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Applied Clay Science 123 (2016) 329334

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Applied Clay Science


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Effect of lime on stabilization of phyllite clays


Eduardo Garzn a, Manuel Cano a,, Brendan C. O`Kelly b, Pedro J. Snchez-Soto c
a
b
c

Department of Engineering, High Politechnic College, University of Almera, La Caada de San Urbano s/n, 04120 Almera, Spain
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Institute of Materials Science of Sevilla (ICMS), Joint Center of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and University of Sevilla (US), c/Amrico Vespucio 49, 41092-Sevilla, Spain

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 13 November 2015
Received in revised form 26 January 2016
Accepted 27 January 2016
Available online 3 February 2016
Keywords:
Phyllite clays
Lime
Compaction
Permeability
Plasticity
Road subgrade

a b s t r a c t
This paper represents a new advance in the study of engineering properties and material applications of phyllite
clays. Considering their potential use as construction materials for structures subjected to low stress levels, this
laboratory research investigated the stabilization and improvement in engineering properties of a Spanish
phyllite clay achieved by the addition of 3, 5 and 7 wt.% lime. Geotechnical properties investigated include the
consistency limits, compaction, California Bearing Ratio, swelling potential and water-permeability. The phyllite
claylime mixtures had good compaction properties and very to extremely low permeability-coefcient values,
with a semi-logarithmic correlation between increasing permeability and increasing proportion of lime additive.
The addition of 3 wt.% lime was sufcient to reach the index of capacity amble specied in the Sheet of Technical
General Prescriptions for Works of Roads and Bridges PG3 (Spanish Highways Agency, 2008), signicantly reducing the plasticity index value, with the compacted mixture undergoing no swelling under soakage. The required pavement thicknesses for the raw phylliteclay material and the phyllite claylime mixtures are
compared and discussed. Potential applications for phyllite claylime mixtures include for pavements/road subgrade, earth construction, building materials and for impermeabilization purposes.
2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Well established soil improvement and stabilization techniques for
clayey soils by the addition of cementing agents (e.g. lime, cement, asphalt, coal waste, ash, etc.) are often used to obtain engineering materials having superior properties/performance (Attom and Al-Shariff,
1998; Basha et al., 2005; Castro-Fresno et al., 2011; Di Sante et al.,
2014; George et al., 1992; Gidley and Sack, 1984; Kamon and
Nontananandh, 1991; Kolias et al., 2005; Miller and Azad, 2000;
Modarres and Nosoudy, 2015; Seco et al., 2011). Soil type, application
and environmental conditions can signicantly inuence the choice of
technical methods and procedures employed, as well as the resulting
characteristics of the treated soil. Hence, prior to the application of soil
improvement/stabilization procedures, an accurate characterization of
the local soils and an understanding of local conditions for a given country are deemed mandatory (Ali, 2004). For instance, expansive phenomena may cause serious problems in arid climates, whereby the supply of
water from any source is liable to cause ground heave in soils or rocks
possessing swelling potential (Al-Rawas et al., 2005).
Phyllite clays or phyllites are rocks (metamorphosed to a low extent) of slate clay materials that are found in vast areas around the
world. Phyllites belong to the foliated and platy group composed of tabular and elongated minerals (the lamination and foliation make them
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: canomanuel@hotmail.es (M. Cano).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clay.2016.01.042
0169-1317/ 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

break along planes) and they are thinly bedded. Phyllites contain an
abundance of ne grained phyllosilicates, which gives them an unctuous feel, and the existence of preferential cleavage makes them easily
breakable into thin sheets (Adom-Asamoah and Owusu-Afrifa, 2010;
Alcntara-Ayala, 1999; Garzn et al., 2009a; Lonergan and Platt, 1995;
Oliva-Urcia et al., 2010; Ramamurthy et al., 1993; Sanz de Galdeano
et al., 2001; Valera et al., 2002). In a recent paper, de Oliveira et al.
(2015) considered phyllite as a granulated metamorphic rock, citing
previous work performed by Arnold et al. (1998). However, Arnold
et al. (1998) considered phyllite as low-grade metamorphic rock, classied as greenschist facies with thin-shaly foliated texture, formed from
pelitic rocks. de Oliveira et al. (2015) studied the effect of the substitution of hydrated lime with Brazilian phyllite on mortar quality. They
concluded that the contribution of the phyllite to mortar quality was
lower than that of the lime and, therefore, produced a reduction in mortar quality, rather than improving it.
The present investigation concerns the stabilization and improvement in the engineering properties/performance achieved for Spanish
phylliteclay material by the addition of lime. The addition of lime stabilizes clay, although the percentage of lime content required changes
with clay type/minerals. Hence, the proper design of claylime mixtures
includes careful identication of pertinent soil characteristics and a
well-developed experimental testing program aimed at identifying the
appropriate mix proportions to achieve the required material properties/performance. Composite materials having attributes superior to
those of the original soil (clay), but produced with low or at similar

330

E. Garzn et al. / Applied Clay Science 123 (2016) 329334

relative cost, are an attractive proposition for applications in the construction and building industries.
Due to their good compaction properties and very low permeability,
traditional uses of phyllites in southeast Spain have been for very specific purposes, including: as cover for and to impermeabilize roofs and the
central area of ponds; as core material in zoned dam/reservoir construction; and for waste landll applications (Alcntara-Ayala, 1999; Castillo,
2010; Garzn et al., 2009a, b; Garzn et al., 2010; Lonergan and Platt,
1995; Sanz de Galdeano et al., 2001). A systematic program of testing
was performed on materials sampled from several phylliteclay deposits located in the Almera and Granada provinces (Andalusia Region,
Spain) by Garzn et al. (2009a); Garzn et al., 2009b; Garzn et al.,
2010). The materials had good compaction properties and, hence, low
water-permeability values and stiff response on loading. Despite the
low porosity attained for dry-side compaction, the material underwent
some collapse settlement on soaking at stresses greater than 100 kPa. At
low applied stress, the compacted material did not display important
swelling on soaking (despite the presence of active clay minerals) on account of its low specic surface and low water-retention ability. Nevertheless, the expansivity of these phyllite clays limits their used in some
applications, such as earth construction where low stress levels are envisaged; e.g. as road subgrade material.
Recently, we reported on new phyllite claycement composites having improved engineering properties and material applications (Garzn
et al., 2015). In the present paper, we present the experimental ndings
of an original investigation performed to examine the improvement in
engineering properties/performance of Spanish phylliteclays achieved
by the addition of up to 7 wt.% lime. The main focus of this research was
to investigate the effectiveness of lime addition in producing a reduction
in the phyllite clay activity (i.e. decrease its plasticity index value), and
therefore its expansivity, in order to meet regulatory requirements for
its potential use as road subgrade material. The engineering properties
of the phyllite claylime mixtures investigated include their consistency
limits, compaction, California Bearing Ratio, swelling potential and
water-permeability. The required pavement thicknesses for the raw
phyllite clay and phyllite claylime mixtures are also compared and
discussed. To the authors' knowledge, this is the rst international report presenting such data for phyllite claylime mixtures.
2. Experimental
Select phylliteclay samples were sourced from Berja, Almera,
Spain. In its natural state, this material has a very low gravimetric
water content ranging 12% (mean of 1.8%), a void ratio (volume of
voids to volume of solids) value of ~0.39 and a dry density of 2.03 Mg/
m3 (Garzn et al., 2010). The representative bulk phylliteclay sample
used in the present investigation was oven dried at 105110 C to constant mass, allowed to cool to ambient laboratory temperature (20 C),
disaggregated, and then sieved to obtain the fraction passing the 20mm sieve (grading curve for which is presented in Fig. 1).
Garzn et al. (2010); Garzn et al., 2015) reported the predominant
silica-alumina chemical composition of these phyllite clays, with typically 4550 wt.% of silica and 2224 wt.% of alumina. Minor amounts
of other oxides were also found present, such as CaO (1.74.4 wt.%),
MgO (2.83.4 wt.%), Na2O (1.82.4 wt.%), K2O (3.33.9 wt.%) and iron
oxide as Fe2O3 (8.39.4 wt.%). The mineralogical composition) of these
samples was determined by X-ray powder Diffraction (XRD) as chlorite
and illite (main clay minerals), quartz and some minor aluminosilicates,
potassium feldspar and an interstratied phase with phyllosilicates,
which was identied as mixed-layer illitesmectite or possible chloritesmectite. The loss in dry mass of a representative test-specimen
of the natural material after 1 h of thermal treatment at 1000 C ranged
6.87.0 wt.%, which was associated with phyllosilicates having structural OH groups (i.e. chlorite, illite and interstratied phase).
The lime used in preparing the soil mixtures was a powdered sample
of industrial hydrated lime material (96 wt.% passing the 125 m sieve),

Fig. 1. Grading curve for fraction of disaggregated phylliteclay sample passing the 20-mm
sieve.

which had a calcium hydroxide content of 92 2 wt.% and a gravimetric


water content b 1.5%.
In preparing phyllite claylime mixtures (at 3, 5 and 7 wt.%) for investigation, a sample of the phylliteclay material passing the 20-mm
sieve was dry mixed with the lime material in the required proportions
for a 1-h period to achieve homogeneity. Deionized water was then
added to sub-samples, as necessary, in order to prepare test materials
having a range of water contents.
The raw phyllite clay and phyllite claylime mixtures were characterized by their liquid limit, plastic limit and plasticity index values, following standard procedures (ASTM D4318-05: ASTM, 2005), in order to
investigate their change in activity with increasing proportion of lime
additive. These tests were performed on the fraction of the test materials passing the 425 m sieve, as required by the given standard.
The modied Proctor (MP) compaction behaviors of the phyllite
clay fraction passing the 20-mm sieve, and its mixtures with lime,
were determined in accordance with ASTM (2014). Further, California
Bearing Ratio (CBR) tests were performed on the MP-compacted specimens after they had been allowed to soak in a water bath for 4 days
(ASTM, 2014). The CBR test is used to evaluate the potential strength
of subgrade, sub-base and base course materials for use in the design
of road and aireld pavements. The swelling potential of the MPcompacted specimens was also determined from the measured change
in longitudinal (axial) dimension of compacted soil cylinders under
soakage (ASTM, 2014).
The water-permeability coefcient values of the raw phyllite clay
and phyllite claylime mixtures were determined at constant conning
stress and controlled-gradient conditions using a triaxial cell apparatus.
The test-specimens were MP compacted slightly on the wet side of the
optimum water content for compaction, allowed to cure in a wet chamber for a 7-day period and then saturated in the triaxial cell apparatus by
back pressure steps to achieve a Skempton B coefcient value 0.95,
with the permeability-coefcient value determined for a mean effective
conning pressure of 50 kPa.
Finally, Peltier's (1969) formulation (Eq. (1)) was used to calculate
the overall thickness (E, in cm) of the exible pavement that would be
required for road linear work construction employing the raw phyllite
clay and phyllite claylime mixtures.

p
E 100 150 P =CBR 5

where P is the maximum wheel load (in tonne), estimated at 3 tonne.


Refer to Dal-R (2001) for some worked examples on the use of Peltier's
formulation for the design of rural roads.

E. Garzn et al. / Applied Clay Science 123 (2016) 329334

3. Results and discussion


Fig. 2 shows the liquid limit LL, plastic limit PL, and plasticity index PI
(dened as the numeric difference between the LL and PL) values measured for the remolded phylliteclay material and phyllite claylime
mixtures. A near linear increase in LL (Fig. 2a) and an overall reduction
in PI (Fig. 2b) was found with increasing proportion of lime additive
(07 wt.%). The latter occurred on account of the greater increase in
PL, with respect to LL, for an increasing proportion of lime additive
(Fig. 2a). The reduction in PI, which was most signicant for 3 wt.%
lime mixture (Fig. 2b), is expected to decrease the activity of the composite materials and, hence, their sensitivity to changes in water content; i.e. produce a lime stabilization effect.
The experimental results above agree with those reported by several
authors, including Basha et al. (2005) for residual soil, Bell (1996) for
laminated clay, Di Sante et al. (2014) for a clayey soil of high plasticity,
Castro-Fresno et al. (2011) for bentonite, Lpez-Lara et al. (1999) for expansive clay and Ola (1977) for a lateritic soil. Considering the present
results, further research is warranted to understand the relative reduction in PI values measured, as well as the benet of lime addition in reducing the swelling potential of compacted phyllite clays (reported
later in this paper). It is suggested that with the addition of lime, the
presence of the relative high proportion of clay minerals (chlorite and
illite) and interstratied phase in the phylliteclay material, as

Fig. 2. Consistency limits and classication of the phylliteclay material for different
proportions of lime additive: (a) liquid and plastic limits; (b) plasticity index;
(c) Casagrande's plasticity chart (adapted from BS 5930: BSI, 2015). Note: inclined line
in Fig. 2(c) is referred to as the A line.

331

described in the Experimental section, inuence this behavior. Arnold


et al. (1998) did not report any evidence of interstratied phases in
the phyllite sample (from Germany) that they studied by XRD. They
found only chlorite, muscovite (in its variety sericite), quartz and albite
feldspar. de Oliveira et al. (2015) also did not report evidence of interstratied phases for their phyllite sample (from Brazil), which was primarily composed of mica (muscovite or illite), chlorite (clinochlore),
quartz, potassium feldspar, and hematite.
Furthermore, the present results (Fig. 2b) show that only marginal
reductions in PI were achieved for greater than 3 wt.% lime addition
(i.e. 5 and 7 wt.% mixtures), which has also been reported by Ayuso
(1982) and Castro-Fresno et al. (2011). The experimental data are plotted on Casagrande's plasticity chart in Fig. 2c, indicating: the raw
phyllite clay (0 wt.%) is a low plasticity clay, plotting above the A-line;
whereas the 3, 5 and 7 wt.% composites are classied as silt materials,
plotting below the A-line. The raw phyllite clay and 3 wt.% lime mixture
were of low plasticity (LL b 35%), whereas the 5 and 7 wt.% lime mixtures were both of intermediate plasticity (LL = 3550%). In other
words, according to this analysis, increasing the proportion of lime
from 0 to 7 wt.% changes the characteristic material behavior (i.e.
from that of a clay to that of a silt) and also increases the material's plasticity from the low to intermediate range.
Fig. 3 shows the MP-compaction test results, with quite high values
of dry densities produced; greater than the 2.03 Mg/m3 reported for the
in-situ phyllite clay by Garzn et al. (2010), from previous studies performed on the physical and geotechnical properties of these materials.
Fig. 3a shows dry density against water content relationships for the
different mixtures, from which the 95% of maximum dry-density value

Fig. 3. Compaction properties of the phyllite clay material for different proportions of lime
additive: (a) dry density against water content relationships; (b) maximum dry density
and optimum water content. MP, modied Proctor; SP, standard Proctor.

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E. Garzn et al. / Applied Clay Science 123 (2016) 329334

requirement, generally stated in compaction specications, can be determined. With increasing proportion of lime additive from 0 to
7 wt.%, the maximum dry density value achieved was found to decrease
almost linearly from 2.27 to 2.10 Mg/m3, with the corresponding optimum water content (OWC) value increasing from 6.5% to 9.5%. Also included in Fig. 3 are the results of standard Proctor compaction testing for
the raw phyllite clay (0 wt.%). These results, considering phyllites as
clayey materials according to their mineralogy, are consistent with
those reported by several authors for other clayey materials and soils
(Ayuso, 1982; Basha et al., 2005; Bell, 1996; Kezdy, 1979; Miller and
Azad, 2000; Ola, 1977).
For the present investigation, the reduction in MP maximum dry
density values achieved with increasing proportion of lime additive
(Fig. 3b) may be explained by the lower density of the lime material
(relative to that of the phyllite clay) and higher rigidity of the soil skeleton produced for the phyllite claylime mixtures. The moderate increase in OWC values is assumed due to the increase in LL and PL
values detected with increasing proportion of lime additive (Fig. 2a).
These kinds of changes are associated with pozzolanic reactions occurring between the clay minerals (chlorite and illite as main components
in the phyllite clay) present and the added lime. The OH ions of the hydrated lime produce an increase in pH, favoring pozzolanic reactions between the silica and alumina of the lattices of clay minerals and the
available calcium ions.
However, conicting opinions are reported in the literature about
the timing, sequence and modes of reactions, and whether such reactions occur in solution or at the surface or edges of the clay particles,
causing structural changes that lead to particle cementation (Di Sante
et al., 2014). Such processes could be operating to form a cementitious
material for the phyllitelime mixtures under investigation. Reported
studies have used several techniques to examine the pozzolanic activity
of related clay materials (Al-Rawas et al., 2005; Ayuso, 1982; Basha
et al., 2005; Bell, 1996; Castro-Fresno et al., 2011; Di Sante et al., 2014;
George et al., 1992; Miller and Azad, 2000; Ola, 1977; Snchez de
Rojas et al., 2006; Seco et al., 2011).
Table 1 lists CBR test results for 95% and 100% MP compaction, calculated road pavement thickness requirements based on same (determined using Eq. (1)), and swelling test results for the phylliteclay
material and phyllite claylime mixtures (37 wt.%). Table 2 lists measured water-permeability coefcient values for MP-compacted phyllite
clay samples having different proportions of lime additive (07 wt.%).
Fig. 4 shows the results of the CBR tests performed at 95% and 100% of
the MP maximum dry density values after these test-specimens had
been allowed to soak in water for 4 days. The raw phyllite clay
(0 wt.%) had CBR values of 1.7% and 2.5% for 95% and 100% MP, respectively (typical of clay soils). Measured CBR values for the phyllite clay
lime mixtures were signicant greater, ranging 2022% and 3542%
for 95% and 100% MP, respectively. The addition of 3 wt.% lime produced
the most dramatic increase in CBR, with the 5 and 7 wt.% lime additions
producing diminishing returns. For material MP-compacted at the OWC,
the raw phyllite clay had a measured swelling value of 3.6% axial strain,
whereas the phyllite claylime mixtures underwent no swelling under
soakage.
Fig. 4 also shows indicative values of the overall pavement thickness
(in meters) required for MP-compacted material to support vehicular
trafc, deduced using Peltier's formulation (Eq. (1)). With the increase

Table 2
Evolution of permeability coefcient value for MP-compacted phyllite clay samples with
addition of lime.
Material

Permeability coefcient (m/s) 1011

Phyllite clay
Phyllite clay with 3 wt.% lime
Phyllite clay with 5 wt.% lime
Phyllite clay with 7 wt.% lime

1.81
35.3
62.1
241

in CBR values described above, compared with the raw phyllite clay,
the required pavement thickness for the 3 wt.% lime mixture was 73%
and 81% lower for 95% and 100% MP compaction, respectively. Further
increases in the proportion of lime additive produced diminishing
returns, with 75% and 84% reductions in the overall pavement thickness
achieved for the 7 wt.% lime mixture. Standard Proctor (SP) compaction
is arguably more appropriate than MP compaction for low stress applications; e.g. ways and roads made on esplanades of phyllite claylime
mixtures, particularly given the modest values of overall pavement
thickness (b 15 cm for 37 wt.% lime, Table 1 and Fig. 4) deduced for
the MP case. In the absence of such data, the MP results presented provide qualitative information for the SP case on the merits of lime addition to the phyllite clay. In terms of engineering behavior investigated,
SP compaction would result in lower maximum dry density and higher
OWC values (see Fig. 3a), lower CBR values, and hence greater pavement thickness requirements compared with the MP-compacted materials. Nevertheless, the presented results indicated that, in practice,
potentially signicant reductions in construction costs for ways and
roads made on esplanades of phyllite clays can be achieved with the addition of 3 wt.% lime. This proportion of lime addition was sufcient to
satisfy the plasticity requirements described in the Sheet of Technical
General Prescriptions for Works of Roads and Bridges PG3 (Spanish
Highway Agency, 2008), and was shown to substantially reduce overall
pavement thickness requirements, meaning that the phyllite clay
3 wt.% lime mixture can be used as road subgrade material.
As described in the Introduction, other potential applications for the
phyllite claylime mixtures are in earth construction, as building materials and for impermeabilization purposes. For instance, Fig. 5 shows
measured water-permeability coefcient (k) values for the MPcompacted materials plotted against the proportion of lime additive,
with the best-t line indicating an exponential increase in k values
with increasing proportion of lime additive over the range of 07 wt.%
lime investigated.
Di Sante et al. (2014) also reported an increase in k values with increasing proportion of lime additive for a lime-treated clayey soil, although without a mathematical correlation, as found in the present
investigation. Here, the MP-compacted raw phyllite clay had a k value
of 1.8 1011 m/s, and together with the 3 and 5 wt.% lime mixtures,
was categorized as having extremely low permeability (i.e.
k b 1 10 9 m/s). The 7 wt.% lime mixture, having a k value of
2.4 109 m/s, was categorized as very low permeability material. SP
compaction is likely to produce higher k values (greater volume of
pore voids), but for material SP-compacted wet of OWC is not expected
to signicantly increase layer thickness requirements for
impermeabilization purposes. Further research is necessary to validate
this hypothesis.

Table 1
Results of CBR tests, calculated road pavement thickness requirements (from Eq. (1)), and swelling tests for the phyllite clay and phyllite claylime mixtures (37 wt.%). Note: E1 and E2,
thickness of road pavement required based on measured CBRs for 100% and 95% of MP maximum dry density, respectively.
Test material

CBR for 100% MP (%)

CBR for 95% MP (%)

E1 (cm)

E2 (cm)

Swelling (%)

Phyllite clay
Phyllite clay with 3 wt.% lime
Phyllite clay with 5 wt.% lime
Phyllite clay with 7 wt.% lime

2.5
34.9
37.9
42.0

1.7
19.6
21.2
22.2

48.0
9.0
8.4
7.6

53.7
14.6
13.7
13.2

3.6
0
0
0

E. Garzn et al. / Applied Clay Science 123 (2016) 329334

333

Phyllite claylime mixtures comprising 3, 5 and 7 wt.% lime had


good compaction properties and very to extremely low waterpermeability coefcient values of the order of 10 91011 m/s. A
semi-logarithmic correlation was found between increasing waterpermeability coefcient and increasing proportion of lime additive.
Potential applications for phyllite claylime mixtures include as
pavements/road subgrade and building materials, in earth construction,
and for impermeabilization purposes. Further research is underway on
the use of phyllite clays in the preparation of mortars and concrete,
which will be the subject of future reports.

Acknowledgments

Fig. 4. Potential use of phyllite claylime mixtures for pavement construction; (a) CBR
values; (b) overall pavement thickness. Note MP, modied Proctor; E1 and E2, required
pavement thickness (in meters) based on measured CBR values for 100% and 95% of MP
maximum dry density, respectively.

4. Summary and conclusions


The Spanish phylliteclay material investigated was mainly comprised of clay minerals (chlorite and illite), quartz, feldspars and an interstratied phase with phyllosilicates. The main focus of this
investigation concerned the effectiveness of 37 wt.% lime addition in
stabilizing (reduction in plasticity) the disaggregated phylliteclay
material.
The addition of 3 wt.% lime was found sufcient to reach the index of
capacity amble specied in the Sheet of Technical General Prescriptions
for Works of Roads and Bridges PG3 (Spanish Highway Agency, 2008),
causing a signicant reduction in the plasticity index (to 2.1%), with the
compacted mixture undergoing no swelling under soakage.
Swelling potential is relevant for the use of phyllite clays as construction materials for structures subjected to low stress levels. Analysis of
the present results indicates that the overall pavement thickness (deduced using linear work) reduced by 73% for the addition of 3 wt.%
lime to the phyllite clay and 95% MP compaction, indicating that potentially signicant reductions in construction costs of ways and roads
made on esplanades of phyllite clays can be achieved.

Fig. 5. Water-permeability coefcient against proportion of lime additive for MPcompacted phyllite clay.

The nancial support of Andalusia Regional Government


(20142015) to this research through Research Groups AGR 107 and
TEP 204 is acknowledged. This paper is dedicated to Dr. Juan Poyato
Ferrera, Full Professor of the University of Sevilla, on the occasion of
his retirement. Dr. Ferrera was involved over many years in clay
research.

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