Pore Size Distributions in Clays

Sidney Diamond
Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana 47907

Abstract: A knowledge of the distribution of pore sizes in clay and soil bodies is a useful element in the microstructural characterization of such materials. Pore-size distributions and total porosity of a number of reference clays, naturally-occurring subsoils, and commercial clay samples prepared in various ways were determined by mercury porosimetry. The range of equivalent pore diameter explored covered almost five orders of magnitude, from several hundred microns down to approximately 150 A. The method and its assumptions are critically evaluated, and measurements of the contact angle of mercury on clays yield values of 139° for montmorillonite and 147° for kaolinite and illite clays. The extent of shrinkage on oven-drying prior to mercury intrusion is assessed in each case and found to vary from insignificant to as much as 30 per cent of the pore space, depending on microstructural state and degree of initial saturation. The development of techniques for water removal which do not involve change in pore structure is explored. Some preliminary results for structurally weak saturated clays suggest that critical-region drying and perhaps freeze-drying procedures may be practical.

Clays and Clay Minerals; May 1970 v. 18; no. 1; p. 7-23; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1970.0180103
© 1970, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)