Effect of Concentration of Sphagnum Peat Moss on Strength of Binder-Treated Soil
Bennett, Michael Dever
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Organic soils are formed as deceased plant and animal wildlife is deposited and decomposed in wet environs. These soils have loose structures, low undrained strengths, and high natural water contents, and require improvement before they can be used as foundation materials. Previous researchers have found that the deep mixing method effectively improves organic soils. This study presents a quantitative and reliable method for predicting the strength of one organic soil treated with deep mixing. For this thesis, organic soils were manufactured from commercially available components. Soil-binder mixture specimens with different values of organic matter content, OM, binder content, water-to-binder ratio, and curing time were tested for unconfined compressive strength (UCS). Least-squares regression was used to fit a predictive equation, modified from the findings of previous researchers, to this data. The equation estimates the UCS of a deep-mixed organic soil specimen using its total water-to-binder ratio and mixture dry unit weight. Soil OM is incorporated into the equation as a threshold binder content, aT, required to improve a soil with a given OM; the aT term is used to calculate an effective total water-to-binder ratio. This thesis reached several important conclusions. The modified equation was successfully fitted to the data, meaning that the UCS of some organic soil-binder mixtures may be predicted in the same manner as that of inorganic soil-binder mixtures. The fitting coefficients from the predictive equations indicated that for the soils and binder tested, specimens of organic soil-binder mixtures have a greater relative gain of UCS immediately after mixing compared to specimens of inorganic soil-binder mixtures. However, the inorganic mixtures generally have a greater relative gain of UCS during the curing period. The influence of curing temperature was found to be similar for organic and inorganic mixtures. For the organic soils and binder tested in this research, aT may be expressed as a linear or power function of OM. For both functions, the value of aT was negligible at values of OM below 45%, which reflects the chemistry of the organic matter in the peat moss. For projects involving deep mixing of organic soils, the predictive equation will be used most effectively by fitting it to the results of bench-scale testing and then checking it against the results of field-scale testing.
General Audience Abstract
Organic soils are formed continuously as matter from deceased organisms – mainly plants – is deposited in wet environs and decomposes. Organic soils are most commonly found in swamps, marshes, and coastal areas. These soils make poor foundation materials due to their low strengths. Deep mixing, or soil mixing, involves introducing a binder like Portland cement or lime into soil and blending the soil and binder together to form columns or blocks. Upon mixing, cementitious reactions occur, and the soil-binder mixture gains strength as it cures. Deep mixing may be performed using either a dry binder, known as dry mixing, or a binder-water slurry, referred to as wet mixing. Deep mixing may be used to treat either inorganic or organic soils to depths of 30 meters or greater. Contractor experience has shown that deep mixing is one of the most effective methods of improving the strength of organic soils. Lab-scale studies (by previous researchers) of wet mixing of inorganic soils have found that the strength of soil-binder mixtures can be expressed as a function of mixture curing time and curing temperature, as well as the quantity of binder used, or binder factor, and the consistency of the binder slurry. No corresponding expression has been generated for wet mixing of organic soils, although many studies on the subject have been performed by previous researchers. The goal of this research was to generate such an expression for one organic soil. The soil used was made of sphagnum peat moss, an organic material commonly found in nature, and an inorganic clay used by previous researchers in studies of deep mixing in inorganic soils. The binder used in this research was a Portland cement. For this research, 43 unique soil-binder mixtures were manufactured. Each mixture involved a unique combination of soil organic matter content, binder factor, and binder slurry consistency. After a soil-binder mixture was made, it was divided, placed into cylindrical molds, and allowed to cure. The temperature of the curing environment of the mixture was monitored. Mixture compressive strength was assessed after 7, 14, and 28 days of curing using two cylindrically molded specimens of the mixture. Data on mixture strength was then evaluated to assess whether it could be expressed as a function of the variables tested. iv This research determined that the strength of at least some organic soils improved with wet mixing can be expressed as a function of soil organic matter content, binder factor, binder slurry consistency, and mixture curing time and curing temperature. The function will likely prove useful to deep mixing contractors, who routinely perform lab-scale deep mixing trials on samples of the soils to be improved in the field. Assuming wet mixing is used, the results of the trials are used to select values of binder factor and binder slurry consistency for the project. The function generated from this research will allow deep mixing contractors to select these values more reliably during the lab-scale phase of their work.
- Masters Theses