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Journal of Arid Land  2017, Vol. 9 Issue (6): 865-878    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0029-z
Orginal Article     
An experimental study of salt expansion in sodium saline soils under transient conditions
Xusheng WAN1,*(), Zhemin YOU2, Haiyan WEN3, CROSSLEY William4
1 School of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu 610500, China
2 State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
3 College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020, China
4 School of Foreign Languages, Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu 610500, China
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Salt expansion in sulfate saline soils that are widely distributed in northwestern China causes serious infrastructural damages under low-temperature conditions. However, the mechanism of salt expansion under low temperatures is not clear. In this study, we conducted a series of cooling experiments combined with salt crystallization to study this mechanism, and employed an ionic model to calculate the supersaturation ratio of the solution. During the experiments, the strength and the process of salt expansion were examined under different cooling rates and various crystal morphologies. The relationship between temperature and supersaturation ratio under transient conditions was also considered. Results indicate that the initial supersaturation ratio of a sodium sulfate solution is closely related to environmental conditions, and that this ratio decreases with slowing the cooling rates and stabilizing the crystal forms. Higher initial supersaturation ratios lead to an increased non-steady-state zone, resulting in less salt expansion. On the other hand, chloride ion content has a distinct influence on the crystallization supersaturation ratio of the sodium sulfate solution, and higher chloride ion content can inhibit salt expansion in sodium saline soils. These findings help explain salt expansion mechanisms in complex conditions such as seasonally frozen soils, and thus help search for improved methods of preventing salt expansion in sulfate saline soils.

Key wordssulfate saline soil      supersaturation ratio      ionic model      cooling rate      salt expansion     
Received: 10 January 2017      Published: 20 December 2017
Corresponding Authors: Xusheng WAN     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Xusheng WAN, Zhemin YOU, Haiyan WEN, CROSSLEY William. An experimental study of salt expansion in sodium saline soils under transient conditions. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(6): 865-878.

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