Can we map swelling clays with remote sensing?

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3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Swelling soils are soils containing clay minerals that change volume with water content. The original volume of natural soils may change up to 150 percent with increasing water content, which creates major geological hazards that cause extensive damage worldwide. Current engineering practice for delineating areas of potential high swell builds on extensive laboratory analysis, including X-ray diffraction analysis for establishing clay mineralogy and Atterberg limits for deriving the swelling index. This is labour-intensive and thus expensive. Of key importance in assessing the swelling potential of soils is accurate mapping of clay mineralogy and amount (particularly of high swelling smectite and low swelling kaolinite-group minerals) and mapping of soil moisture. For applications related to slope instability processes, surface height and surface deformation need to be examined. Results from spectral analysis of clay mineral spectra presented in this paper show that careful examination of absorption bands allows the characterization and mapping of the clay mineralogy of the soil, which, in conjunction with spectral unmixing, may lead to surface fractions of the various clay minerals. This can potentially be empirically linked with current engineering tests. Remote sensing perspectives for spatial reproduction of these results are further examined in this paper. Imaging spectrometry (ie, data acquisition in many narrow spectral bands that allow images of reflectance spectra to be derived) may provide insight in surface mineralogy, while microwave remote sensing could deliver soil moisture information. Interferometric SAR (InSAR) is one method of remotely sensed elevation mapping; other remote sensing approaches include radar and laser altimetry and the derivation of digital terrain data from stereoscopic imagery (ie, Spot, MOMS, etc). This paper could form the basis for formulating a number of research projects within a framework of mapping swelling potential of soils from space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-35
Number of pages9
JournalITC journal
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999

Keywords

  • Expansive soils
  • Mineralogy
  • Remote sensing
  • Spectrometry
  • Swell test

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