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Geoderma 285 (2017) 270279

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Treatment of dispersive clay soil by ZELIAC

Amir Hossein Vakili a,b, Mohamad Razip bin Selamat a,, Hamidi Bin Abdul Aziz a, Amin Mojiri c,
Zakiah Ahmad c, Marjan Safarzadeh d
School of Civil Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 14300 Nibong Tebal, Penang, Malaysia
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Zand Institute of Higher Education, Shiraz, Iran
Institute for Infrastructure Engineering and Sustainable Management (IIESM), Universiti Teknologi Mara, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
School of Materials and Mineral Resources Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 14300 Nibong Tebal, Penang, Malaysia

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Dispersive clays are prone to erosion and could cause signicant problems in geotechnical and geo-environmen-
Received 23 February 2016 tal projects. In this research, a new additive - the ZELIAC was investigated for treating a Malaysian dispersive
Received in revised form 1 September 2016 clay soil where an appreciable decrease in dispersivity was achieved due to treatment with 8% ZELIAC. The curing
Accepted 11 October 2016
time was found to be signicant that after 28 days, the initially dispersive samples became non-dispersive. Fur-
Available online 18 October 2016
thermore, due to the treatment, the samples had increased unconned compressive strength (UCS), permeabil-
ity, and optimum moisture content; and decreased nes content, plasticity index, maximum dry density, and
Soil stabilization compressibility index. The UCS increased nearly 7.3 times for sample treated with 8% ZELIAC and cured for
Dispersive clay 90 days. The X-ray uorescence (XRF) results showed a cementitious structure with calcium content 10.8
Geotechnical properties times more in the treated sample than in the untreated one, reecting the constructive cation exchange reaction
ZELIAC taking place during the curing process. The sodium ion was noticeably replaced by calcium ion which resulted in
Curing time a decreased thickness of the diffused double layer and the subsequent reduction in the dispersivity of the sample.
These results were also reected by the lower peak intensity as measured by the X-ray diffraction test (XRD) for
the treated sample, as compared to the higher peak intensity for the un-treated sample. Finally, the SEM images
indicate that the occulated structures of the treated dispersive clay were surrounded by the ZELIAC particles.
Thus, the ZELIAC was proven to be effective in improving the studied Malaysian dispersive clay.
2016 Published by Elsevier B.V.

1. Introduction and valence of the absorbed ions. Reducing the thickness of the diffuse
double layers could lower the repulsive forces through increase in elec-
The existence of dispersive clay soils in construction projects has led trolyte concentration and thus increase in valence of the absorbed ions
to failure incidents throughout the world affecting earth dams, embank- (Ouhadi et al., 2012; Fell et al., 2010; Ouhadi and Goodarzi, 2006).
ments, irrigation canals, roads, township infrastructures, and other geo- Specic verication tests for dispersivity such as the pinhole test, the
technical and geo-environmental structures (Goodarzi and Salimi, crumb test, the double hydrometer test, and certain chemical tests are
2015; Savas, 2015; Vakili et al., 2015b; Vakili and Selamat, 2014; carried out in order to determine the laboratory and eld properties, be-
Ouhadi and Goodarzi, 2006; Gutierrez et al., 2003; Indraratna et al., fore any treatment can be prescribed (Umesh et al., 2011; Burns and
1991, 2012; Paige-Green, 2008; Nevels, 1993). In dispersive clays, Ghataora, 2007). The geotechnical properties of a soil in a project can
under saturated conditions, the repulsive forces are greater than the at- generally be improved by adding chemical stabilizer such as lime, ce-
tractive forces which cause the individual soil particles to segregate and ment, alum, y ash, sarooj, and wood ash (Vakili et al., 2013a, 2013b,
detach from a soil mass and move in suspension, thus causing weak- 2013c, 2015a; Pakbaz and Alipour, 2012; Seco et al., 2011; Horpibulsuk
nesses in the bonds (Umesh et al., 2011; Paige-Green, 2008; Burns and et al., 2011; Okagbue, 2007; Al-Rawas et al., 2005; Indraratna et al.,
Ghataora, 2007; Nevels, 1993; Arulanandan and Heinzen, 1977). The re- 1991, 1995). The geotechnical improvements that have been achieved
pulsive forces are associated with the thick diffused double layers of the by means of the above additives were associated with the more granular
clay, which in turn was brought by the low electrolyte concentration structures, the lower plasticity, the higher permeability, the lower expan-
sivity, and the greater compressive strength of the resulting product
(Seco et al., 2011; Yong and Ouhadi, 2007). Furthermore, the curing
time has been found to be a signicant factor where better results have
Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (A.H. Vakili),
been achieved with its increase (Tan et al., 2002). The geotechnical char-
(M.R. Selamat), (H.B.A. Aziz), (A. Mojiri), acteristics of stabilized soils were also inuenced by the soil-additive and (Z. Ahmad), (M. Safarzadeh). the water-additive ratios (Lee et al., 2005a). The chemical stabilization
0016-7061/ 2016 Published by Elsevier B.V.
A.H. Vakili et al. / Geoderma 285 (2017) 270279 271

methods solve the mechanical problems as well as the dispersivity prob- mentioned advantages. In addition, the raw ZELIAC ingredients are be-
lems of the dispersive soil (Vakili et al., 2015a; Vinod et al., 2010). lieved to be abundantly available throughout the world that applying
In any soil stabilization project, the sustainability and non-hazard- them would be economical and sensible. Thus, the main aim of this
ous nature of the additive have to be ensured (Indraratna et al., 2012; study was to evaluate the change in the fundamental geotechnical prop-
Vinod et al., 2010; Karol, 2003; Shulga et al., 2001). In this regard, the erties of the ZELIAC treated, Malaysian dispersive soil.
ZELIAC should be qualied as it is a non-hazardous composite material
produced using naturally existing low-cost ingredients such as zeolite, 2. Materials and methods
activated carbon, and calcium carbonate. These materials improve the
cementing properties and have been used to reduce the cement content 2.1. Dispersive clay sample
in a composite (Mojiri et al., 2014a, 2014b). ZELIAC as a treatment ma-
terial has also been found effective in removing heavy metals and or- The dispersive clay sample was obtained from Batu Gajah, Malaysia.
ganic pollutants from landll leachate and waste water (Mojiri et al., The particle size distribution (PSD) of Fig. 1a shows that the soil consists
2014a, 2014b, 2016). In addition to the environmental advantage, the of 13% sand, 42% silt, and 45% clay. The liquid limit, plastic limit, and
ZELIAC is also a stabilizer that does not require further preparation plasticity index were determined as 63%, 29%, and 34%, respectively. Ac-
after the factory production phase. cording to the Unied Soil Classication System (USCS), the soil was
Although the potential of ZELIAC in treating the wastewater and high plasticity clay or CH. Based on the double hydrometer test (DHT)
landll leachates has been well documented, its applicability in treating results, the soil was considered as belonging to the high dispersivity cat-
problematic soils has not been proclaimed. Thus in this research, the egory, as given in Fig. 1a. Based on the pinhole test results, the soil was
ZELIAC was introduced as the new soil stabilizer with the above- classied as D1 on the dispersivity scale of the ASTM D 4647 (2000c),

a b

c d

b) Sample treated with ZELIAC

a) Sample cured with distilled water

Fig. 1. a: PSD and DHT curves of the untreated dispersive clay sample. b: Deviator stress against axial strain of the untreated dispersive clay sample. c: Void ratio against applied pressure of
the untreated dispersive clay sample. d: Micro-features of the untreated dispersive clay sample. e: XRD analysis of dispersive clay sample a) cured with distilled water and b) treated with
272 A.H. Vakili et al. / Geoderma 285 (2017) 270279

reecting the high dispersivity potential of the soil samples. Its maxi- Table 2
mum dry density and optimum moisture content were 1.7 g/cm3 and Chemical compositions of the ZELIAC.

20%, respectively. Its UCS based on tests on reconstituted sample Compounds/elements Composition (%)
compacted to the maximum dry density was 124.3 kPa; the related C 14.350
axial strain versus deviator stress is given in Fig. 1b. Its permeability co- CaO 32.401
efcient, determined from a consolidation test was 7.6 109 cm/s; the SiO2 42.002
related compression curve is given in Fig. 1c. The low permeability and Al2O3 7.300
Fe2O3 1.502
the low initial void ratio of 0.87 determined from the tests were in line
K2O 1.005
with the high dispersivity nature of the sample (Ouhadi and Goodarzi, MgO 1.000
2006; Raine and Loch, 2003; Rengasamy et al., 1984). The specic grav- Na2O 0.100
ity (Gs) of the soil was 2.81. P2O5 0.030
The chemical compositions of the untreated clay sample were mea- SO3 0.030
Others 0.280
sured based on the X-ray uorescence (XRF) test and are given in Table
1. The sample was predominated by silica at 40% and alumina at 48%,
matching its high clay content (Castro-Fresno et al., 2011). The Na con-
tent was signicant at 4.84% reecting the highly dispersive nature of reected by the properties of the ingredients; the specic surface area
the sample; dispersive soils are clayey soils with sodium ions control- of a composite adsorbent is normally greater than of a single material.
ling (Umesh et al., 2011; Zorluer et al., 2010). Therefore, the dispersive Therefore, due to having the properties of multiple materials, the ZELIAC
clay soil had the proper potential to produce the pozzolanic reactions should be considered superior in performance. Portland cement pro-
when mixed with materials with calcium content such as the ZELIAC. vides the necessary binder to hold together the various components in
The SEM test result of the dispersive clay sample is given in Fig. 1d. ZELIAC; carbon increases the specic surface area of a particle; lime-
The XRD test result of the dispersive clay sample cured with distilled stone and zeolite enhance adherence and cohesion. ZELIAC is non-haz-
water is given in Fig. 1e. ardous and environmental friendly which renders it preferable over
other stabilizers such as lime or cement. ZELIAC removes organic pollut-
2.2. ZELIAC ants thus remedies polluted soils. Finally, the ingredients are mostly
The ZELIAC is considered a new stabilizer in treating dispersive clay A photo of the material is given in Fig. 2a while its micro-features
although it has been used to treat soils in general. It consists of zeolite, given in Fig. 2b. Its morphological and structural properties were ob-
activated carbon, limestone, rice husk ash, and Portland cement tained from the SEM test. In the procedure leading to the clay soil treat-
(Mojiri et al., 2014a). The chemical compositions of the ZELIAC prepared ment, the ZELIAC was ground into powder and then passed through
for this study based on the XRF analysis are given in Table 2 where its sieve No. 100. This process was done to obtain adequate ne grained
main metallic oxides are Ca, Si, and Al. Generally, this stabilizer is con- particles required for the appropriate reactions with the clays. The GS
sidered as non-hazardous and environmental friendly, thus qualifying of the ZELIAC was 2.41.
the rst test of a suitable additive.
To prepare the ZELIAC, zeolite, activated carbon, limestone, rice husk 2.3. Sample preparation and methodology
ash, and Portland cement were pulverized, passed through the 300 m
mesh sieve and then thoroughly mixed with each other. After the addi- The dispersive clay specimens were initially oven dried for 24 h,
tion of water, the homogeneous mixture was then poured into the ground into powder, let passed through the 2 mm sieve, and for each
mould. After 24 h, the chunk was taken out and soaked in water for batch, thoroughly mixed with the prescribed amount of ZELIAC. Water
three days for the curing process. After allowing the material to dry was added and the ingredients were brought to a uniform mix. The
for two days, it was crushed and passed through a sieve (Mojiri et al., test amounts of the ZELIAC were 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10% of the soil dry
2014a). mass. The test curing times were 1, 3, 7, 14, 28, and 90 days. All samples
Note that the ZELIAC additive has been used for quite some time al- were prepared based on the compaction test manual on natural disper-
ready in stabilizing landll leachate and treating wastewater. In addi- sive soil of the ASTM D 698-91 (2000d). During curing the samples were
tion, ZELIAC, which is a composite adsorbent has also been found kept in plastic containers to prevent loss of moisture. An un-stabilized
capable of removing metals of a polluted site (Mojiri et al., 2014a, and uncured clay sample was also prepared as control. In each case,
2014b, 2016). Generally, the properties of a composite adsorbent are the water contents were varied around 20% of the total mass of soil

Table 1
Chemical compositions of the untreated dispersive sample collected for the current study and the dispersive sample treated with 8% ZELIAC.

Formula Concentration (treated sample) Concentration (untreated sample) Formula Concentration (treated sample) Concentration (untreated sample)

Al 52.54% 42.90% Al2O3 48.55% 48.38%

Si 25.39% 40.28% SiO2 41.06% 40.35%
Ca 6.38% 0.59% CaO 2.94% 0.30%
Fe 6.88% 5.30% Fe2O3 2.60% 2.59%
Na 1.27% 4.84% Na2O 0.97% 4.65%
Ti 3.16% 2.70% TiO2 1.63% 1.65%
K 1.94% 1.48% K2O 0.78% 0.69%
Mg 0.77% 0.56% MgO 0.64% 0.57%
P 0.29% 0.23% P2O5 0.21% 0.21%
Cl 0.10% 0.21% Cl 0.03% 0.09%
S 0.14% 0.04% SO3 0.12% 0.05%
Ce 0.12% 0.16% CeO2 0.09% 0.07%
Zr 0.20% 0.16% ZrO2 0.07% 0.07%
V 0.07% 0.07% V2O5 0.05% 0.06%
Mn 0.09% 0.06% MnO 0.03% 0.03%
Pb 0.08% 0.06% PbO 0.02% 0.02%
Zn 0.07% 0.06% ZnO 0.02% 0.02%
A.H. Vakili et al. / Geoderma 285 (2017) 270279 273

more reliable than other dispersive soil verication tests since it simu-
lates directly the concentration leakage and the dispersivity of a clay
soil as water ows through a small hole through the specimen
(Richards and Reddy, 2007; Zorluer et al., 2010). The pinhole test was
carried out according to method A of ASTM D 4647 (2000c). Three
criteria were carefully evaluated in the procedure, i.e., pinhole erosion
rate, cloudiness and turbidity of ow, and nal ow rate. Consequently,
each soil was categorized as one out of six possible appointments on the
dispersivity scale. Classes D1 and D2 are for soils that are dispersive and
susceptible to erosion. Classes ND1 and ND2 are for soils that are non-
dispersive and therefore not susceptible to erosion. Soils of moderate
dispersivity are classied as either ND3 or ND4.
The effects of various ZELIAC contents and curing times on the me-
chanical behaviour of dispersive clays were investigated by performing
the UCS tests. In preparing the specimens for the UCS tests, samples that
were stabilized with various ZELIAC contents were each wrapped with a
plastic sheet and kept in a container for 24 h to allow reactions to take
place in the mixtures. Prior to the compaction, each sample was
mixed again thoroughly and placed in a cylindrical mould of 37 mm di-
ameter and 75 mm height. Note that the prepared samples were
compacted inside the cylindrical mould in 3 layers and the compaction
effort used for each layer was as much as the required energy to achieve
the maximum dry density of the samples at their optimum moisture
contents. The maximum dry density and the optimum moisture content
for each mix were determined from the water content versus dry den-
sity curve of the standard proctor test. After extracting a sample from
the mould, to prevent loss of moisture content, it was wrapped in air-
tight high quality plastic bags and cured for a specied period such as
1 day, 3 days, 7 days, 28 days, and 90 days. In determining the UCS,
for each curing time and given percentage of ZELIAC, three samples
were prepared using the optimum moisture content determined from
Fig. 2. a: Photos of the ZELIAC used in the study. b: Micro-features of the ZELIAC used in the the prior compaction tests, and the UCS test was repeated three times
under the same conditions to investigate the repeatability and validity
of the obtained results. The average value of each group of three samples
plus ZELIAC, which was the optimum water content corresponding to was considered the UCS. The results for the three samples were found
the maximum dry density when no ZELIAC was used. generally reproducible and the standard deviation was low enough.
The geotechnical tests or analyses carried out on the mixed speci- The applied axial deformation rate in the UCS tests was 1 mm/min.
mens were the PSD according to ASTM D 422 (2000a), the double hy- To evaluate the microstructure due to the stabilization, the SEM test
drometer according to ASTM D 4221 (2000b), the pinhole according results were examined and in this case, the results obtained for the un-
to ASTM D 4647 (2000c), the Atterberg limits according to ASTM D stabilized and stabilized samples were compared against each other. Fi-
4318 (2000f), the standard compaction according to ASTM D 698 nally, changes in the mineralogical and chemical compositions of the
(2000d), the unconned compression according to ASTM D 2166 treated samples were determined by the results of the XRF and XRD
(2000e), and the consolidation according to BS 1377 (2000). tests.
The PSD and the Atterberg limits of a soil together are required in the
procedure of classifying soil (Ouhadi and Goodarzi, 2006). On the other 3. Results and discussions
hand, the behaviour of the ne grained soil is governed more by its plas-
ticity from the Atterberg limits only (Mitchell, 1993). For the ZELIAC 3.1. Effect of ZELIAC on dispersivity of soil samples
treated samples, the plasticity of the soil could provide appropriate in-
formation in terms of its workability, resistance, and permeability. The dispersivity of treated samples with various ZELIAC contents by
In accordance with ASTM D 698-91 (2000d), the compaction tests dry mass of the soil and curing times are given in Fig. 3a. The dispersivity
were performed to determine the effect of ZELIAC on the maximum decreased signicantly with increasing ZELIAC content up to the 8%
dry density of the treated soil and the optimum moisture content. To mark; thereafter the trend reversed with the dispersivity increased
come up with the compaction results of the treated soil, the compaction with increasing ZELIAC content. The dispersivity also decreased signi-
curve was generated with at least ve compaction points. Furthermore, cantly with increasing curing time and there was no optimum number
consolidation tests were also performed on the mixes with the opti- of curing days up to the 90 day mark. The sample had a dispersion po-
mum moisture content in order to evaluate the compressibility and de- tential of 23% when treated with 8% ZELIAC and cured for 28 days, and
termine the permeability of the samples. From the consolidation test 11% when cured for 90 days, indicating a signicant reduction in
results, the compression curve was plotted and thereafter the compres- dispersivity. For any curing time, the maximum reduction in
sion index was determined for each soil sample. dispersivity was achieved with 8% ZELIAC, therefore this is the ZELIAC
To determine the dispersivity of the collected samples before and xation point. Table 3a presents the dispersivity classication of the
during the stabilization process the double hydrometer tests were car- treated soil based on the Sherard and Decker (1977) criteria. The initial-
ried out in accordance with ASTM D 4221-99 (2000b). Thereafter, the ly dispersive samples became non-dispersive due to the addition of 6 or
dispersion percent of each prepared sample was determined and the 8% ZELIAC and 28 days of curing. On the other hand, a 2% ZELIAC was in-
dispersivity category was appointed based on the criteria of Sherard sufcient in improving the erosion resistance of the soil. In addition, it
and Decker (1977). To further evaluate the stabilization process, the can be concluded that the samples have become non-dispersive when
pinhole test was carried out for each curing time. The pinhole test is there was a sufcient curing time given in the treatment.
274 A.H. Vakili et al. / Geoderma 285 (2017) 270279

Table 3b
Classication based on the pinhole test results of dispersive samples treated with various
ZELIAC contents.

Curing times (day)

Additive 1 3 7 14 28 90

Z 2% D2 D2 ND3 ND3 ND3 ND3

Z 4% D2 D2 ND3 ND3 ND3 ND2
Z 6% ND4 ND3 ND3 ND3 ND3 ND2
Z 8% ND3 ND3 ND3 ND3 ND2 ND1
Z 10% ND3 ND3 ND3 ND3 ND2 ND1

Note: Z = ZELIAC; D1, D2 = dispersive; ND3, ND4 = intermediate; ND1, ND2 = non-

reduction in the thickness of the double layers that the additive has

3.2. Effect of ZELIAC on PSD of soil samples

The nes content generally decreased due to the ZELIAC treatment,

as given in Fig. 4. The nes content also decreased with additional curing
time, but the decrease was only slightly when the curing time went be-
yond the 28-day mark. The change in PSD due to agglomeration of soil
particles brought by the additives in the cases of lime, cement, and var-
ious types of ashes has been reported by many researchers
(Horpibulsuk et al., 2011; Osula, 1991; Ola, 1977, 1978; Akoto and
Singh, 1981). In other words, a reduction in the nes content could be
attributed to the coagulation phenomenon, which causes the agglomer-
ation of the soil particles (Okagbue, 2007). The cation exchange, occu-
lation, and agglomeration are the most important reactions that take
place between a chemical additive and a clay soil, as stated by Mallela
Fig. 3. a: Variation of percent dispersion of the dispersive clay treated with various ZELIAC
contents against different curing times. b: Variation of nal ow rate of the dispersive clay
et al. (2004). By analogy with other chemical additive-clay systems, it
treated with various ZELIAC contents against different curing times. could be that the same reactions were responsible for the reduction of
the ne particles of the dispersive clay due to ZELIAC treatment.
Generally, by cation exchange reaction; the lower valence cations
In the pinhole tests, the results were recorded in terms of cloudiness such as Na+, are replaced by higher valence cations such as Si2 +,
of ow, nal ow rate, and erosion rate of the hole created in samples, Ca2 +, and Al3 + (Mallela et al., 2004). A decrease in the thickness of
with given hydraulic head. The summary of results and categorization the diffused double layers of the clay is a signicant consequent of cat-
of treated specimens are given in Table 3b. The use of 4% ZELIAC with ion exchange (Okagbue, 2007). Thereby, by reduction in the size of a
90 days of curing time has changed the designation of sample from D1 double layer, the clay particles are allowed to approach closely with
to ND2. The use of 8% ZELIAC with 28 days of curing time has changed each other, or occulate and agglomerate. Ultimately, the gradation of
the designation of sample from D1 to ND2, and with 90 days of curing the clay is altered by the reactions because by agglomeration of the par-
the designation has changed to ND1. The results of pinhole tests carried ticles, the structure and the texture of the clay are changed and the oc-
out on samples stabilized with ZELIAC, in terms of nal ow rates, with culation forms the larger- sized aggregates when particles clump
various curing times are given in Fig. 3b. As indicated in Fig. 3b, the op- together (Terrel et al., 1979).
timum ZELIAC contents corresponding to the lowest ow rates were 8%.
However, the optimum curing time for the optimum ZELIAC content 3.3. Effect of ZELIAC on plasticity of samples
was 28 days. The ow rates, however, decreased further with increasing
curing time. Thus, the results of pinhole test clearly demonstrate that Fig. 5 shows the change in plasticity index of treated samples with
even 4% ZELIAC was sufcient to improve the dispersivity characteristic varying ZELIAC content and curing time. The plasticity indexes (PI) of
and erosion resistance but the process required 90 days of curing.
Generally speaking, the ZELIAC caused a change in soil fabric from a
de-occulated structure to a more occulated one. The reduction in
dispersivity of the treated soil by the ZELIAC could be attributed to the

Table 3a
Classication based on the double hydrometer test results of dispersive samples treated
with various ZELIAC contents.

Curing times (day)

Additive 1 3 7 14 28 90

Z 2% D D D D D I
Z 4% D D D D I ND
Z 6% D D I I ND ND
Z 8% D D I I ND ND
Z 10% D D I I ND ND
Fig. 4. Variation of nes content of the dispersive clay treated with various ZELIAC contents
Note: Z = ZELIAC; D = dispersive; I = intermediate; ND = non-dispersive. against different curing times.
A.H. Vakili et al. / Geoderma 285 (2017) 270279 275

Fig. 5. Variation of plasticity index of the dispersive clay treated with various ZELIAC
contents against different curing times.

the treated samples reduced signicantly with increasing ZELIAC con-

tent as well as curing time. The PI decreased with increasing ZELIAC con-
tent up to the 8% mark, thereafter, it remained constant or changed only
slightly, implying that the maximum adsorption capacity of the Si++,
Ca++, or Al+++ by the dispersive clay occurs at 8% ZELIAC.
The decreasing PI caused by the chemical treatment is a benecial
and desirable change for the treated clay which could lead to improved
workability due to the soil becoming more friable (Okagbue, 2007;
Mallela et al., 2004). Note that the cation exchange, occulation, ag-
glomeration, and pozzolanic reactions are all bringing improvement to
the engineering properties of the treated soil. The benet of having a de- Fig. 6. a: Variation of MDD of the dispersive clay treated with various ZELIAC contents
creased plasticity with increasing cation valence or electrolyte concen- against different curing times. b: Variation of OMC of the dispersive clay treated with
various ZELIAC contents against different curing times.
tration has been described by various authors (Falamaki et al., 2008;
Lee et al., 2005b; Mallela et al., 2004).
The plasticity index is highly affected by the inter-particle forces al- For the soil treated with 8% ZELIAC, the Gs after 7 days of curing, at 2.66,
though it cannot identify the dispersivity characteristics due to lack of is quite reasonable.
uniqueness it has shown in the presence of dispersive soils (Gutierrez
et al., 2003; Sherard et al., 1976). Anyway, a decrease of the plasticity
should be a good indicator in identifying the reduction in dispersivity 3.5. Effect of ZELIAC on compression characteristics of treated samples
of the clays in the stabilization periods. By following this conception,
the addition of ZELIAC to the dispersive soil might have altered the The ZELIAC treatment has improved the compressibility characteris-
forces between particles during the curing time in such a way that tics of the dispersive soil. The compressibility index (Cc) reduced signif-
with any change of soil property from being dispersive to being non-dis- icantly with increasing ZELIAC content, again up to the 8% mark, as
persive, the repulsive forces decrease and in turn the attractive forces given in Fig. 7a. The reduced Cc indicates the tendency to resist com-
increase; the result is thus an increase in resistance between surfaces, pression. The improved resistance to compression could be attributed
and a decrease in plasticity index. to the occulation and agglomeration of the treated clay particles. In ad-
Furthermore, the addition of cementing agent to the clay soils might dition, the cation exchange reaction played a substantial role in this case
have caused particle aggregation, thus reducing the associated surface by which more occulated fabric was produced with the replacement of
areas, and a reduction of the plasticity of the soils, as described by Rao sodium content by calcium content (Nalbantoglu and Tuncer, 2001).
et al. (1989). Similar descriptions have been given by researchers in The effect of ZELIAC in improving the compressibility of the soils is com-
evaluating the results of mixing soils with lime, cement, or wood ash parable to the behaviour of lime-stabilized clays (Rao and Shivananda,
(Okagbue, 2007; Bell, 1989, 2002; Muntohar and Hantoro, 2000). 2005; Nalbantoglu and Tuncer, 2001). The results could also be veried
by the previous discussion whereby the addition of ZELIAC was said to
have induced the desirable reduction in soil plasticity.
3.4. Effect of ZELIAC on compaction characteristics of treated samples The permeability coefcients were calculated based on the results
obtained from the compression tests described above. As given in Fig.
The change in maximum dry density (MDD) and optimum moisture 7b, under the same applied pressure, the permeability increased with
content (OMC) with various ZELIAC contents and curing times respec- increasing ZELIAC content up to the 8% mark. The soil permeability is
tively are given in Fig. 6a and b. The MDD decreased with increasing governed by the physico-chemical properties of both soil and soil pore
ZELIAC content and curing time, up to the 28 day mark, after which water (Ouhadi and Goodarzi, 2006). The occulation and agglomeration
the change became negligible. Also, the OMC increased with increasing of the treated clay particles may explain the increase in permeability co-
ZELIAC content up to the 8% mark. These trends - decrease in the MDD efcient by which the soil becomes more granular and in turn a more
and increase in the OMC - were similar to other reports on clayey soils open fabric is created, resulting in increased ow of water through it.
treated with cement or lime (Horpibulsuk et al., 2011; Mallela et al., This implication is in agreement with the earlier comments made on
2004). the effect of treatment to the PSD whereby the ne fraction of the treat-
The decrease in the MDD can be associated with the lower specic ed sample decreased with increasing ZELIAC content and curing time.
gravity of solid (Gs) of the ZELIAC, at 2.41, in comparison to the Gs of The increase in permeability of the treated soil samples could be corre-
soil, at 2.81, where some soil was replaced by ZELIAC for a given volume. lated to the change in soil structure from being dispersed to being
276 A.H. Vakili et al. / Geoderma 285 (2017) 270279

increase in strength was relatively low. Between 28 and 90 days, the in-
crease in UCS was signicant which might have been caused by the long
term pozzolanic reactions (Tastan et al., 2011; Okagbue, 2007). In gen-
eral, the rate of strength increment was more related to the curing
time than to the ZELIAC content. Eqs. (1) and (2) show that the im-
provement in mechanical properties of soil treated with chemical addi-
tives is due to the formation of calcium silicate hydrates (CSH) and
calcium aluminate hydrates (CAH) as the cementing compounds com-
ing from the pozzolanic reactions (Seco et al., 2011; Yong and Ouhadi,

Ca2 2OH SiO2 CSH 1

Ca2 2OH Al2 O3 CAH 2

Furthermore, the above Equations show that the pozzolanic reac-

tions could continue as long as there are adequate sources of silica
(SiO2), alumina (Al2O3), and calcium content in the soil-additive envi-
ronment (Vakili et al., 2013b; Mallela et al., 2004). It is worthy to note
that, to provide the solubility of the silica and alumina, the system re-
quires a high pH value and the pozzolanic reactions will continue as
long as the pH of the system is sufciently high (Okagbue, 2007; Little,
1987). In this study, the X-ray uorescence (XRF) test results revealed
that the silica and the alumina contents of the untreated dispersive
soil were 40.35% and 48.38%, respectively, while the calcium content
of the ZELIAC was 32.40%. Therefore, the dispersive soil had the proper
potential to produce the cementitious material coming from the pozzo-
Fig. 7. a: Variation of compression index of the treated dispersive clay against different
lanic reactions when mixed with sources of calcium content such as the
ZELIAC contents. b: Variation of permeability coefcient of the treated dispersive clay ZELIAC.
against different ZELIAC contents. Irrespective of the dispersivity, the results of Fig. 8 clearly show that
the highest mechanical strength was achieved through the use of 8 or
occulated; the clay was changed from being dispersive to being non- 10% ZELIAC content with 90 days of curing time. However, the results
dispersive due to the treatment. of Fig. 3 clearly demonstrate that the dispersivity is a signicant factor
in terms of selecting the optimum ZELIAC content which was 8%. Conse-
3.6. Effect of ZELIAC treatment on the unconned compressive strength quently, it becomes necessary to consider both, the resistance to erosion
and the mechanical strength, in choosing the optimum additive content
The effects of treatment with various ZELIAC contents and curing in a treatment.
times were examined by carrying out the unconned compressive The curing methods were found to have considerable effects on UCS
strength (UCS) tests the results of which are given in Fig. 8. The 8% of treated soils (Rao and Shivananda, 2005). Soaking is known to cause a
ZELIAC treatment enhanced the UCS value from 124 kPa initially to dramatic decrease in strength of soils (Umesh et al., 2009). In other
405 kPa after 28 days of curing, and 910 kPa after 90 days of curing. words, dispersive soils are clayey soils which rapidly de-occulate in
For any given curing time, the strengths of samples treated with differ- water and thus possess very low strength when submerged (Umesh
ent ZELIAC contents did not differ much although the ones with more et al., 2009; Paige-Green, 2008). To investigate the capability of ZELIAC
additives were higher in resistance. The strength development against in retaining the strength of dispersive clay soil, samples treated with
curing time can be divided into three zones or phases. Between zero ZELIAC were soaked in water for 1, 3, and 7 days, thereafter were sub-
and 14 days, the gradual increase in strength can be related to the hy- jected to UCS tests. The results were compared with those of the un-
dration reaction which increased sample resistance in short term treated soils, as given in Fig. 9. The untreated dispersive samples were
(Tastan et al., 2011). Between 14 and 28 days, the total and daily found to have very low strengths even after 1 day of soaking. For all
samples provided, the UCS decreased with increasing soaking time.
The 2% ZELIAC treatments were also found showing very little effects
in the results. However, for the samples treated with 8% ZELIAC, the
Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3

Fig. 8. Variation of UCS of the dispersive clay treated with various ZELIAC contents against Fig. 9. Variation of UCS of the dispersive clay treated with various ZELIAC contents against
different curing times. soaking times.
A.H. Vakili et al. / Geoderma 285 (2017) 270279 277

strength after 1 day of soaking was 2.71 times the strength of the un- the fact that the peak intensity decreased with decreasing dispersivity
treated sample, and after 7 days of soaking, the strength increased to and thickness of the double layer (Ouhadi et al., 2012). In other words,
3.12 times. Thus, the effect of having optimum ZELIAC content was con- this result could be seen as parallel to the fact that the highest peak in-
siderable in retaining the strength of the dispersive clay. These results tensity occurs at the highest turbidity as well as at the highest
again verify that the 8% ZELIAC treatment can be considered as good dispersivity (Ouhadi et al., 2007, 2012). Thus, due to the reduction in
as any that could be offered by other stabilizers, and for dispersive the thickness of a double layer, the occulated structure generated by
soils, these current results are particularly outstanding. a decrease in repulsive forces usually shows low peak intensity
(Ouhadi et al., 2012). Subsequently, soil aggregation took place through
3.7. Effect of ZELIAC on micro-features and chemical compositions of soil the formation of occulated structures.
samples The dispersivity behaviour of a dispersive soil is known to be attrib-
uted to the mineral and total dissolved salts content of the eroding
The behaviour of a soil is signicantly inuenced by its mineralogical water and the pore water (Goodarzi and Salimi, 2015; Premkumar et
composition (Incl et al., 2003). The chemical compositions of the disper- al., 2015; Vakili et al., 2013c; Ouhadi et al., 2012; Sherard and Decker,
sive clay sample treated by 8% ZELIAC are as given in Table 1. The ZELIAC 1977; Penner and Lagaly, 2001). These soils are signicantly rich in so-
has caused a substantial decrease in Na content of the dispersive clay. dium ions and as a consequence the internal structures making up the
The 1.27% Na content of the treated clay sample was 3.8 times lesser soils are quite unstable (Umesh et al., 2011; Zorluer et al., 2010). Disper-
than that of the untreated clay. The Ca content of the treated sample sive clay minerals have signicant amounts of exchangeable sodium
was 10.8 times higher than that of the untreated clay, reecting the con- ions (Zorluer et al., 2010; Arulanandan and Heinzen, 1977) and the dis-
structive cation exchange reaction by which the Na+ was noticeably re- persion and cracking potentials get enhanced in a Na-rich environment
placed by Ca2+ resulting in the decrease in the thickness of the diffuse (Gutierrez et al., 2003). Clays containing sodium montmorillonite have
double layer and the subsequent reduction in dispersivity of the soil the highest dispersivity when compared with other soils containing ka-
sample. The results indicate the strong effect ZELIAC has had in modify- olinite or halloysite (Fell et al., 2010; Nevels, 1993).
ing the dispersive clay. It can be said that the dispersivity of the ZELIAC-stabilized samples
The erosion resistance and the mechanical strength of the clay treat- was reduced due to the formation of more stable particle clusters
ed by ZELIAC should have increased as indicated by the formation of ag- through electrostatic, occulation, and agglomeration reactions. In an
gregates. Previous researchers demonstrated that silica could act electrostatic reaction, the negative charges of the surface of a clay min-
effectively as a soil cementing agent (Meneses et al., 2007). Silica parti- eral reduce, nevertheless the ionic bonding between the clay and the
cles cover clay particles, resulting in aggregation of clay particles positively charged ZELIAC particles remains strong. In other words, the
(Castro-Fresno et al., 2011). Thus, the XRF test results strongly support stabilization factors have brought about a signicant increase in attrac-
the ndings of the current research regarding the application of ZELIAC tive forces and a decrease in repulsive forces between the individual
in improving dispersive clays bound for geotechnical construction sites. clay particles, resulting in a signicant reduction in the thickness of dif-
As illustrated in Fig. 10, the occulated structure was recorded from fused double layer and thus the dispersivity potential of the soil
SEM test carried out on the ZELIAC-stabilized dispersive clay whereby samples.
the clay particles have been surrounded by ZELIAC particles. When the Furthermore, the results described above were achieved based on
dispersive clay was mixed with ZELIAC, the calcium cation was released sample preparations carried out at laboratory temperature ranging be-
and the clay particles coagulated. Subsequently, pozzolanic reactions tween 25 C to 30 C, approximately. In the eld, the temperatures
took place and caused an increase in the strength of the treated soils could vary more than the given range, thus the reactions could be decel-
(Castro-Fresno et al., 2011; Boardman et al., 2001). As a consequence, erated in lower temperatures or accelerated in higher temperatures.
the pozzolanic links strengthened the attraction forces between clay Nevertheless, the results obtained in this study should be taken as to
particles (Godsey et al., 2007). Finally, the thickness of the diffused dou- correspond to the stated laboratory temperatures.
ble layer was reduced and the dispersivity behaviour of the clay parti-
cles decreased. 4. Conclusions
The above discussions and ndings were in agreement with the
measured peak intensity coming out of the X-ray diffraction test. As Dispersive soils could bring signicant problems in construction.
shown in Fig. 1e, a decrease in peak intensity was recorded due to addi- However, in this study, the dispersivity properties of a clay soil were
tion of 8% ZELIAC to dispersive clay sample. This result is consistent with successfully treated using the economical additive ZELIAC. The soil sam-
ple was initially classied as having a high dispersivity classication and
thus was considered inferior base material. Due to the interaction be-
tween the ZELIAC and the dispersive clay particles however, the disper-
sive properties were sufciently altered and the clay became an
acceptable ll material. The dispersive clay had a remarkable erosion re-
sistance as well as a signicant mechanical resistance after treatment.
The decrease in dispersivity was likely due to the cation exchange, oc-
culation, and agglomeration reaction where the soil fabric was altered
from a de-occulated state to the occulated one. Along with the re-
duced dispersivity, the soil also had a decreased amount of nes, maxi-
mum dry density, plasticity, and compressibility, and increased
optimum moisture content, permeability coefcient, and unconned
compressive strength. The curing method and time were found to be
signicant parameters of the stabilization process. The ZELIAC was
found not only capable of improving the properties of the dispersive
clay, but also non-hazardous in nature. The maximum reduction in
dispersivity, compressibility, and plasticity occurred at 8% ZELIAC con-
tent by mass; therefore, this was the xation point, where the maxi-
mum absorption capacity of the Ca2 + content by clay particles took
Fig. 10. Micro-features of the dispersive clay sample treated with 8% ZELIAC. place. The results also demonstrate that, other than the mechanical
278 A.H. Vakili et al. / Geoderma 285 (2017) 270279

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