Monitoring of the nano-structure response of natural clay under mechanical perturbation using small angle X-ray scattering and digital image correlation
Journal article, 2019

This paper introduces a new experimental method to monitor the evolving intra-particle, nanometre-scale response during hydro-mechanical tests on undisturbed wet clay samples using small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The method uses a newly developed miniature plane-strain one-dimensional compression cell that facilitates simultaneous full-field surface displacement measurements using digital image correlation and SAXS measurements. The 60–120 s acquisition times offered by SAXS at synchrotron facilities are beneficial to study time-dependent mechanisms in clays. The experimental results presented indicate that, for the natural sensitive clay tested in this work, no significant structural changes occur at the intra-particle scale during loading, even when large strains are measured at the macro-scale. In addition, changes that are observed at this scale occur after the end of perturbation, i.e. the creation of new intra-particle structures. Further information is obtained on the orientation evolution of the fabric by the comparative analysis of the individual mineral component response.




Directional anisotropy




Georgios Birmpilis

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, GeoEngineering

S. Hall

Lund University

Sebastian Lages

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU)

Lund University

Jelke Dijkstra

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, GeoEngineering

Acta Geotechnica

1861-1125 (ISSN) 1861-1133 (eISSN)

Vol. 14 6 1965-1975

Subject Categories

Applied Mechanics

Other Physics Topics

Other Materials Engineering



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