Cracking phenomena in drying and freezing soils

Dr. Rob Style (OCCAM, University of Oxford and KAUST)

Friday 10th December, 2010 14:00-15:00 325


I will talk about two related fracture mechanics problems in soils. Firstly I will show how flakes of mud peel off the surface of drying paints and clays. This process is typically ascribed to the peeling of a material off an underlying substrate, however peeling is often observed without the presence of a substrate. I will show how peeling can be caused by the presence of a gradient in soil water content due to fast evaporation from the surface. Secondly I will discuss how ice lenses form in freezing soils. Ice lenses are key to the occurrence frost heave (the process that causes road potholes in freezing weather). I show how ice lens growth can be modelled by fracture mechanics, and demonstrate that this model gives good qualitative and quantitative agreement with observations.

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