Particle Size Distribution of Gypseous Samples
Arnett, Morgan P.
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Particle size distribution (PSD) of gypseous soils is important in the soil science community. When gypsum constitutes a major portion of the soil, its removal prior to PSD analysis distorts the results and may lead to textures that do not relate to conditions in the field. In order to understand the true characterization of the soil and the gypsum particles, the entire soil sample should be analyzed. Four different approaches to the BaCl2 method presented in the literature (Hesse, 1976, Matar and Douleimy, 1978, Viellefon, 1979) were used to evaluate the use of BaCl2 solution to reduce the solubility of gypsum by forming a protective coating of BaSO4 around gypsum particles. Results showed that the BaCl2 method was unsatisfactory, as dispersion of clays was not sufficient to allow particle size analysis using the pipette method. A procedure using a laser diffraction particle size analyzer (LPSA) was also evaluated. As gypsum is insoluble in methanol, methanol was selected as a possible solution, but it caused flocculation of clays and could not be used to analyze samples containing silicate clays. Gypsum saturated water containing Na hexametaphosphate was evaluated as a solution. First, 20 non-gypseous samples were analyzed on a sand-free basis using saturated gypsum water with Na hexametaphosphate. Results were used to establish a relationship comparing LPSA results and pipette results. An equation y = 1.37x + 2.03 was established relating LPSA clay percent by volume (x) to the pipette clay percent by weight (y). The equation had a R2 value of 0.84 and was significant at the 1% level. From this equation a comparison of 21 gypseous samples was made, between clay percentages of the pipette method and the LPSA method. Results indicate that LPSA can be used to give a satisfactory particle size distribution of gypseous soils when coupled with sand analysis by sieving.