Gaomiaozi (GMZ) bentonite has been chosen as a possible matrix material of buffers/backfills in the deep geological disposal to isolate the high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) in China. In the Gaomiaozi deposit area, calcium bentonite in the near surface zone and sodium bentonite in the deeper zone are observed. The swelling characteristics of GMZ sodium and calcium bentonites and their mixtures with sand wetted with distilled water were studied in the present work. The test results show that the relationship between the void ratio and swelling pressure of compacted GMZ bentonite-sand mixtures at full saturation is independent of the initial conditions such as the initial dry density and water content, but dependent on the ratio of bentonite to sand. An empirical method was accordingly proposed allowing the prediction of the swelling deformation and swelling pressure with different initial densities and bentonite-sand ratios when in saturated conditions. Finally, the swelling capacities of GMZ Na- and Ca-bentonites and Kunigel Na-bentonite are compared.
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