Effect of Concentration of Sphagnum Peat Moss on Strength of Binder-Treated Soil

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Virginia Tech


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.



Organic soil, soil mixing, deep mixing