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Smear zone identification and soil properties around stone columns constructed in-flight in centrifuge model tests


Stone columns are primarily used for the purpose of ground improvement in fine grained soils in order to reduce settlements and the risk of bearing failure. They are also designed to improve the drainage conditions in the ground and to accelerate the consolidation processes within the clay. However, smear and disturbing effects caused during the construction of stone columns result in degradation of consolidation performance in comparison with the theoretically ideal conditions. Model stone columns are constructed in-flight under 50 times gravity in centrifuge tests and the soil micro-structure in the vicinity of these columns is investigated by applying different methods, including environmental scanning electron microscopy and mercury intrusion porosimetry. The results of these tests confirm that smear and disturbance occur owing to stone column installation and the region influenced can be divided into three sections: a penetration zone (1) where the sand particles are squeezed through the clay; a smear zone (2) where the soil particles have experienced a significant reorientation; and a densification zone (3) where the structure of the clay does not appear to change, but compaction of the clay is measurable. The extremes of the disturbed zone around model stone columns are determined to extend to about 25 times the column radius.


Weber, Thomas M. and Plötze, Michael and Laue, Jan and Peschke, Gabriele and Springman, Sarah M.

Index Terms:

clay; Soil; centrifuge; column; fabric; microscopy; SoilGroup; ClayGroup; ground improvement; model test; soil structure interaction; Laue, Jan; Peschke, Gabriele; Plotze, Michael; Springman, Sarah M.; Weber, Thomas M.

Further Information:

Date published: 2010