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Stabilization of Dispersive Soil by Blending


Polymers
Article November 2010

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Sameer Vyas

Neelam Phougat

Central Soil And Materials Research Station

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52

International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering


ISSN 0974-5904, Volume 04, No 06 SPL, October 2011, pp 52-54

Stabilization of Dispersive Soil by Blending Polymers


Sameer Vyas
Research Assistant, Central Soil and Materials Research Station, New Delhi-16, Email: samyog78@yahoo.com

Neelam Phougat
Scientist C (I/C), Central Soil and Materials Research Station, New Delhi-16, Email: neelam@nic.in

Pankaj Sharma
Scientist C (I/C), Central Soil and Materials Research Station, New Delhi-16, Email: pan2256@gmail.com

Murari Ratnam
Director, Central Soil and Materials Research Station, New Delhi-16, Email: director-csmrs@nic.in

ABSTRACT: Dispersive soils are not suitable as foundation or fill material in the construction of hydraulic earth structures.
Predominance of dissolved Na+ instead of Ca2+ and Mg2+ in the pore water makes such clayey soils more susceptible to
erosion. When such soil mass is in contact even with still water the individual soil particles tend to get dispersed in it. This
happens because the repulsive forces developed between individual clay particles exceed weak Vander Waals forces of
attraction. Therefore it is mandatory to stabilize such soils either mechanically or chemically before using for any
construction purpose. Chemically these soils can be stabilized by addition of chemicals like lime, flyash, alum, molasses,
cement, bitumen or polymers etc. Polymers show remarkable soil stabilization effect because of formation of bond between
clay mineral and polar end groups of polymer. In the present study the dispersive soil obtained from Dundiya Dam, Udaipur,
Rajasthan, India has been stabilized using different polymers. The degree of improvement in the engineering properties of
such soil has been discussed in this paper.
KEYWORDS: Dispersive; Soil stabilization; Epoxy resin; Polyyrethene
INTRODUCTION
In the past, clay soils were considered to be highly resistant
to erosion by flowing water, however, in the last few years
we recognize that highly erodible clay soils exist in nature.
Some natural clay soils disperse or deflocculates in the
presence of relatively pure water and are, therefore, highly
susceptible to erosion and piping. The tendency for
dispersive erosion in a given soil depends on variables such
as mineralogy and chemistry of the clay, as well as
dissolved salts in the water in soil pores and in the eroding
water (Sherard and Decker, 1977). Such clays are eroded
rapidly by slow-moving water, even when compared to
cohesionless fine sands and silts. When dispersive clay soil
is immersed in water, the clay fraction behaves like singlegrained particles; that is, the clay particles have a minimum
of electrochemical attraction and fail to closely adhere to, or
bond with, other soil particles. Thus, dispersive clay soil
erodes in the presence of flowing water when individual
clay platelets are split off and carried away. Such erosion
may start in a drying crack, settlement crack, hydraulic
fracture crack, or other channel of high penneability in a soil
mass. Dispersive soils are clayey silty soils which are highly
susceptible to erosion. The dispersion occurs when the
repulsive forces between individual clay particles exceed the
attractive forces (Vander Waals attraction) so that when the
clay mass is even in contact with still water individual clay
particles are progressively detached from the surface & go
into suspension. The principal difference between dispersive
clays and ordinary erosion resistant clays appears to be the
nature of the cations in the pore water of the clay mass.
Dispersive clays have a preponderance of sodium cations,
whereas ordinary clays have a preponderance of calcium,

potassium, and magnesium cations in the pore water.


Dispersive soils are not suitable as foundation material or as
fill material in the construction of hydraulic earth structures.
Using dispersive clay soils in hydraulic structures,
embankment dams, or other structures such as canal lining,
roadway embankments can cause serious engineering
problems if these soils are not identified and used
appropriately. This problem is worldwide, and structural
failures attributed to dispersive soils have occurred in many
countries.
BACKGROUND HISTORY
Dispersive clay phenomena were first noted by agronomists
over 100 years ago and their basic nature was fairly well
understood by soil scientists and agricultural engineers
nearly 50 years ago, but the importance of the subject in
civil engineering practice was not recognized until the early
1960's when research on piping failure in earth dams due to
dispersive clay behavior was initiated in Australia because
of many failures of small clay dams. Since that time, many
investigations have been performed to refine procedures for
identifying dispersive clays, because they cannot be
identified by the conventional laboratory index tests such as
visual classification, gradation, specific gravity, or Atterberg
limits. Observations show there can be great differences in
erodeability in materials with identical visual appearance
and index properties when the samples are taken from
locations only a few feet apart. Most studies reported in the
literature have shown that failures of structures built of
dispersive clay soils occurred on first wetting. All failures
were associated with the presence of water and cracking by

#020410113 Copyright 2011 CAFET-INNOVA TECHNICAL SOCIETY. All rights reserved

Stabilization of Dispersive Soil by Blending Polymers

53

shrinkage, differential settlement, or construction


deficiencies. These failures emphasize the importance of
early recognition and identification of dispersive clay soils;
otherwise, the problems they cause can result in sudden,
irreversible, and catastrophic failures. Therefore a
comprehensive investigation is required about identification
of dispersive soil before using for construction purposes. It
includes soil classification, its mineralogy, Index properties
and Dispersive characteristics tests. If problems encountered
in the letter stages then proper treatment procedures can be
adopted for improvement in the soil engineering properties
using different soil stabilization procedures.
Dispersive soil is stabilized either mechanically or
chemically. Chemically stabilization is done by addition of
chemicals like lime, fly ash, alum, molasses, cement,
bitumen, and polymers etc. These chemicals improve
engineering properties of soil by forming bond with clay
minerals present in the soil. Polymers are reported to show
remarkable soil stabilization effect because of formation of
bond between clay mineral and polar end groups of
polymer. It was observed during various studies that the
addition of polymer to soil improves bonding between
adjacent aggregates leading to their stabilization and clay
flocculation. In this paper, effect of some polymers on
stabilization of dispersive soil obtained from Dundiya dam,
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India is being discussed.
EXPERIMENTAL
Dispersivity of soil sample obtained from Dundiya dam was
checked by crumb test and by pore water extract test.
Crumb Test:
It is a preliminary field test for which the soil crumb is
placed in water and the degree of muddiness of water give
an indication of dispersivity of soil. Crumb test indicate the
dispersive nature of soil sample obtained from Dundiya
dam.
Pore Water Extract Test:
Soil passing through 425 sieve is mixed with distilled
water to a consistency near to liquid limit which is referred
to as saturated soil paste. The paste is allowed to stand
overnight so that equilibrium is attained between the salts in
pore water and exchangeable cations. A small quantity of
pore water is extracted from the soil paste using a vacuum
pump. Concentration of sodium and potassium in pore water
is determined by flame photometer and concentration of
calcium and magnesium is determined by EDTA titration.
As shown in figure 1, percent sodium concentration versus
total dissolved salt concentration is plotted. As the value for
sample obtained from Dundiya dam, Udaipur falls in Zone
A, so the soil sample is dispersive.

FIG 1 Plot showing percent sodium & total dissolved salts


in pore water extract.
METHODOLOGY
To stabilization of dispersive soil (obtained from Dundiya
dam, Udaipur) 0.5 % and 1 % polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and
urea formaldehyde (UFR), 0.5% polyurethene (PU) and
epoxy resin (ER) and 1 % styrene butadiene rubber latex
were added to the soil sample. Mechanical analysis of
polymer treated soil was done to measure the improvement
in soil aggregation and atterbergs limit was tested to get
information concerning cohesion properties of the soil. For
mechanical analysis and atterbergs limit test, chemicals
were added to 4.75 mm and 425 micron passing soil
samples, respectively. To compare the effect of polymer
with conventional soil stablizer 1.0% of sodium aluminate,
calcium aluminate and calcium hydroxide were added to the
dispersive soil sample and mechanical analysis was done
and index properties were evaluated.
OBSERVATIONS
It was found that in comparison to untreated soil,
chemically treated soil have higher percentage of larger
aggregates and liquid limit (LL), plastic limit (PL) and
Plasticity Index (PI) of chemically treated soil sample is
decreasing. It is also seen that as concentration of polymer
is increased the value of LL, PL and PI of soil sample is
decreasing and percentage of larger aggregate is increasing.
It was found that effect of polymer was comparable to that
of conventional soil stabilizer such as calcium hydroxide.
Above study indicate that chemicals used are effective in
binding soil particles and on wetting of soil by water it will
soften to a lesser extent thus making it more suitable for
construction of road or lining of dam.

International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering


ISSN 0974-5904, Volume 04, No 06 SPL, October 2011, pp 52-54

54

Sameer Vyas, Neelam Phougat, Pankaj Sharma, Murari Ratnam

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


Table 1 and 2 shows the result of mechanical analysis and
atterberg limit of untreated and polymer treated soil
samples, respectively.
Table 1 : Result of Mechanical Analysis of soil samples
mixed with chemicals

REFERENCES

Percent by weight

Untreated soil
0.5% PVA
1.0% PVA
0.5 % UFR
1.0 % UFR
0.5 % ER
1.0% ER
0.5 % PU
1.0 % PU
0.5 % SBR
1.0% SBR

CONCLUSION
From the above result it is clear that on adding polymer
aggregate size of soil is increasing thus the polymer used
for above study are effective in binding soil particles.
Lowering of LL, PL and PI indicate that on wetting of soil
by rain water it will soften to a lesser extent thus making it
more suitable for construction of road or lining of dam.

0.002
mm
&
Less

0.002
to
0.075
mm

0.075
to
0.425
mm

0.425
to
2.0
mm

2.0
to
4.75
mm

6.2
14.1
8.8
9.7
11.8
8.6
5.1
12.6
10.5
5.7
7.5

56.2
44.2
48.1
46.9
41.1
47.5
47.2
44.5
44.8
38.4
39.9

26.2
27.7
27.1
26.0
31.9
26.2
24.8
31.1
32.2
36.4
37.6

9.1
10.9
12.1
14.4
11.6
15.4
17.4
8.4
8.5
14.8
10.3

2.3
3.1
3.9
3.0
3.6
2.3
5.5
3.8
4.0
4.7
4.7

Table 2: Atterbergs Limit values of soil samples mixed


with polymers.
Liquid
Plastic
Plasticity
Limit
Limit
Index
Untreated soil
28.3
13.7
14.6
0.5 % PVA
32.2
26.8
5.4
1.0 % PVA
27.8
24.1
3.7
0.5 % UFR
26.6
13.8
12.8
1.0 % UFR
25.5
13.4
12.2
0.5 % ER
26.6
17.4
9.2
1.0 % ER
20.7
16.2
4.5
0.5 % PU
20.2
15.0
5.2
1.0 % PU
19.4
14.8
4.6
0.5 % SBR
18.5
14.9
3.6
1.0 % SBR
18.8
15.3
3.5
decreasing, thus improving its resistance to softening effect
of water. It is also seen that as concentration of polymer is
increased LL, PL and PI of soil sample is decreasing. In
comparison to other polymers used for this study, in case of
UFR, increase in percentage of larger aggregates and
reduction in PI of soil is not remarkable. Among all the
polymers used for this study, Epoxy resin and PVA are
showing remarkable improvement in engineering properties
of the soil.

[1] Bourdeaux, G, and Imaizumi, H , ASTM, STP 623, J.L.


[2] Sherad and R.S.Decker, Eds,(1977) pp 13-24.
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[4] Gay, Geoffrey and Schand Herman Waste disposal
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Journal (2000), 11, pp 19-31.
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[10] Tanaka, Kazuyuki and Tani, Kensuke Soil stabilizing
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[11] Venkatachalam, K., Bera, D. N., Parashar, R.K.,
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[12] William, et al Use of synthetic polymers and
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International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering


ISSN 0974-5904, Volume 04, No 06 SPL, October 2011, pp 52-54