Micaceous sands: Microscale mechanisms and macroscale response

Jong Sub Lee*, Maria Guimaraes, J. Carlos Santamarina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The presence of mica changes the mechanical behavior of sandy soils. In this study, micro- and macroscale tests are used to explore the unique packing characteristics that develop in mixtures made of round and platy particles, and the effects that mica exerts on small, medium, and large strain parameters. Mixtures are prepared with different mica contents and various mica-to-sand size ratios, Lmica/Dsand. Results provide a comprehensive characterization of mixtures made of spherical and platy particles. Mica plates change sand packing through pore filling, bridging, ordering, and mica-mica interaction; bridging prevails and leads to open fabrics when Lmica/Dsand ≥1. As the mica content increases in mixtures with Lmica/ Dsand≥1, the shear-wave velocity decreases and it becomes more sensitive to the state of stress; the constraint modulus decreases; and the peak and residual friction angles decrease. Remixing during disordered granular flow prevents mica alignment and diminishes the otherwise weakening effect of mica on large-strain strength.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1136-1143
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Compression
  • Density
  • Fabrics
  • Localization
  • Residual soils
  • Sand
  • Shear modulus
  • Stiffness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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