.50
Al Manshia 60 30 12.5 30 53.3 17 195 8.25
Palouge 71 29 10 42 64.1 16.5 200 7.88
Sinnar Sugar 68 27 11.5 41 42.4 18 180 11.33
Sinnar Kabosh 91 38 9 53 76.1 20 220 15.0
Wind Dust 38 26 19 12 30.4 7 65 6.0
Marawi Kaolin 36 26 20 10 8.2 5.51 15 3.0
w
L
is the liquid limit; w
P
is the plastic limit; w
S
is the shrinkage limit; CEC is the cation ex-
change capacity; LS is the linear shrinkage; I
P
is the plasticity index; FS is the free swell


3. Discussion of the results

The linear shrinkage test is known to give a good indication of the shrinkage potential of expansive
soils. Potentially expansive soils are known to exhibit a linear shrinkage greater than 8% (Mo-
hamed, 2000). Linear shrinkage correlates very well with the plasticity index (Omer, 1983) and ex-
perience in Sudan has shown that high values of linear shrinkage are very much related to re-
ported damages. The linear shrinkage values exceed 14% for the tested soils, with a maximum
value of 20%. The value for Merowe kaolin is 5.5 % and it is 7% for the wind dust sample. Linear
shrinkage correlates very well with free swell and therefore intrinsic swelling and shrinkage poten-
tials are very much related.
The volumetric shrinkage test is used mainly for determination of the shrinkage limit of clayey
soils. However, the test gives valuable information on the change of volume with decrease of mois-
ture and therefore several parameters could be obtained from the volumetric shrinkage curve as
demonstrated in Section 2. The shrinkage ratio, volumetric shrinkage and volumetric shrinkage at
the plastic limit were computed from the data in Table 1 and related to basic soil properties of the
tested samples (Figure 2 to Figure 4).
The derived properties (shrinkage ratio, volumetric shrinkage and volumetric shrinkage at the
plastic limit) correlated very well with linear shrinkage and free swell. They are therefore good indi-
cators of the intrinsic swelling and shrinkage of expansive soils (Figures 2 to 4). The relationship
with Cole is fairly established for the shrinkage ratio and well established for the other two. The
CEC correlates very well with the shrinkage ratio, volumetric shrinkage at the plastic limit and
volumetric shrinkage.


4. Conclusion

This paper evaluated the shrinkage characteristics of potentially expansive soils from the Central,
Eastern and Southern clay plains of Sudan. The samples are from different origins and exhibited
high shrinkage potential. Derived parameters from the volumetric shrinkage test, useful for deter-
mination of the shrinkage limit of the soils, correlate very well with linear shrinkage and free swell
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14me CRA MSG, Yaound, 26-28 Novembre 2007 14th ARC SMGE, Yaounde, 26-28 November 2007

and therefore could be a good measure of the intrinsic swelling and shrinkage of highly expansive
soils.



Figure 2. Shrinkage ratio vs. basic properties.



Figure 3. Volumetric shrinkage (V
sh
) vs. basic properties


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14me CRA MSG, Yaound, 26-28 Novembre 2007 14th ARC SMGE, Yaounde, 26-28 November 2007




Figure 4. Volume shrinkage at the plastic limit (%V
p
) vs. basic properties


5. References

BS 1377: Part 2 (1990). British standard methods of test for soil for civil engineering purposes
(Classification Tests).

Day R.W. (2001). Soil testing manual procedures. Classification data and sampling particles.
McGraw-Hill, Inc.

DeJ ong E., Warkentin B. (1965). Shrinkage of soils with varying clay content. Canadian Geotech-
nical Journal, Ottawa, 2(1), 16-22.

Holtz R.D, William D. (1981). An introduction to geotechnical engineering. Hall, Inc. pp. 183-187.

Olsen H.W. et al. (1997-2000). Identification and mapping of expansive soils in the
Western U.S.A. using field spectrometry and Avaris data. University of Colorado,
Denver.

Rahamatalla H.H. (2005). Shrinkage behaviour of expansive clays. MSc. Thesis, BRRI, University
of Khartoum, Sudan.

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