Effects of high temperature processes on physical properties of silica sand

S.G. Zihms, C. Switzer*, J. Irvine, M. Karstunen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


High temperature processes may alter soil properties, creating potential risks of subsidence, erosion and other hazards. Soils may be exposed to high temperatures during some aggressive contaminant remediation processes as well as natural events such as fires. Characterising the effects of high temperatures on soil properties is essential to understanding the potential hazards that may arise after exposure. Thermal treatment and smouldering remediation were carried out on silica sand used here as a simple soil. Changes observed in physical properties were associated with the treatment type and exposure temperature. Particle, minimum and maximum densities were independent of heat treatment type and temperature. In contrast, particle size distribution, mineralogy, capillary rise, and hydraulic conductivity were linked to treatment type and exposure temperature with the most substantial changes associated with smouldering remediation. Changes in colour and mass loss with increasing temperature suggest changes within the crystal structure of the silica sand beyond loss of moisture content within the pore space and dehydration of iron deposits from goethite to hematite. Based on these observations, exposure to high temperature processes and the complex geo-chemical reactions during smouldering remediation can have significant effects on soil properties. Monitoring after exposure is advisable to determine the severity of exposure and any mitigation measures that may be necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-145
Number of pages7
JournalEngineering Geology
Early online date20 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • fire
  • high temperature
  • smouldering remediation
  • soil engineering properties
  • thermal remediation


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