Design of Chemically Amended Soil Liners

Smith, Mark E. ; Gierszewski, Gerald J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
Introduction The purpose of this paper is to present a procedure used by the authors for evaluating and designing soil liner systems. This method is particularly valuable in evaluating various treatment schemes for chemically amended soil liners. A tabulation of laboratory test results on various soil types are presented to quantify the effectiveness of certain treatments. A typical liner design program includes developing and proving soil borrow sources, designing the cross-section of the liner system, developing construction specifications, and providing construction services to ensure the intended product is achieved. Material Source Development The first step in designing a soil liner is to identify and evaluate suitable borrow sources within an economical haulage range. This is best done in a two step approach: a reconnaissance level investigation to identify target areas and a detailed evaluation of those targets. Reconnaissance: The goal of the preliminary investigation is to locate potential borrow sources for liner quality soils. This includes all natural materials which can be compacted, chemically treated, or otherwise amended to yield an installed permeability at or below some target value. This requires utilization of all available data sources: Soil Conservation Service, BLM, aerial photos, USGS geologic maps, and project geologist records. The goal at this stage is to locate shallow deposits of favorable soil types. The Unified Soil Classification System provides an excellent first pass grouping. Clays, clayey sands and silts are the most favorable soil types, although silty sands and occasionally clayey gravels can make excellent liners, and are often amenable to chemical modification. The lowest permeabilities are generally achieved with CH, CL and MH soils. Once preliminary targets have been identified using visual examination, laboratory classification tests should be performed to further refine the selection. Testing at this stage should include gradation, plasticity and hydrometer analyses. Additionally, "preg-rob" testing should be done as early as practical. Preg-rob is a phenomenon where gold or silver ions in solution associate with the clay, or other, minerals. When this occurs, a portion of the gold or silver leached from the ore is actually tied-up by the clay and thus a reduces recovery. Testing for this consists of agitating a small sample of the soil in a solution containing dissolved gold or silver, preferably of similar chemical make-up as the solution which will contact the actual liner. The solution and soil are assayed before and after agitation to determine loss to the clay. A reliable estimate of the hydraulic conductivity, commonly referred to as permeability, can be developed from the D10 value by the use of Hezen's formula: K = 100 (D1012 This relationship is limited to soils where the finer particles do not move due to the force of flowing water (i.e.: "hydrodynamic stabilitym)(1). Additionally, the effect of platty particles on permeability is not as predictable as the effect of equidimensional particles. D10 is the sieve opening size at which 10% of the material is finer. Plasticity is also important from several standpoints. Constructability is directly related to plasticity. Very plastic clays and non-plastic silts both tend to be difficult soils, while medium plastic clays and clayey sands are generally very desirable. Post construction performance is also related to plasticity (e.g. swelling, shrinkage cracking, frost heave, etc.). Additionally, low plasticity silts and silty sands generally do not respond well to chemical amendment. Source Development: The result of the reconnaissance evaluation should be an estimate of the relative probability of developing a suitable borrow source within an economical haul distance. Of course, "economical distance" depends on the degree of handling and treatment the borrow material requires, as well as the cost of synthetic alternatives. The purpose of the detailed investigation is to prove out quantity and quality of material sources, and determine design parameters such as degree of compaction, mixing, treatment and thickness of liner. The emphasis of the testing program should be permeability and strength. Strength becomes increasingly important as the slope of the liner and the height of the heap increase. Permeability testing should evaluate the effects of compaction, water content, mixing and chemical treatment where appropriate. The effects compaction and water content during compaction have on
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