The present study examines the role of interparticle cementation in the collapse behavior of two partly saturated (Sr = 4 to 12%) and very highly porous (initial void ratio = 1.5 to 2) laboratory-desiccated clayey silt specimens containing varying amounts (5 and 15% by dry weight of the respective specimens) of the cementitious iron oxides hematite and goethite, which are generally encountered in tropical residual soils. Kaolinite is the representative clay mineral of the soil matrix used for this research.
Interparticle cementation by the crystalline iron oxides was generated in the laboratory by repeated (six times) wetting and drying of the iron-hydroxide-admixed clayey silt specimens under ambient conditions of temperature and humidity. Results showed that, for a given laboratory-desiccated clayey silt specimen (i.e., a specimen containing 5 or 15% of iron oxide on a dry weight basis), the amount of collapse (represented by Δϵ, the change in vertical strain upon wetting under constant pressure) increases with an increase in the experimental loading under which the specimen is inundated. The laboratory results also show that the desiccated specimen with a higher iron oxide content (containing 15% iron oxide by dry weight of the desiccated specimen) in spite of a lower dry unit weight (γd = 8.8 kN/m3) undergoes a lesser amount of collapse on soaking under a constant external stress (50 or 100 kPa) than the desiccated specimen with a lower iron oxide content (i.e., containing 5% iron oxide by dry weight of the desiccated specimen, γd = 10.4 kN/m3).
Based on the X-ray diffraction results and the stress-strain relationships obtained from isotropically consolidated undrained triaxial tests, it is suggested that the laboratory-desiccated specimens are characterized by a metastable bonding provided by capillary suction and the crystalline iron oxides. On soaking under load owing to the loss of the metastable bonding, collapse of the laboratory-desiccated specimens occurs. Also, in the case of the laboratory-desiccated specimen with a higher iron oxide content, the presence of a stronger interparticle cementation (due to a greater abundance of crystalline iron oxides) and a higher initial moisture content are considered responsible for the specimen exhibiting a lower amount of collapse in comparison to that exhibited by the desiccated specimen with a lesser iron oxide content.