Date of Thesis


Thesis Type

Masters Thesis

First Advisor

Michael A. Malusis


This study examined the chemical compatibility of several model soil-bentonite(SB) backfills with an inorganic salt solution (CaCl2). First, bentonite-water slurry was created using a natural sodium-bentonite, as well as two modified bentonites –multiswellable bentonite (MSB) and a “salt-resistant” bentonite (SW101). Once slurries that met typical construction specifications had been created using the various bentonites,the model SB backfills were prepared for each type of bentonite. These backfills werealso designed to meet conventional construction and design requirements. The SB backfills were then subjected to permeation with tap water and/or CaCl2 solutions of various concentrations in order to evaluate the compatibility of the SB backfills with inorganic chemicals. The results indicate that SB backfill experiences only minor compatibility issues (i.e., no large differences between the hydraulic conductivity of the SB backfill to tap water and CaCl2) compared to many other types of clay barriers. In addition, SB backfills show no major change in final hydraulic conductivity to CaCl2 when permeated with tap water before CaCl2 versus being permeated with CaCl2 directly. These results may be due to the ability of the bentonite in the SB backfills to undergo osmotic swelling before permeation begins, and the inability of the CaCl2 solutions to undo the osmotic swelling. Similar results were obtained for all three clays tested, and while MSB did show less compatibility issues than the natural bentonite and SW101, it appears that the differences in performance may generally be negligible. Overall, thisstudy makes a significant addition to the understanding of SB cutoff wall compatibility.