The Use of Sodium Pyrophosphate to Improve a Translucent Clay Simulate Conference Paper uri icon


  • In the ever expanding quest to understand the nature and behavior of soil, translucent and even transparent media have been developed to serve as soil simulates. These artificial soils can be used in experimental models to make visual measurement of phenomena such as geosystem kinematics, soil mass movement, soil particle motion, and pore fluid flow that would be nearly impossible to obtain in natural opaque soils without expensive equipment or boundary effects. One successful type of translucent clay simulate is lithium sodium magnesium silicate (LNM silicate); however, it's low density/high void ratio results in higher than typical permeability, low undrained shear strength, and extremely long consolidation times. Until now, translucent soil simulates of only 4.5% by mass LNM silicate to total mass have been possible. This paper provides a method for creating mixtures of translucent LNM silicate gel/glass as high as 15% by mass with the additions of an emulsifier, sodium pyrophosphate decahydrate (SPP), which impedes gelation so additional silicate powder can be added. Further, digital image processing techniques are used to present a relationship between LNM silicate, SPP, and translucency and an analysis of the modified simulate's permeability and consolidation properties, with comparisons to natural clays, is also included.

name of conference

  • Geo-Chicago 2016

published proceedings

  • Geo-Chicago 2016

author list (cited authors)

  • Beemer, R. D., Shaughnessy, E., Ewert, K. R., Boardman, N., Biscontin, G., Aubeny, C. P., & Grajales, F. J.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Beemer, Ryan D||Shaughnessy, Elliese||Ewert, Kristen R||Boardman, Nicholas||Biscontin, Giovanna||Aubeny, Charles P||Grajales, Francisco J

publication date

  • January 2016