Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Civil Engineering

Major Professor

Alaa Ashmawy, Ph.D.


Montmorillonite, Permeability, Plasticity, Swell index, X-ray diffraction


Because of its low permeability and high swelling characteristics, bentonite is used in various hydraulic barrier systems and in the manufacturing of Geosynthetic Clay Liners (GCLs). Exposure to inorganic solutions containing elevated concentrations of electrolyte can significantly increase their permeability. To enhance the bentonite's chemical resistance to inorganic solutions, the manufacturers of GCL materials introduced propriety soluble polymeric compounds as an additive to bentonite. The resulting materials are referred to as polymer-treated, chemically-enhanced, or contaminant-resistant clays, and are arguably resistant to a host of inorganic chemicals. In this study, the response of both regular and polymer treated bentonite clays to ordinary tap water and inorganic landfill leachate is evaluated using permeability tests, index tests and x-ray diffraction. The results indicate the high dependence of performance on sample preparation techniques, pre-hydration conditions, and first wetting liquid and, to a lesser extent, polymer treatment. The x-ray diffraction results indicate that the samples reached chemical equilibrium during the permeation process, as demonstrated by a full shift in d-spacing from Na-bentonite to Ca-bentonite. Further, the results show that the cation exchange capacity, the clay plasticity ratio, and the swell index appear to be reliable indicators of the hydraulic compatibility of bentonite permeated with inorganic chemicals