Chemico-Osmotic Effects in Fine-Grained Soils

by James K. Mitchell, (F.ASCE), Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA,
James A. Greenberg, Program Analyst; Health Services Admin., Ofc. of Program Analysis, New York, NY,
Paul A. Witherspoon, Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA,

Serial Information: Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Division, 1973, Vol. 99, Issue 4, Pg. 307-322

Document Type: Journal Paper


A theory to describe the simultaneous coupled diffusional flow of salt and water in soils is summarized. Examination of the coupling effects indicated by the theory and a computer analysis of consolidation caused by chemico-osmotic coupling shows that the effects of coupling should increase as soil void ratio decreases and soil compressibility and salt concentration differences increase. Test results have shown that chemico-osmotic effects do not exist, and the rates of solution flow are in reasonable accord with theoretical predictions. Chemico-osmotic consolidation is likely to be small for most soils, except for very fine-grained active clays like bentonite. However, these and other studies have shown that chemico-osmotic coupling is capable of moving soil pore water and dissolved salts and that chemico-osmotic soil stabilization might be feasible in certain cases.

Subject Headings: Consolidated soils | Fine-grained soils | Coupling | Soil water | Salt water | Soil analysis | Soil compression | Soil stabilization

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