Measurement and modelling of moisture—electrical resistivity relationship of fine-grained unsaturated soils and electrical anisotropy

Merritt, A.J.; Chambers, J.E.; Wilkinson, P.B.; West, L.J.; Murphy, W.; Gunn, D.; Uhlemann, S.. 2016 Measurement and modelling of moisture—electrical resistivity relationship of fine-grained unsaturated soils and electrical anisotropy. Journal of Applied Geophysics, 124. 155-165.

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A methodology for developing resistivity-moisture content relationships of materials associated with a clayey landslide is presented. Key elements of the methodology include sample selection and preparation, laboratory measurement of resistivity with changing moisture content, and the derivation of models describing the relationship between resistivity and moisture content. Laboratory resistivity measurements show that the techniques utilised (samples and square array) have considerable potential as a means of electropetrophysical calibration of engineering soils and weak rock. Experimental electrical resistivity results show a hierarchy of values dependent on sample lithology, with silty clay exhibiting the lowest resistivities, followed by siltstones and sands, which return the highest resistivities. In addition, finer grained samples show a greater degree of anisotropy between measurement orientations than coarser grained samples. However, suitability of results in light of issues such as sample cracking and electrical conduction must be identified and accounted for if the results are to be accurately up-scaled to inverted model resistivity results. The existence of directional anisotropy makes model calibration curve selection more difficult due to variability in the range of measured laboratory resistances. The use of larger measurement array size means that experimental data will be more representative of bulk lithological properties. In addition, use of electrodes with a relatively high surface area (wide diameter) help maintain low contact resistances and repeat measurement error, relative to narrow electrodes. Variation exists between the fit of experimental data and petrophysical models. Model fit is best for clay-dominated samples but fits less well for sand-dominated samples. Waxman–Smits equation is appropriately applied in this investigation as all samples have considerable clay mineral content, as is shown in non-negligible CEC results. The incorporation of pressure plate suction measurements on samples, allows suction dissipation to be quantified and evaluated alongside moisture content and electrical resistivity.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 09269851
Date made live: 19 May 2016 11:51 +0 (UTC)

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