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Geotechnical Properties of Nearshore Sediments of Canso Strait, Nova Scotia

J. D. BROWN
Nova Scotia Technical College, P.O. Box 1000, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J2X4
AND

Atlantic Geoscierzce Centre, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmosrth, Nova Scotia B2Y 4A2
Received June 12, 1974
Accepted October 16, 1974

The results are reported of a field and laboratory investigation of the geotechnical properties of
the surficial bottom, or near-surface, sediments of the Strait of Canso, Nova Scotia. The
investigation procedures included in situ shear vane tests performed using a diver-operated
apparatus lowered to the bottom from the survey ship, and undisturbed sampling using the Lehigh
University Gravity Corer, which provides a 10 cm diameter sample.
Soils encountered within the sampling depth (0-1.5 m maximum) consisted of layered and
bioturbated coarse-grained and fine-grained sediments. Most of the investigative work was
concerned with the fine-grained sediments, clayey silts, and clays, which were found to be soft
and compressible, but possessed a reserve resistance in both shear and one-dimensional consolidation which give them the characteristics of overconsolidated clays. This reserve resistance has
been attributed to chemical alteration, including the effects of organic compounds.
On presente les resultats d'une etude sur le terrain et au laboratoire des proprietes
geotechniques des sediments de surface ou afaible profondeur dans les fonds du detroit de Canso,
Nouvelle Ecosse. Les procCdures de reconnaissance ont comport6 des essaus au scissomktre in
situ BI'aide d'un appareil descendu en place a partir du navire-laboratoire et opere par plongeur,
et un Cchantillonneur par gravite de I'UniversitC Lehigh, qui fournit des tchantillons de 10 cm de
diamktre.
Les sols rencontres dans la tranche de profondeur Bchantillonnee (0-1.5 maximum) consistaient en sediments a grains grossiers et B grains fins, stratifies et remanies par des agents
biologiques. La majeure partie des travaux de reconnaissance a 6tC consacree aux sediments fins,
des silts argileux et des argiles, qu'on a trouve Ctre mous et compressibles, mais possedant une
"resistance de reserve" en cisaillement aussi bien qu'en consolidation qui leur donne les
caractCristiques d'argiles surconsolidees. Cette resistance de reserve a kt& attribuee B une
altCration chimique, incluant les effets de composants organiques.
[Traduit par la Revue]

Introduction
A careful evaluation of the geotechnical
properties of sediments1 is highly essential and
important to avoid high performance risks of
all onshore, nearshore, and underwater structures that are continually increasing with increased ocean exploration or onshore industrial
development. The ocean presents a formidable
environment to all engineering structures and
in meeting the hostile submarine conditions,
geologists and engineers must be aware of
marine soil mechanics. They should understand
the behavior of different types of marine sediments under various types of loading pro'In this paper 'soils' and 'sediments' are synonymous, and carry the engineering connotation of soil
as a particulate body consisting essentially of mineral
grains and water.
Can. Geotech. J., 12,44(1975)

cedures so as to provide a proper foundation


dcsign at the minimum cost commensurate with
the stability and security of structures that will
be founded upon them. A knowledge of the
nature and distribution of sediments will also
be helpful in many other operations, such as
dredging to make way for navigation channels
or using the sediments as fill materials for land
reclamation, piers and wharves, and similar
structures.
The geotechnical properties of terrestrial
soils have received considerable attention from
engineers and geologists but similar properties
of near-surface marine sediments are not well
understood at the present7 and very few basic
data arc available for engineering evaluation.
The behavior of these surficial sediments, which
may be very loose or very soft, is not just
academic, as has been pointed out by Richards

BROWN AND RASHID: C A N S 0 STRAIT SEDIMENTS


24

22

18

BG

NPP
CGE

12

14

08

BESTWAIL GYPSUM LMDING TERMINAL


NOVA SCOTl4 PULP
CANADIAN GENERAL ELECTRIC
HEAW WATER F U N 1

GULfOlL

REFlNERI AND OCEAN TERMINAL

SAMPLING LOCATIONS

J I N V R l N ISLAND

STRAIT OF C A N S 0
AND SOUTHERNAWROACHES
0

CHEDABUCTO

BAY

3111
3112&1~

KILOMETRES

FIG. 1 .

Map of investigation area and sampling locations.

and Parker (1967). The oil exploration activities currently underway on the eastern seaboard
of the Atlantic Ocean may eventually require
construction of pipelines from offshore fields
to mainland Nova Scotia, as well as other production facilities. This may enhance the importance of the Strait of Canso and Chedabucto
Bay area which has already become the center
of rapid industrial and urban development.
Looking ahead to future needs, this area was
selected for the determination of the geotechnical properties of the bottom sediments.

Geology and Texture of Sediments


The sampling locations of the area under
study are shown in Fig. 1. The causeway constructed in 1954 on the Strait of Canso has
profoundly influenced the oceanographic environment of the area by reducing the strong
tidal currents that existed prior to the construction and also by preventing the local mixing of
waters from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the

Atlantic Ocean. Consequently the process of


sedimentation has changed in the immediate
vicinity of the causeway allowing increased deposition of fine sediments. This effect, however,
is less visible in our sampling area or other
areas away from the causeway. For detailed
information readers are referred to the latest
publication by Buckley et al. (1974). On either
side of the Strait and its approaches the predominant sediments are locally derived glacial
tills of low plasticity which closely reflect the
nature of the underlying bedrock, which consists of interbedded Carboniferous sedimentary
rocks, including shale, sandstone, limestone,
and conglomerates. The sea bottom is underlain by similar tills, a consequence of a rise in
sea level plus submergence of the land following the last glaciation.
Sampling was carried out at eight locations
within the study area, at which the sediment
profiles to depths of about 1 m were obtained.
At both ends of the Strait of Canso and in the

46

CAN. GEOTECH. J.

VOL.

12, 1975

northern part of Chedabucto Bay, sand and


gravel are the predominant sediments encountered. Within the Strait, south of the causeway,
fine-grained sediments (silt and clay) predominate within the depths investigated. On the
cast side of the Strait adjacent to the industrialized area and in a small harbour on the
wcst side of the Strait, approximately 30 cm of
stratified coarse-grained sediments were found
to overlie the silts and clays. In Port Hawkesbury harbour soft silts and clays were found at
, the surface and at depth in the cores with an
intermediate layer of sand and silt.
Investigation Procedures
Thc main part of the field work consisted of
obtaining undisturbed samples of the bottom
sediments at nine locations as shown in Fig. 1,
and attempting to perform in situ vane shear
tcsts at different locations in order to compare
the results of in situ vane tests with laboratory
analyses. In the depths of water ( 10-30 m) in
which milch of the work was carried out conventional methods of soil exploration could
have been used; however, the equipment described below was chosen to provide experience
in its use which will be of value when future
investigations are carried out in deeper water,
or where time and expense preclude the use
of conventional drilling equipment.
The undisturbed samples were obtained by
use of the Lehigh University Gravity Corer
(Richards and Parker 1967), which is shown
in operation in Fig. 2. In this device, the sample
tube consists of a seamless polyvinyl chloride
tube 240 cm long, 10.5 cm inside diameter,
and 11.4 cm outside diameter. The cutting
edge of the tube is sharpened to facilitate
penetration. A check valve is fitted at the top
of the tube to prevent loss of the sample, and
a spring-operated core catcher is supplied to
close over the lower end, if necessary. The core
catcher was not employed in this program. The
tube penetrates the bottom by free falling for
10-20 m under a weight of about 150 kg.
From a total of 34 attempts, 17 samples
were recovered, either two or three from each
location. One sample from each location was
opened in the field laboratory, in connection
with other studies being conducted by the
Atlantic Geoscience Centre, and the remaining
eight were shipped to the soils laboratory where

FIG.2. Gravity corer in operation.

they were stored at a constant temperature of


5 OC.
The term 'undisturbed' is used advisedly
here, and is meant to imply equivalence to
Shelby-tube samples. It is generally held that
the area ratio of sampling tubes should not
exceed 40%, in order to prevent excessive disturbance during penetration; conventional
Shelby-tube area ratios lie in the range 1020%, depending on wall thickness and tube
diameter. The area ratio for the Lehigh corer
is 18% , which makes it comparable to Shelby
tubes. A further qualitative criterion of sample
disturbance is the recovery ratio, which is the
length of soil in the tube divided by the penetration. With the sampling procedure used, the
penetration could only be crudely estimated
Crom the mud smear on the outside of the tube.
For the samples recovered, this ratio varied
from 36 to 7 4 % , with an average of 63%.
In some cases, the sampler cutting edge was
damaged during penetration and the samples
showed visual evidence of disturbance. For the

BROWN AND RASHID: CANSO STRAIT SEDIMENTS

samples tested, however, there was no distortion of layer boundaries, or other visual evidence of disturbance.
It is known that sample disturbance may
occur without visible signs, and to establish the
true degree of disturbance is difficult. This is
sometimes attempted by comparative testing
of samples recovered by various methods. In
the present case, circumstances did not permit
the use of alternative sampling equipment.
The in situ vane shear apparatus, shown in
Fig. 3, was designed and built in a short period
of time, and was in fact a trial apparatus to
investigate the feasibility of employing a mechanically simple, diver-operated apparatus in
relatively shallow water (less than about 30 m ) .
Thc essential features are a 3 m high tripod
wcighing about 100 kg, supporting the shear
vane, which is pushed into the sediments by
means of a crank-operated chain drive. Once
in position in the soil, the rotational torque is
provided by a pair of levers, connected by a
spring balance. One lever is free to rotate about

FIG. 3. In situ vane apparatus.

47

the axis of the vane shaft; this lever is operated


by a diver. The force applied by the diver is
transmitted through the spring balance to a
second lever attached to the vane shaft. In this
way the torque on the vane can be measured.
The procedure called for vane tests at 30 cm
intervals from the sea floor, to a maximum
depth of 152 cm. The vane used in the tests
had a height of 15.2 cm and an equivalent
diameter of 7.6 cm.
The apparatus was lowered to the bottom
suspended from a winch-operated cable. The
total time from lowering to recovery of the
apparatus, and following the prescribed procedure, was about 12-15 min in waters less
than 25 m deep. It was found that the method
of cperation was feasible. However, the tests
produced limited results because, in general,
there were sufficient gravel or sand layers to
prevent penetration of the vane. The exccption
to these conditions was Ship Harbour, wherc
a total of 19 locations were tested, at depths
from 23 to 145 cm, in the immediate vicinity
of Samples 3 101 and 3 102, shown in Fig. 1.
Of thc eight corcs reserved for laboratory
tests, threc cores consisted entirely of coarsegrained sediments (sand and gravel). No dctailed testing was performed on these samples.
Of thc remaining five samples only onc (Sample
3 10 1 ) consisted entirely of fine-grained sediments (silt and clay); the others contained
clearly defined layers of fine and coarse-grained
sediments. The tcsting program was designed
to concentrate on the properties of thc finegrained sediments, and consequently the quantity of samples was limited. Great difficulty
way encountered in preparing undisturbed test
specimens from those clay samples which contained coarse-grained inclusions.
Nine one-dimensional consolidation tests and
four triaxial compression tests were carried
out on the clay samples, together with larger
numbers of water content, grain size distribution, unit weight, Atterbcrg limits, and cone
shear tests.
In addition, organic content, interstitial
water, and X-ray diffraction analyses were
performed.

Test Results
The sediments contained in the cores have
been grouped into two textural classifications

48

CAN. GEOTECH. J. VOL. 12, 1975

TABLE1. Summarized properties of coarse-grained soils

Sand
(%I1

Fines

Soil

Gravel
(%I1

(%I1

Gravelly sand
Fine to medium sand

23-40
0-5

53-74
74-98

3-7
2-20

Organic
content

Yt

(I,

(%)

(g/cm3)

Relative
density2

4-30
3

0.72
0.90

1.89-1.98
1.86-1.91

loose
loose

'M.I.T. Grain Size Classification.


=As suggested by Terzaghi and Peck (1967).

for purposes of summarizing the laboratory


tests.
Coarse-grained Sediments
Coarse-grained sediments occur as loose
brown well-graded gravelly sands and loose
brown uniform fine to medium sands, in
samples taken from both ends of, and within,
the Strait. Both sediments consist of rounded
to subangular particles, and contain shell fragments. Their properties are summarized in
Table 1. Although the effect of sampling is
almost certain to change the density of coarsegrained soils, the measured unit weights and
the depths of penetration of the corer suggest
that the relative density of these sediments in
situ would be low, and they can most probably
be described as 'loose'.
Clayey Silts and Clays
Fine-grained sediments, broadly designated
as clayey silts and silty clays, were encountered
in ten samples taken from areas within the
Strait and at the northern entrance to the Strait.
There are variations in these sediments from
one sample to another, and, to a degree, within
each sample; consequently it is advisable to
describe, not average properties, but rather,
the range of properties. On the basis of visual
inspection, the sediments range from grey to
brown and contain shell fragments and traces
of plant fibres. Samples 3 116 and 3104 contained irregular inclusions of sand and fine
gravel up to 5 cm thick, believed to be infilled
marine animal burrows. On the basis of plasticity indices ranging from 15 to 32, and corresponding liquid limits ranging from 40 to
65, as shown in Fig. 4, the soils are classified
as ranging from inorganic clays of medium
plasticity, and organic silts, to organic clays of
medium to high plasticity. The natural water
content in all cases exceeds the liquid limit,
yielding liquidity indices in the range 1.0 to

LlOUlD LIMIT,

FIG.4.

W,

Plasticity chart.

1.37, and sensitivities measured by undisturbed


and remolded cone tests lie in the range 4 to 8.
Grain size analyses show that the samples contain approximately 25 % clay (equivalent diameter less than 2 pm).
The sediment properties which are of direct
engineering interest are those relating to the
strength and compressibility of the fine-grained
sediments. Undrained shear strengths, S,,, have
been measured by laboratory fall cone tests,
triaxial compression tests, and by in situ shear
vane tests. The results are shown in Tables 2
and 3 and in Figs. 5 and 8.
The triaxial tests are generally used to obtain
the effective stress strength parameters, 'effective cohesion' and 'effective angle of shearing
resistance', as well as to study other behavioral
TABLE2. Summary of shear vane
tests

Depth
(cm)

PO
(kN/mZ)

su
(kN/m2)

BROWN AND RASHID: CANS0 STRAIT SEDIMENTS

CAN. GEOTECH. J. VOL. 12, 1975

AXIAL STRAIN, El

(%I

FIG.5. Typical triaxial test results.

characteristics. In the present case the number


of suitable samples was insufficient to permit
a comprehensive study of the effective stress
parameters. The triaxial tests performed did,
however, give some information on rheological
behavior, and pore water pressure behavior.
All the triaxial tests were consolidated under
very low stresses, less than the preconsolidation
pressure, PC, prior to shear. The magnitudes of
pore pressure measured during shear are indicated by the pore pressure coefficient, A*, which
lies in the range 0.23-0.44. The rheological
aspect of shear strength is expressed by the

strain rate coefficient, p,%hich was found to


be in the range 11-16% in the tests. The
significance of these measurements is discussed
in the next section.
The consolidation characteristics have been
measured by one-dimensional consolidation
tests, carried out on nine specimens. The results
are given in Table 4, and in Figs. 6-8. Consolidation behavior is characterized by the apZ P = AT/(A log d7,,.,4; where T = f ( o , - 03), d = axial
strain rate, and 70.6 = 7 at t = 0.6% per hour, interpolated
from the test results.

5G

3>

TABLE
4. Summary o f consolidation tests

Test No.

Depth
(cm)

(%)

eo

3101-C1
3101-C2
3101-C3
3104-C1
3104-C2
3104-C3
3123-C1
3123-C2
3124-Cl

36
42
48
43
63
87
64
86
13

42.4
50.3
50.8
68.2
65.9
64.4
54.2
59.0
65.1

1.18
1.35
1.45
1.84
1.78
1.74
1.71
1.84
1.76

'After test.

wo

Po
PC
(g/cm3) (kN/m2) (kN/m2)
?'to

1.78
1.71
1.68
1.60
1.61
1.62
1.63
1.58
1.63

2.5
2.9
3.3
3.5
4.8
6.3
5.2
6.9
0.8

21
20
33
15
31
29
15
15
10

C,
0.27
0.37
0.44
0.54
0.63
0.60
0.49
0.61
0.50

Su
(kN/rnZ)l
55.9
39.2
58.9
31 .O
36.3
32.4
26.5
28.4
63.8

Organic
IVL

WP

39.6
47.0
45.6
62.8
64.6
64.8
53.5
53.0
43 .O

24.7
29.2
29.2
31.2
35.4
37.3
30.0
30.7
23.8

su/pmax
0.14
0.11
0.16
0.08
0.10
0.10
0.22
0.22
0.18

pelPo

(%)

8.4
6.9
10.0
4.3
6.9
4.6
2.9
2.2
12.7

1.397
1.775

1.789
1.926
1.183

2
a
Z
~1
-i

5G

$
m

El

Bt3

CAN. GEOTECH. J . VOL. 12. 1975

10

10
CONSOLIDATION

1000

100

CONSOLIDATION

PRESSURE (kN/rnZ)

100
PRESSURE

1000

(k~/rn')

10

100

1000

CONSOLIDATION PRESSURE ( k ~ / r n ~ )
FIG. 6. Void ratio versus consolidation pressure.

BROWN AND RASHID: C A N S 0 STRAIT SEDIMENTS


I

3101-CI

t3104-CI

3123-Cl

CONSOLIDATION PRESSURE (kN/rn2)

CONSOLIDATION PRESSURE (kN/rn2)

FIG.7 . Coefficient of consolidation, c, and coefficient of secondary compression, ,c,


consolidation pressure.

parent prcconsolidation pressurc, PC, just beyond the point of maximum curvature of the
consolidation curve (according to Casagrandc's
construction) the slope, C,., of the linear portion of the curve at pressures greater than P,.;
the coefficient of primary consolidation, c,,
which dctermines the rate at which consolidaticn will ~roceed:and the coefficient of sccondary compression c,, which relates to compression due to creep. The significance of the
results is discussed in the following section.
The geochemical and mincralo$cal analyses
pcrl'orrned on these samplcs have some bearing
on the investigation. Organic carbon contents
determined on Lcco Carbon Analyzer Model
WR12 are given in Table 5. X-ray diffraction
analyses carried out on a Phillips X-ray defractcmeter on san~plesfrom cores 3 10 1, 3 133, and
3 124 showed chlorite and illite present, but no
kaolinitc. The ratio of chlorite to illite was in
the range 0.70 to 1.0, with the average being
0.79. Analyses of the major cations in the pore
water. obtained by ccntrifuge, are given in
Table 6. In general, the pore water showed
amounts of Mgi-, Ca+ +, and Nai- ions which
are normal for-sea water with a slightly higher
concentration of K+ ions.

t8erats

Discussion
The gravelly sands encountered in the upper
1 m of sediments taken from areas in Chedabucto Bay, near Eddy Point in the Strait of
Canso, and in the northern part of the Strait
of Canso are unique in terms of their rather
low bulk densities. They are otherwise characteristic of this type of sediment found in other
similar depositional environments.
The fine to medium sands found in the sediments collectcd from the northern part of
Chedabucto Bay, as well as in some of the
layers in the sediments located near shore along
the industrialized portions of the Strait of
Canso, exhibit low bulk densities and uniform
grain size distribution. They should be considered susceptible to liquefaction under vibration or shock.
The test results reported above for the clayey
silts and silty clays, hereafter referred to simply
as 'clay', show that the undrained shear strength
generally increases with depth, with laboratory
values in the range 0.7-15.3 kN/m2. The sediments are, thcrefore, classed as very soft to
soft, and may be compared to other published
data for sediments from deeper waters. Bryant
et nl. (1972) analyzed a large number of

54

CAN. GEOTECH. J. VOL. 12, 1975

TABLE5. Distribution of organic carbon and total


organic matter in cores collected in Canso Strait
and Chedabucto Bay areas

Core
No.

Depth
(cm)

Organic
carbon (%)

Organic
matter
(g/100 g)

known relationship,
(Terzaghi and Peck 1967) would lie between
0.20 and 0.50.
The rate of secondary compression c,, in
the virgin consolidation region, is related to C,
by
c, = (0.065

samples from the Gulf of Mexico and noted a


wide variety in shear strengths ranging from
0.5 to 15 kN/ma. For deep sea sediments taken
from locations in the Atlantic and Pacific
Oceans, Richards and Hamilton ( 1967) report
shear strengths ranging from 2 to 10 kN/m2.
These are about the same range of values as
obtained from the Strait of Canso cores.
The in situ vane tests gave values which
were generally lower than the laboratory tests,
ranging from 4.6 to 8.9 kN/m2. This is at
variance with results published by Richards et
01. (1972) on sediments of the Wilkinson Basin
in the Gulf of Maine. At penetration depths of
0.6 to 1.2 m, their in situ vane tests gave an
average value of 4.10 kN/m2. Their laboratory
tests on core samples indicated an average
shear strength of 2.77 kN/m" which is just
two-thirds of the vane test results they obtained.
With regard to compressibility, the clays are
somewhat more compressible than usual in the
virgin consolidation region (corresponding to
stresses greater than P . ) . The measured values
of C,. lie between 0.27 and 0.63 whereas the
corresponding values according to the well

c,
+ 0.01) 1 + e,

which again is somewhat higher than relationships given by Ladd (1971). It is believed
that this behavior is attributable to the presence
of organic compounds.
Closer inspection of the results indicates
several behavioral characteristics of interest. It
would be reasonable to assume that these nearsurface sediments are not of great age (in fact,
a glass chip and a piece of leather strap were
encountered in two of the samples), and that
they would be described as 'young' clays as
defined by Bjerrum (1972). Such a clay, deposited with a flocculated structure, will have
just come to equilibrium under its own weight.
It is characterized by the fact that it is just
able to carry the overburden stresses, and any
increase in stress will result in relatively large
strains, or shear failure for small increases in
shear stress.
In the present case, the soils exhibit a reserve
TABLE
6.

Cores

Major cation analyses of interstitial water


Na
Mg
( P . P . ~ . ) (p.p.rn.)

Ca
K
(p.p.rn.1 ( P . P . ~ . )

3122- 0- 2'
3- 5
14-16
20-22
35-37
52-54
58-60
68-70
3 125- 0- 2
8-10
18-20
28-30
38-40
2532- 02
-19
Std. CHSW3
'Core levels are indicated as interval in centimeters from t o p of core.
2Water samples taken a t 0 and 19 m.
'Standard Copenhagen sea water with chlorinity o f 19.3705 parts
per thousand and salinity o f 35.00 Darts oer thousand.

BROWN AND RASHID: CANS0 STRAIT SEDIMENTS


UNDRAINED SHEAR STRENGTH,
S,, ( k N / r n 2 )

APPARENT PRECONSOLIDATION
PRESSURE, P, ( kN/rn2)

FIG. 8. Strength and apparent preconsolidation pressure versus in situ effective overburden

pressure.

resistance to stresses applied in excess of the


in situ stresses. As an example, the ratio of
undrained shcar strength to existing overburden
pressure, S,,/P,, lies in the range 1.0 to 5.0,
as shown in Fig. 8, whereas, for a recent normally consolidated marine sediment, the ratio
should lie in the range 0.17 to 0.23. (Bjerrum
and Simons 1960). Therefore the sediments
are stronger than would be expected; however,
they are still classed as 'very soft' to 'soft' based
on the absolute values of the shear strengths
obtained (Terzaghi and Peck 1967). Similarly,
the ratio of apparent preconsolidation pressure
to existing overburden pressure, P,/P,], lies in
the range 2 to 10, whereas in a recently deposited sediment the ratio would be 1.O.
Based on the above findings, the clays would
be described as 'overconsolidated'. This term
implies the existence of reserve resistance as
mentioned above. The low values of pore pressure measured in the triaxial tests are consistent
with this description.
This property of reserve resistance or overconsolidation is generally due to three processes: preloading by overburden which has
since been eroded, secondary compression,
and/or chemical alteration.
In the present case, preloading should result

in the difference (P,. - P,,) being constant with


depth. Such a trend does not appear to be
evident, and it is concluded that preloading
does not appear to be a factor.
It is well known that clays exhibit various
degrees of time-dependent strain behavior,
which will result in secondary compression. In
the present case, this is evidenced both by the
strain rate coefficient, p, and the rate of seconare of
dary compression, c,. The values of
the same order of magnitude as found for the
plastic Bangkok clay, which is near the upper
limit of observed time-dependent behavior.
However, the values of c, plotted in Fig. 7
are, in the stress range above PC, not exceptionally high in comparison with results reported in the literature (e.g. Lambe and Whitman 1969; Ladd 1971). Although in theory
it may be possible to predict PJP, directly
from c, (Ladd 1971) the solution requires
extremely difficult assumptions in this case. An
alternative approach is provided by the study
of secondary compression made by Bjerrum
( 1972). Based on the range of plasticity indices
found for the Canso clays, and the correlations
provided by Bjerrum, it is estimated that secondary compression alone could result in PJP,
being 1.5 to 1.7, and S,,/P, being 0.35 to 0.4.

56

CAN. GEOTECH. J. VOL. 12. 1975

Clearly, this process would contribute to the


observed reserve resistance, but would not account for all of it.
It is therefore tentatively concluded that the
clays also possess properties which are due to
chemical alteration. This is a complex subject,
and it was not explored intensively in the
present series of t e s t s . T h e clay minerals are
chlorite and illite, and in clays of similar mineralogy elsewhere, organic acids have been
found to attack the minerals and release iron,
aluminum and other ions which in turn are
precipitated to act as cementing agents. In
addition, the clays may be strengthened by
exchange of adsorbed cations. In the present
tests, the measurements of total organic content
indicate that it is high enough to have some
effect, but do not provide sufficient correlation
between organic content and the reserve resistance which would enable a quantitative assessment of the effect to be made. Likewise, the
concentrations of principal cations in the pore
water do not give any indication that the clay
has been altered by cation exchange. The
slightly higher than normal occurrence of potassium is not believed to be significant.
Other investigators (Bryant et al. 1967;
Richards and Hamilton 1967) have found a
similar behavior in near-surface sediments taken
from deeper waters, with P J P , > 1.0, and
S,,/P, greater than usual. Richards and Hamilton report P,/P, ratios from 1.1 to 11, average
3.7, and S,,/P, ratios ranging from 0.4 to 2.8.
They have also attributed the apparent overconsolidation chiefly to chemical alteration.

Summary and Conclusions


Several undisturbed sediment cores of high
quality extending to a depth of 1 m were obtained from the Strait of Canso and Chedabucto
Bay for detailed laboratory investigations. At
both ends of the Strait and in the northern part
of Chedabucto Bay the dominant sediments
were loose gravelly sand or fine to medium
sand. Silt and clay appeared to dominate within
the Strait.
The gravelly sands did not exhibit unusual
characteristics. However the fine to medium
!Studies to investigate this possibility are currently
being made.

sand appears to be susceptible to liquefaction


under vibration or shock.
The clays were found to be stronger and
stiffer than normally expected of recently deposited sediments. This is probably due to
chemical alteration, although rheological or
preloading processes may contribute. Due to
the presence of organic matter these sediments
are more compressible than would be predicted.
The profound regional and stratigraphic variability of sediment types and their geotechnical
properties in the Strait of Canso area precludes
the extrapolation of both in situ and laboratory
data to a regional assessment of engineering
implications. If, however, the few samples
studied are representative of the range of possible characteristics which might be expected
in a coastal inlet of this type, it is clearly indicated that detailed survevs
in
, will be reauired
1
order to evaluate the potential use of the
natural sediments for future industrial developments.

Acknowledgments
The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Mr. K. R. Robertson, who carried out
many of the laboratory tests, and Dr. G. G.
Meyerhof, Dr. H. G. Sherwood, and Mr. D. E.
Buckley who reviewed the manuscript. Part of
the laboratory work was carried ot; with the
help of a National Research Council of Canada
operating grant.
BUCKLEY,
D. E., OWENS,E. H., SCHAFER,
C. T., VILKS,
F. J.
G., CRANSTON,
R. E., RASHID,M. A., WAGNER,
E., and WALKER,D. A. 1974. Canso Strait and
Chedabucto Bay: A multidisciplinary study of the impact of man on the marine environment. Geol. Surv.
Can., Pap. 74-30, Vol. 1.
BJERRUM,L. 1972. Embankments on soft ground.
A.S.C.E., Proc. Spec. Conf. Perform. Earth Earth
Supported Struct., Purdue Univ., Lafayette, Ind., 2
pp. 1-54.
BJERRUM,L., and SIMONS,N. E. 1960. Comparison of
shear strength characteristics of normally consolidated clays. R o c . Res. Conf. Shear Strength Cohesive Soils. A.S.C.E., Boulder, Colo., pp. 71 1-726.
P., and MORELOCK,J. 1967.
BRYANT,W. R., CERNOCK,
Shear strength and consolidation characteristics of
marine sediments from the western Gulf of Mexico. I n
Marine geotechnique. Edited by Richards, A. F. Univ.
Illinois Press, Urbana, Ill., pp. 41-62.
L. J., and CARPENTER,
S . H.
BRYANT,W. R., THOMPSON,
1972. Properties of marine sediments as related to
penetration. Contribution No. 493, Texas A & M
Univ., College of Geoscience, College Station, Texas.
LADD,C. C. 1971. Settlement analyses for cohesive soils.

BROWN AND RASHID: CANS0 STRAIT SEDIMENTS

Mass. Inst. Tech., Special Summer Program 1.34s.


pp. 56-68.
LAMBE, T. W., and WHITMAN,R. V. 1969. Soil
mechanics. John Wiley and Sons, New York, N.Y., p.
420.
RICHARDS,
A. F., and HAMILTON,
E. L. 1967. Investigations of deep-sea sediment cores. 111. Consolidation.
I n Marine geotechnique. Edited by Richards, A. F.
Univ. Illinois Press, Urbana, Ill., pp. 93-117.
RICHARDS,
A. F., MCDONALD,V. J., OLSEN,P. E., and
KELLER,G. H. 1972. In place measurement of deepsea soil shear strength. A.S.T.M. Spec. Publ. 501, pp.
55-68.
RICHARDS,
A. F., and PARKER,
H. W. 1967. Surface coring
for shear strength measurements. A.S.C.E., Proc.
Conf. Civ. Eng. Oceans, San Francisco, pp. 445435.
TERZAGHI,
K., and PECK,R. B. 1967. Soil mechanics in
engineering practice. 2nd ed. John Wiley and Sons,
New York. N.Y.

Appendix - Notation and Definitions


Some of the terms used in this paper, although available in standard soil mechanics
texts, are not familiar to all readers and, in
some cases, geological usage of terms differs
from enginecring usage. The following definitions are intended to clarify the meaning of
these terms.
Consolidation: the process of volume change
due to the expulsion of water from the voids
of a soil when subjected to external stresses.
A soil is said to be consolidated under a given
:et of strescs when the stresses are carried only
by the soil skeleton, and not by the pore water.
Relative density: descriptive range of soil
density, or bulk unit weight, ranging from
'very loose', corresponding to the maximum
porosity which a given soil can attain, to 'very
dense', corresponding to the minimum porosity
which that same soil can attain.
Sensitivity: the ratio of thc undisturbed
strength to the completely remolded strength.
Uniform: having the majority of grains within
a narrow size range.
Wcll graded: having grains normally distributed over a wide range of sizes.
A f = ratio of pore pressure, u, to deviator
stress (ul - u3), at failure in the undrained
triaxial comuression
test.
1
C, = compression index, the slope of the
void ratio versus log consolidation stress curve
in the consolidation test = Ae/ ( A log P ) .

57

c, = coefficient of consolidation, a function


of the time required for consolidation, and the
soil drainage conditions.
c, = coefficient of secondary compression,
the slope of the last portion of the vertical strain
versus log time curve for each load increment
in the consolidation test.
e = void ratio =
(volume of voids) /(volume of solids).
I , = plasticity index = W I , - w,.
o = subscript referring to original or in situ
state.
P,, = in situ effective overburden stress. Effective stress is that which produces shear and
deformation of the soil skeleton, and is equal to
the difference between total stress and pore
water stress.
P, = effective preconsolidation pressure, determined from one-dimensional consolidation
test results.
S,, = undrained shear strength.
u = pore water pressure.
U , = uniformity coefficient = Dso/Dlo.
D,;,,= 60% of particles are smaller than this
diameter.
Dlo = 10% of particles are smaller than this
diameter.
w = water content =
(weight of water) / (weight of solids).
w, = liquid limit, which is the water content
at which the soil is at the upper limit of the
plastic consistency range.
w,,= plastic limit, which is the water content
at the lower limit of the plastic consistency
range; below this value the soil is friable.
( A V / V ) ,= volumetric strain during consolidation.
y , = bulk density or total unit weight.
c1 = axial strain in the triaxial test.
il = axial strain rate.
p = strain rate coefficient =
AT/ ( A log 7to.e) )
where T , ( , , ~ ; ,= T at c = 0.6% per hour.
U, = consolidation pressure.
el - a:j = deviation stress or maximum principal stress, difference in the triaxial test.
T = maximum shear stress = 4 (a1 - as).