Singularities of Geotechnical Properties of Complex Soils in Seismic Regions

Volcanic activity results in a wide range of soil types with very unusual characteristics, the most remarkable of which are volcanic ash clays containing the clay minerals allophane and imogolite. In addition to these soils, volcanic activity often produces the special environmental conditions that result in the formation of diatomaceous soils, namely, water rich in dissolved silica. These soils consist of individual particles containing intraparticle voids filled with water, resulting in a very unique porous particle morphology that is quite different than stereotypical sedimentary soils. This paper presents a series of careful laboratory tests on samples of both materials found in Chile. These tests demonstrate that soils weathered from volcanic ash develop yield pressures that are similar to the preconsolidation pressure of sedimentary soils. This type of soil also shows a dramatic change in properties due to drying. In addition, diatomaceous soils and those containing allophane have very low densities, in spite of which they develop remarkably high shear strength. The need for their properties to be properly understood and taken into account in geotechnical design, especially seismic design, is emphasized, since the location of these soils generally coincides with earthquake activity, which, like volcanic activity, arises from tectonic plate interaction.


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  • Accession Number: 01105448
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 13 2008 8:00PM