Abstract

This study investigated the contributions of the wetting liquid and electrical double layers (EDLs) to the bulk electrical conductivity (σ) of sand–clay mixtures. The conductivity is small at small water content due to few conductive pathways and low ionic mobility. The fully expanded state of the EDLs provided the largest σ in distilled water but not in salt solutions. At small water content, σ increases following a logarithmic function, but changes linearly at large water content after reaching a transitional large value. This conductivity increases with increasing electrical conductivity of the wetting solution (σw) exponentially at small water content, but linearly at large water content. Existing bulk electrical conductivity models described the measured σ values well and resulted in stable values of the electrical formation factor (F) and dimensionless parameter. Due to considerable leach cations in the clay, the cations in the bulk solution exerted negligible influence on the surface conductivity (σs). Although F is independent of σw, the confounding effect of shrink–swell in the samples with changing σw shows an apparent dependency of F on σw. The surface mobility of the counterions decreased nonlinearly with increasing water-filled porosity (ϕ), and also with increasing σw. The cementation exponent (m) decreased monotonically from −4.4 at ϕ = 0.22 to −94.1 at ϕ = 0.93 in the samples wetted with distilled water. With increasing σw, m also increased. The value of m for three samples wetted with salt solutions of σw = 0.878, 1.273, and 1.572 S m−1 ranged from 2.1 to 2.5 at ϕ = 0.22 and 4.1 to 5.3 at ϕ = 0.93.

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