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An Analysis Of The Fragmentation Of Remolded Soils, With Regard To Self-mulching Behavior

CD Grant, CW Watts, AR Dexter, BS Frahn

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A power-law relation was used to analyse the (mass-derived) number-size distributions of fragments generated by wetting and drying remoulded soils. Various soils from Europe and Australia produced a range of values for the two fragmentation coefficients, d and k, generated by the power-law function. Both coefficients had physical significance with respect to self-mulching behaviour. Likened to a fractal dimension, the d coefficient varied directly with the tendency of the remoulded soil to fragment during wetting and drying. Assessment of the number of generated fragments >1 cm was made with the k coefficient. Consideration of both coefficients together in a plot of k v. d enabled similar soils to be grouped and falsely large values of d to be identified; k values were small for limited fragmentations even if the size distribution of the fragments that were produced gave large values of d. Most strongly self-mulching soils produced d values >1 . 5 after three wet/dry cycles, and k values that increased sharply after one cycle and declined with subsequent wetting and drying. Other soils with lesser abilities to self-mulch generally produced smaller d values and more variable k values. Reasonable correlations were found between these two coefficients and other measurements of self-mulching behaviour, particularly after three cycles of wetting/drying. Examination of the aggregate size distributions produced from remoulded soils in this way offers the potential to understand more clearly the dynamics of structure regeneration in soils exhibiting various degrees of self-mulching behaviour.