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Examining the hydromechanical behaviour of water repellent sand

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th International Conference on Unsaturated Soils
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2018


Climate change will expose geotechnical structures to increasingly extreme weather conditions, for example flooding, severe rainfall and droughts. Such changes demand novel, sustainable solutions to ensure lasting design confidence: water repellent sandy soils may offer such a solution. Water repellency is a natural phenomenon associated with soils in arid regions, caused by the build-up of long-chained organic compounds on or between soil particles or by severe heating events, for example bushfires. Some studies have independently examined retention and hydromechanical properties of water repellent sandy soils, however the link between the two remains poorly understood. Such understanding is needed to permit the material’s use in geotechnical design. This paper discusses a pilot study examining the retention properties and hydromechanical response of a water repellent and natural (hydrophilic) sand representative of Western Australian soils. Results indicated that current testing methods may be inappropriate for water repellent soils, generating unrealistic hydromechanical behaviour. Work identifying appropriate testing methodologies is ongoing.

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