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The effect of zeolite amendment for enhanced sorption capacity on the consolidation behavior and hydraulic conductivity, k, of a typical soil-bentonite (SB) backfill for vertical cutoff walls was evaluated via laboratory testing. The consolidation behavior and k of test specimens containing fine sand, 5.8 % (dry wt.) sodium bentonite, and 0, 2, 5, or 10 % (dry wt.) of one of three types of zeolite (clinoptilolite, chabazite-lower bed, or chabazite-upper bed) were measured using fixed-ring oedometers, and k also was measured on separate specimens using a flexible-wall permeameter. The results indicated that addition of a zeolite had little impact on either the consolidation behavior or the k of the backfill, regardless of the amount or type of zeolite. For example, the compression index, Cc, for the unamended backfill specimen was 0.24, whereas values of Cc for the zeolite amended specimens were in the range 0.19 ≤ Cc ≤ 0.23. Similarly, the k for the unamended specimen based on flexible-wall tests was 2.4 x 10-10 m/s, whereas values of k for zeolite amended specimens were in the range 1.2 x 10-10k ≤ 3.9 x 10-10 m/s. The results of the study suggest that enhancing the sorption capacity of typical SB backfills via zeolite amendment is not likely to have a significant effect on the consolidation behavior or k of the backfill, provided that the amount of zeolite added is small (≤ 10 %).


Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering





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Civil and Environmental Engineering