The effect of expanded shale lightweight aggregates on the hydraulic drainage properties of clays

Mechleb, Ghadi
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Fine grained soils, in particular clays of high plasticity, are known to have very low values of hydraulic conductivity. This low permeability causes several problems related to vegetation growth and stormwater runoff. One way to improve the permeability of clay soils is by using coarse aggregates as a fill material. Recently, Expanded Shale has been widely applied as an amendment to improve drainage properties of clayey soils. However, limited effort has been made to quantify the effect of Expanded Shale on the hydraulic conductivity or on the volume change of fine grained soils. Specifically, the field and laboratory tests required to quantify the amounts of Expanded Shale to be mixed with clays to obtain desired hydraulic conductivity values have not been conducted. This paper presents the results of a series of laboratory fixed-wall permeameter tests conducted on naturally occurring clay deposits in the Austin area with different plasticity. The testing program comprised of clay samples with different quantities of Expanded Shale aggregates by volume, ranging between 0 and 50%, and compacted at two different compaction efforts (60% and 100% of the standard Proctor compaction effort). The laboratory test results indicate that the hydraulic conductivity of the three soils increases by at least an order of magnitude when the Expanded Shale is mixed in quantities between 25 to 30% by volume depending on the compaction effort. Expanded Shale amended samples also showed lower swelling potential with increasing amendment quantities. Moreover, when the clay with the higher plasticity was mixed with 25% Expanded Shale, the compression and recompression ratios decreased by 25% and 15% respectively.