Theoretical investigation of the effects of consolidation on contaminant transport through clay barriers

T.W. Lewis, Peter Pivonka, David Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    Consolidation of clayey contaminant barriers such as landfill liners has been postulated as a cause of earlybreakthrough of contaminants. In this paper we theoretically investigate this proposition. For this purposea sophisticated one-dimensional, large-deformation model of coupled mechanical consolidation and solutetransport is employed. This new model is a generalization of existing coupled consolidation and solutetransport models described in the literature. It takes into account both non-linearities in geometry as wellas constitutive relations. The latter relate the compressibility, hydraulic conductivity and coefficient ofeffective diffusivity to the deformation of the soil. The model is applied to a case study of a clay liner andgeomembrane system. Results obtained from numerical solution of the model equations are compared withthose from various simplified models, including a ‘diffusion only’ (i.e. a rigid soil) model traditionallyused in contaminant barrier design. For barriers incorporating low compressibility soils (as for manywell compacted clays), there is little difference between contaminant transit (i.e. breakthrough) timespredicted by the two models. However, for contaminant barriers incorporating more compressible soils,consolidation is shown to significantly accelerate transport. These results indicate the potential importanceof accounting for the effects of soil consolidation and highlight the limitations of existing models whenmodelling solute transport through composite barriers utilizing soft soils. Based on these limited results,we suggest a possible way of taking into account soil consolidation using simplified models. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)95-116
    JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    Dive into the research topics of 'Theoretical investigation of the effects of consolidation on contaminant transport through clay barriers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this