Geotechnical Characterization of Marine Sediments in the Ulleung Basin, East Sea

by Changho Lee, Tae Sup Yun, Jong-Sub Lee, Jang Jun Bahk, J. Carlos Santamarina
Year: 2011


Lee, C., Yun, T. S., Lee, J.-S., Bahk, J. J., and Santamarina, J. C. (2011). "Geotechnical Characterization of Marine Sediments in the Ulleung Basin, East Sea." Engineering Geology, Vol. 117, No. 1-2, pp. 151-158.


The geotechnical characteristics of Ulleung Basin sediments are explored using depressurized samples obtained at 2100 m water depth and 110 m below the sea floor. Geotechnical index tests, X-ray diffraction, and SEM images were obtained to identify the governing sediment parameters, chemical composition and mineralogy. We use an instrumented multi-sensor oedometer cell to determine the small-strain stiffness, zero-lateral strain compressibility and electromagnetic properties, and a triaxial device to measure shear strength. SEM images show a sediment structure dominated by microfossils, with some clay minerals that include kaolinite, illite, and chlorite. The preponderant presence of microfossils determines the high porosity of these sediments, defines their microstructure, and governs all macroscale properties. The shear wave velocity increases as the vertical effective stress increases; on the other hand, porosity, permittivity, electrical conductivity, and hydraulic conductivity decrease with increasing confinement. All these parameters exhibit a bi-linear response with effective vertical stress due to the crushable nature of microfossils. Well-established empirical correlations used to evaluate engineering parameters do not apply for these diatomaceous sediments which exhibit higher compressibility than anticipated based on correlations with index properties. Settlements will be particularly important if gas production is attempted using depressurization because this approach will cause both hydrate dissociation and increase in effective stress.


Diatomaceous sediment compressibility Stiffness Electrical conductivity Permittivity Microstructure Mineralogy Hydrate-bearing sediments