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    Erosion of Unsaturated Clay in a Pinhole Test

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    An investigation was conducted to determine the influence of dry density and initial water content on the erosion of a compacted dispersive clay. The pinhole test developed by James Sherard and associates was used to model the erosion conditions which occur in earth dams. When the soil specimens, compacted to densities representative of standard and modified Proctor effort were eroded under a roughly constant erosional shear stress, it was found that a minimum amount of erosion occurred at a water content about 2 to 3 percent wet of optimum water content. It was also found that, at the same water content, the amount of erosion tended to decrease with an increase in the dry density. However, neither water content nor density strongly controlled the dispersiveness of the soil. A mechanism of erosion was suggested to account for the observed reactions.

    Also, it was found that the turbidity of the eroding water can be correlated with the concentration of suspended soil.


    clays, clay minerals, soil chemistry, soil classification, soil erosion, adsorbed water, cohesive soils, piping (erosion), soil compacting, soil mechanics, soil water, dispersions, water flow, erosion

    Author Information:

    Lewis, DA
    Staff geotechnical engineer, Raba & Associates, San Antonio, Tex.

    Schmidt, NO
    Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla, Rolla, Mo.

    Committee/Subcommittee: D18.02

    DOI: 10.1520/STP26992S