Sulfate Induced Heave: Addressing Ettringite Behavior in Lime Treated Soils and in Cementitious Materials
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Civil engineers are at times required to stabilize sulfate bearing clay soils with calcium based stabilizers. Deleterious heaving in these stabilized soils may result over time. This dissertation addresses critical questions regarding the consequences of treating sulfate laden soils with calcium-based stabilizers. The use of a differential scanning calorimeter was introduced in this research as a tool to quantify the amount of ettringite formed in stabilized soils. The first part of this dissertation provides a case history analysis of the expansion history compared to the ettringite growth history of three controlled low strength mixtures containing fly ash with relatively high sulfate contents. Ettringite growth and measurable volume changes were monitored simultaneously for mixtures subjected to different environmental conditions. The observations verified the role of water in causing expansion when ettringite mineral is present. Sorption of water by the ettringite molecule was found to be a part of the reason for expansion. The second part of this dissertation evaluates the existence of threshold sulfate levels in soils as well as the role of soil mineralogy in defining the sensitivity of soils to sulfate-induced damage. A differential scanning calorimeter and thermodynamics based phase diagram approach are used to evaluate the role of soil minerals. The observations substantiated the difference in sensitivity of soils to ettringite formation, and also verified the existence of a threshold level of soluble sulfates in soils that can trigger substantial ettringite growth. The third part of this dissertation identifies alternative, probable mechanisms of swelling when sulfate laden soils are stabilized with lime. The swelling distress observed in stabilized soils is found to be due to one or a combination of three separate mechanisms: (1) volumetric expansion during ettringite formation, (2) water movement triggered by a high osmotic suction caused by sulfate salts, and (3) the ability of the ettringite mineral to absorb water and contribute to the swelling process.
Portland cement concrete
Threshold sulfate level
Controlled low strength materials (CLSM)
Kochyil Sasidharan Nair, Syam Kumar (2010). Sulfate Induced Heave: Addressing Ettringite Behavior in Lime Treated Soils and in Cementitious Materials. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from