Abstract

Gypseous soils occur in the western arid and semi-arid regions of South Africa and Namibia. These soils exhibit a complex nature and abnormal behaviour due to their gypsum content and as such they have become more prevalent in research. As these soils are finding more use in industry, an astute understanding of their hydrogeological properties and behaviour is required. Powdery gypseous soil samples collected from the Northern Cape (Geelvloer) and Western Cape (Rooiberg and R355) Provinces, as well as a prepared sample, are subject to XRD analysis, particle size distribution determination and falling-head permeability tests using both water and brine. The testing served as preliminary research to guide further studies into the topic. The prepared sample, with 19% fines, comprises 35% gypsum and 65% sand. Geelvloer samples, with 91.95% gypsum content, are comprised mostly of sand-sized particles with 45% fines. Rooiberg samples contain 75% fines with a slightly lower gypsum content of 83.25%, while R355 samples have 50% fines with 75.35% gypsum. It is generally understood that particle size distribution contributes to the hydraulic conductivity of soils, where a higher portion fines will result in a lower conductivity. In the case of gypseous soils, the solubility is of importance as well, as it may have long term effects. With the intent of evaluating the effect of the aforementioned factors on the hydraulic conductivity of gypseous soils in South Africa, the samples taken represent differences in particle size distribution and origin. Geelvloer had 𝒦-values in the order of 8.82×10-6 m/s, with the brine sample giving 9.43×10-6 m/s, while the 𝒦-values for Rooiberg and R355 were in the order of 3.90×10-6 m/s and 5.87×10-6 m/s, respectively. The brine resulted in 5.63×10-6 m/s for Rooiberg and 9.90×10-6 m/s for the R355 sample. The made sample, having less fines, had 𝒦 values in the order of 2.15×10-5 m/s, and 4.19×10-5 m/s for the brine. The differences between the results are largely negligible and show that despite what is believed to influence the hydraulic conductivity, in the case of gypseous soils in South Africa, on a small scale, it remained unaffected.

You do not currently have access to this article.