Mineral dissolution in sediments
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Mineral dissolution is an inherent chemo-hydro-mechanical coupled diagenetic process in sediments. This ubiquitous geological phenomenon affects all properties in sediments, however, its engineering impact remains largely unknown. This research centers on the effects of mineral dissolution on sediment behavior with emphasis on dissolution modes in nature and their engineering implications. Five different dissolution modes are identified: homogeneous, pressure-dependent, and localized dissolution, and the dissolution of shallow and deep dissolvable inclusions. The consequences of each dissolution mode are investigated through experiments and discrete element methods. While each dissolution mode triggers unique consequences, it is observed that in all cases 1) significant displacement takes places during dissolution, 2) there is a pronounced effect of internal friction and the extent of dissolution on the evolution of the sediment, 3) the sediment has higher compressibility and exhibits a more contractive tendency after dissolution, 4) a porous honeycomb-shaped internal fabric develops accompanied by contact force concentration along dissolved inclusions, and 5) horizontal stress reduction takes place during dissolution and shear localization may develop under zero lateral strain conditions. Mineral dissolution has important engineering implications, from soil characterization to slope stability and shallow foundations. Pre- and post-dissolution CPT studies show that dissolution decreases the tip resistance proportional to the extent of dissolution. Dissolution in sloping ground induces global settlement as the prevailing deformation pattern, and prominent lateral movements near the slope surface; sudden undrained shear failure may take place during otherwise quasi-static dissolution. While footings experience larger settlements during post-dissolution loading, subsequent dissolution beneath a previously loaded footing causes displacements that are greater than the sum of dissolution-induced and load-induced settlements.