A testing procedure was proposed to study water movement in compacted bentonite and the development of swelling pressure (ps) when compacted bentonite specimens were wetted. In this procedure, a multi-ring mold was introduced for ps measurements, after which the specimen was sliced for X-ray diffraction to find movement of water in the interlayer space of montmorillonite. Results revealed a relation between four phases of ps development and evolution of four states of interlayer water molecule arrangement of montmorillonite (L): When ps reached its first peak in phase I, L moved from 1 row water arrangement (1w) to at least 2w; when ps decreased and re-increased in phases II or III, L moved from 2w to at least 3w; and when ps reached a steady state in phase IV, L = 3w. The w distribution in the compacted bentonite was also measured as water absorption time increased. Based on those results, the global water movement was estimated in terms of diffusivity (D) following a method employing Boltzmann transform. Results of comparisons implied that D calculated using this method matched experimental data well and the method was rather easily handled.
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