This work presents the water retention curves obtained for two natural bentonites compacted at different dry densities. The density of the bentonite was kept constant during the determination, for which specific methodologies were developed. The materials tested are the FEBEX and the MX-80 bentonites, in the first of which divalent cations (Ca and Mg) predominate in the exchange complex; MX-80 is mainly sodic. The water retention capacity of the FEBEX bentonite is greater, although the difference between both bentonites becomes smaller towards low suctions. The effect of dry density on the water retention curve is very small or imperceptible for suctions >10 MPa, and below this value the lower the density of the bentonite, the greater its water content. The basal spacing of the samples equilibrated at different suctions has been measured and found to be in the order of those measured by other authors in powder samples equilibrated to the same suctions. The study was performed in the framework of projects concerning the engineered bentonite barrier of high-level radioactive waste repositories.

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