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Geology and engineering properties of sensitive Boston Blue Clay at Newbury, Massachusetts

1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, 01003 USA
2 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME, 04469 USA
3 Geosyntec Consultants, Acton, MA, 01720 USA

Special Issues: Characterization and Engineering Properties of Natural Soils used for geotesting

This paper describes the geology and geotechnical engineering properties of a sensitive marine clay deposit at a research site located in Newbury, Massachusetts (MA) in the northeast USA. Results from in situ testing, soil sampling, and laboratory testing are presented. The clay is locally known as Boston Blue Clay (BBC) which is a glacial marine clay that was deposited approximately 14,000 years ago in the greater Boston, MA area during retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet. The thickness, stress history, and soil properties of BBC can vary significantly depending on location. At the Newbury research site, the BBC deposit consists of a shallow thin desiccated crust underlain by a 12-meter thick low plasticity clay with an overconsolidation ratio ranging from 2 to 3. Sensitivity of the clay ranges from approximately 10 to 30, based on field vane and fall cone measurements. In situ testing performed at the site included seismic piezocone and field vane. Soil sampling was performed using a variety of samplers including Sherbrooke block, fixed piston thin-walled Shelby tube, and a thick-walled drive sampler. A full suite of advanced laboratory tests was performed on the various quality samples collected, which ranged from very poor (thick-walled drive sampler) to excellent (Sherbrooke block), including constant rate of strain consolidation, consolidated undrained triaxial and direct simple shear. The efficacy of the Recompression and SHANSEP procedures to mitigate sample disturbance was evaluated using results from the advanced laboratory test program. The paper presents data from these advanced tests as well as other soil classification, index, and engineering properties based on in situ measurements and laboratory test results. A synopsis of constructed facilities built on and in BBC within the greater Boston area is also presented.
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Keywords soft clay; in situ testing; soil sampling; shear strength; consolidation

Citation: Don J. DeGroot, Melissa E. Landon, Steven E. Poirier. Geology and engineering properties of sensitive Boston Blue Clay at Newbury, Massachusetts. AIMS Geosciences, 2019, 5(3): 412-447. doi: 10.3934/geosci.2019.3.412

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