The Influence of Mixing Orders on the Microstructure of Artificially Prepared Sand-Clay Mixtures
Advances in Materials Science and Engineering
The mixing order of silica sand, clay (kaolinite), and water controls the microstructure of resulting artificial soil samples. Most homogeneous microstructures can be achieved by applying the mixing order "sand-water-clay." The following methods were used to validate this statement: (1) optical observation, (2) X-ray tomography, (3) scanning electron microscopy, and (4) Mercury intrusion porosimetry. For all samples, clays are mainly organized in a homogeneous matrix but are also dispersed
... ogeneously in micrometer-sized layers surrounding sand particles, particularly where sand grains show a greater roughness. At water contents ≥1.5 wL, the microstructures are visually similar from the mm to μm scale whatever mixing order is used. However, for water contents lower than 1.5 wL, the mixing order controls the distribution of the clay particles. This paper proposes a motivated choice of a preparation protocol of artificial clayey materials to be used in laboratory experiments. It might contribute to better understanding and modeling grain movements and arrangements in artificial muds, used for instance in underground mining, foundation settlement, hydraulic containment, road construction, soil stabilization, and in natural soils in the occurrence of soil liquefaction, industrial brick manufacturing, and in studying shear processes in tectonic fault zones.