Drying of silty soil treated with superabsorbent hydrogels: Retention behaviour and cracking

Joaquín Liaudat*, Stefano Muraro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Desiccation cracks in soils pose risks to the serviceability and safety of geotechnical infrastructure worldwide. This paper aims to investigate the potential of superabsorbent hydrogels (SAH) as innovative soil amendment to mitigate soil drying effects and cracking. Laboratory tests were conducted on an initially saturated silty soil treated with different types and dosages of SAH. Desiccation cracking tests, shrinkage tests, and water retention tests were performed to analyse the cracking process, evaporation rate, and retention properties. The tests were integrated with micro-CT scan analyses to observe changes in soil fabric due to the SAH addition. The results indicate that SAH particles serve as internal water reservoirs, extending the normal shrinkage stage and maintaining higher suctions without significant desaturation, in comparison to untreated soil. The addition of SAH reduces the evaporation rate, particularly at a dosage of 0.1%. The progression of cracking occurs at suctions below the air entry value, and the inclusion of SAH reduces the rate of crack development. These findings highlight the need for additional research on SAH as a promising soil treatment for geotechnical applications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107433
Number of pages14
JournalEngineering Geology
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Soil
  • Desiccation cracking
  • Superabsorbent hydrogels


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