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Quick clay - A case study of chemical perspective in Southwest Sweden

Journal article
Authors Yvonne Andersson-Sköld
J. K. Torrance
B. Lind
K. Oden
Rodney Stevens
K. Rankka
Published in Engineering Geology
Volume 82
Issue 2
Pages 107-118
ISSN 0013-7952
Publication year 2005
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 107-118
Language en
Keywords quick clay, southwest sweden, pore water, ion concentrations, geotechnical properties, mineralogy, quebec
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Quick clay, a soil that changes from normal firm ground to a liquid mass when it is disturbed, has been involved in most of the large and serious clay slides in Sweden, Norway and Canada. The location, time of occurrence and size of quick clay slides are difficult to predict and large slides may cause great devastation. Some geochemical studies of Swedish quick clay were done in the 1960s and early 1970s, but no systematic studies of the interrelationships of pore water chemistry, mineralogy, geotechnical properties and other parameters on quick clays in Sweden have been published. Such studies are of national and general interest because of the many combinations of rock flour source areas and sedimentation conditions that occurred across central Sweden and into the Baltic Sea area during deglaciation. In this study, geotechnical properties related to the in situ chemistry at one quick clay site were extensively studied, and spot sampling was conducted at two other locations in Southwest Sweden. In this area the clay minerals mainly are non-expanding phyllosilicate minerals (illite) and primary minerals (quartz, feldspar), which is consistent with previous studies of quick clay mineralogy. Extensive leaching has occurred at all three locations. At the extensively studied site, Surte, the lowest salinity was found at the greatest depth, inferring that the leaching by fresh water was accomplished by water movement upward and laterally through the sediment from the underlying bedrock. This is consistent with the local setting where bedrock hills rise sharply to over 100 in above the marine sediment surface. An artesian pressure would also be anticipated at this location. There is a correlation (negative) between sensitivity and salinity but there is an indication that the maximum salinity or electrical conductivity consistent with the quick clay behaviour is higher than reported elsewhere. However, for high sensitivities the salinity is about the same as reported elsewhere. In the deepest part of the borehole, there is a higher content of Fe and Al in the pore water, indicating reduced state. Further work is needed to confirm the difference in salinity and to investigate the possible interplay of salinity and potential dispersing agents such as the role of anoxic conditions, in this region. Further work is especially needed in the locations where the sediment accumulation occurred under lower salinity conditions. At all three locations, high remoulded shear strength and low sensitivity have been seen near the surface together with a decrease in pore water cation concentrations. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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