Experimental characterization and quantitative evaluation of slaking for strongly weathered mudstone under cyclic wetting-drying condition

  • Wu Liu
  • Zhen-hua ZhangEmail author
Original Paper


The fragmental disintegration processes of strongly weathered mudstone subjected to periodic changes in wet-dry state detrimentally affect numerous slope stability. To quantitatively study the disintegrating characteristics, laboratory-based eleven-cycle’s disintegration tests were performed on the mudstone samples taken from Guandukou area in Three Gorges region. Under the periodic action of wet-dry cycle, the tested mudstone samples continuously disintegrate, with bigger pieces with various sizes broken down into smaller fragments of different sizes. The fragmental disintegration process of the tested mudstone is relatively strong, but which cannot be indicated only by the content variation of small particles with some sizes (< 2 mm). To better characterize the slaking behavior, a quantitative measure based on the particle grading characteristics was proposed, with its effectiveness and reliability demonstrated by sensitive analysis. When the number of wet-dry cycles rises, the proposed slaking durability parameter decreases linearly while disintegration ratio shows slowly increasing tendency, indicating non-stop of mudstone disintegration subjected to cyclic changes in wet-dry state.


Mudstone Slaking characteristic Disintegration ratio Cyclic wetting-drying conditions 


Funding information

This study received financial support from the Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51709072, 51579063) and Anhui Province (1808085QE145), the Open Research Fund of China Three Gorges University (2018KDZ07), and the China Scholar Council (201806695005, 201906695025).


  1. Chai B, Yin KL, Jian WX, Dai YX (2009) Analysis of water-rock interaction characteristics and bank slope failure process of red-bed. Journal of Central South University (Science and Technology) 40(4):1092–1098. 1672–7207(2009)04–1092−07Google Scholar
  2. Deng HF, Zhou ML, Li JL, Sun XS, Huang YL (2016) Creep degradation mechanism by water-rock interaction in the red-layer soft rock. Arabian J Geosci 9(12):601. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Doostmohammadi R, Moosavi M, Mutschler T, Osan C (2009) Influence of cyclic wetting and drying on swelling behavior of mudstone in south west of Iran. Environ Geol 58(5):999–1009. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Erguler ZA (2016) A quantitative method of describing grain size distribution of soils and some examples for its applications. Bull Eng Geol Environ 75(2):807–819. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Erguler ZA, Shakoor A (2009a) Quantification of fragment size distribution of clay-bearing rocks after slake durability testing. Environ Eng Geosci 15(2):81–89. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Erguler ZA, Shakoor A (2009b) Relative contribution of various climatic processes in disintegration of clay-bearing rocks. Eng Geol 108(1–2):36–42. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Erguler ZA, Ulusay R (2009) Assessment of physical disintegration characteristics of clay-bearing rocks: disintegration index test and a new durability classification chart. Eng Geol 105(1–2):11–19. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gautam TP, Shakoor A (2013) Slaking behavior of clay-bearing rocks during a one-year exposure to natural climatic conditions. Eng Geol 166:17–25. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gautam TP, Shakoor A (2016) Comparing the slaking of clay-bearing rocks under laboratory conditions to slaking under natural climatic conditions. Rock Mech Rock Eng 49(1):19–31. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hu M, Liu Y, Ren J, Wu R, Zhang Y (2019) Laboratory test on crack development in mudstone under the action of dry-wet cycles. Bull Eng Geol Environ 78(1):543–556. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jiang Q, Cui J, Feng X, Jiang Y (2014) Application of computerized tomographic scanning to the study of water-induced weakening of mudstone. Bull Eng Geol Environ 73(4):1293–1301. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jiang Q, Yan F, Wu J, Fan Q, Li S, Xu D (2019) Grading opening and shearing deformation of deep outward-dip shear belts inside high slope: a case study. Eng Geol 250:113–129. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kikumoto M, Putra AD, Fukuda T (2016) Slaking and deformation behaviour. Géotechnique 66(9):771–785. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. National Development and Reform Commission (DL/T 5368–2007) (2007) Code for rock tests of hydroelectric and water conservancy engineering (in Chinese). Electric Power Press, China, Beijing, pp 18–19Google Scholar
  15. Sadisun IA, Shimada H, Ichinose M, Matsui K (2005) Study on the physical disintegration characteristics of Subang claystone subjected to a modified slaking index test. Geotech Geol Eng 23(3):199–218. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Shen P, Tang H, Huang L, Wang D (2018) Experimental study of slaking properties of red-bed mudstones from the Three Gorges Reservoir area. Mar Georesour Geotechnol. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Yao QL, Zhang FT, Ding XL, Zhang L, Jiang G (2009) Experimental research on instability mechanism of silty mudstone roofs under action of water and its application. Procedia Earth Planet Sci 1(1):402–408. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Yao Z, Zhou J, Zhang G, Wu B (2016) Experimental study of particle grading impact on piping mechanism. J Hydraulic Eng 47(2):200–208. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Yin YP, Hu RL (2004) Engineering geological characteristics of purplish-red mudstone of middle tertiary formation at the Three Gorges Reservoir. J Eng Geol 12(2):124–135. 1004–9665/2004/12(02)-0124–12Google Scholar
  20. Zeng Z, Kong L, Wang M, Sayem HM (2018) Assessment of engineering behaviour of an intensely weathered swelling mudstone under full range of seasonal variation and the relationships among measured parameters. Can Geotech J 55(12):1837–1849. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Zhang D, Chen AQ, Xing DH, Liu GC (2013) Effect of moisture and temperature conditions on the decay rate of a purple mudstone in southwestern China. Geomorphology 182:125–132. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Zhang D, Chen A, Wang X, Yan B, Shi L, Liu G (2016) A quantitative determination of the effect of moisture on purple mudstone decay in southwestern China. Catena 139:28–31. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Zhang Z, Liu W, Cui Q, Han L, Yao H (2018) Disintegration characteristics of moderately weathered mudstone in drawdown area of Three Gorges Reservoir, China. Arabian J Geosci 11(15):405. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Civil EngineeringHefei University of TechnologyHefeiChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Geological Hazards on Three Gorges Reservoir AreaMinistry of EducationYichangChina

Personalised recommendations