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This study examines the individual particles comprising a typical deep-sea calcareous clay as a means of explaining their unique engineering properties and compression behavior. The scanning electron microscope is used to determine calcareous particle geometry, size, and packing, and the effect of one-dimensional compression on microstructure and particle fracture. The sediments examined in this study have carbonate contents of 40 to 90 percent, including 5 to 10 percent of sand-sized Foraminifera, the remainder being fine, silt-sized nannofossils. The Foraminifera and nannofossils are hollow and capable of storing large quantities of intraparticle water. When subjected to moderate compression stresses, the Foraminifera particles are susceptable to fracture and release intraparticle water, whereas the nannofossils exhibit minor fracturing or chipping at particle contact points. Carbonate contents should be routinely performed as an index property on deep-sea sediment specimens to determine the presence of hollow nannofossil and foram particles.
behavior, calcium carbonate, marine sediments, mechanical properties, microfossils, microstructure, soil mechanics, soil water
Associate professor, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn.