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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Dual-platform micromechanical characterization of soils: Oscillation shear rheometry and spherical indentation

Hosseinpour-Ashenaabad, Reza; Keller, Thomas; Larsbo, Mats; Hallett, Paul D.

Abstract

The dynamics of soil structure is caused by biotic and abiotic processes, with the onset and magnitude of deformation controlled by soil rheological and mechanical properties. Quantification of such properties is challenging because soil behaviour changes with soil moisture, but common rheological tests are not applicable over all consistency ranges. Here, we combine oscillation shear rheometry with spherical indentation mechanical measurements of soil to obtain greater characterization over a broader range of water contents. The elastic modulus could be measured with either approach, with good agreement found for measured silt and clay textured remoulded agricultural soils. For shear rheometry, plastic viscosity, complex modulus and shear yield stress were also obtained. The spherical indentation provided measurements of hardness and yield stress. Although yield stress was correlated between approaches, the values were orders of magnitude greater for the indenter (0.54 +/- 0.33 kPa vs. 34.4 +/- 31.2 kPa), presumably because of different loading and failure conditions. At drier water contents, yield stress varied more between the two tests on the clay soil, which corresponded with brittle fracture creating artefacts in shear rheometry measurements. Spherical indentation has not been widely applied to the testing of soils, but the good agreement over a wide water content range between elastic modulus obtained from spherical indentation measurements (0.66 +/- 0.27 MPa in wetter zone to 4.45 +/- 2.53 MPa in drier zone) and shear rheometry (0.47 +/- 0.11 MPa in wetter zone to 2.02 +/- 0.98 MPa in drier zone) is promising. Moreover, spherical indentation can be applied to materials varying from brittle to viscous and allows testing on structurally intact soil aggregates. The geometry of a spherical indenter may more closely mimic contacting soil aggregates, so scope exists to extend the approach to explore the slumping of aggregated seedbeds produced by tillage.

Keywords

Rheometry; Indentation; Micromechanics; Soil pastes; Viscoelasticity; Elastic modulus

Published in

Soil and Tillage Research
2022, Volume: 223, article number: 105467Publisher: ELSEVIER