Publication Date

Winter 2-2013


Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering





First Page


Last Page



The objective of this study was to evaluate the chemical compatibility of model soil-bentonite backfills containing multiswellable bentonite (MSB) relative to that of similar backfills containing untreated sodium (Na) bentonite or a commercially available, contaminant resistant bentonite (SW101). Flexible-wall tests were conducted on consolidated backfill specimens (effective stress =34.5 kPa) containing clean sand and 4.5–5.7% bentonite (by dry weight) using tap water and calcium chloride (CaCl2) solutions (10–1,000 mM) as the permeant liquids. Final values of hydraulic conductivity (k) and intrinsic permeability (K) to the CaCl2 solutions were determined after achieving both short-term termination criteria as defined by ASTM D5084 and long-term termination criteria for chemical equilibrium between the influent and effluent. Specimens containing MSB exhibited the smallest increases in k and K upon permeation with a given CaCl2 solution relative to specimens containing untreated Na bentonite or SW101. However, none of the specimens exhibited more than a five-fold increase in k or K, regardless of CaCl2 concentration or bentonite type. Final k values for specimens permeated with a given CaCl2 solution after permeation with tap water were similar to those for specimens of the same backfill permeated with only the CaCl2 solution, indicating that the order of permeation had no significant effect on k. Also, final k values for all specimens were within a factor of two of the k measured after achieving the ASTM D5084 termination criteria. Thus, use of only the ASTM D5084 criteria would have been sufficient to obtain reasonable estimates of long-term hydraulic conductivity for the specimens in this study.