Effect of wetting-drying cycles on soil desiccation cracking behaviour
1 School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Nanjing University, 163 Xianlin Avenue 210023, China
2 Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, UR Navier/CERMES, 6 et 8, avenue Blaise Pascal, Cité Descartes, Champs-sur-Marne 77455 Marne-la-Vallée CEDEX 2, France
a Corresponding author: email@example.com
Better understanding the desiccation cracking process is essential in analysing drought effects on soil hydraulic and mechanical properties through consideration of the atmosphere-ground interaction. Laboratory tests were conducted to investigate the consequence of wetting-drying cycles on the initiation and propagation characteristics of desiccation cracks on soil surface. Initially saturated slurry specimens were prepared and subjected to five subsequent wetting-drying cycles. Image processing technique was employed to quantitatively analyze the morphology characteristics of crack patterns formed during each drying path. The results show that the desiccation cracking behaviour of soil is significantly affected by the wetting-drying cycles. Before the third wetting-drying cycle is reached, the surface crack ratio and the average crack width increases while the average clod area decreases with increasing the number of wetting-drying cycles. The number of intersections and crack segments per unit area reaches the peak values after the second wetting-drying cycle. After the third wetting-drying cycle is reached, the effect of increasing wetting-drying cycles on crack patterns is insignificant. Moreover, it is observed that the applied wetting-drying cycles are accompanied by a continual reconstruction of soil structure. The initial homogenous slurry structure is completely replaced with aggregated structure after the third cycles, and a significant increase in the inter-aggregate porosity can be observed.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2016
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