Rock moisture content in the field and the laboratory and its relationship to mechanical weathering studies

Rock moisture content is a major control of mechanical weathering, particularly freeze‐thaw, and yet almost no data exist from field situations. This study presents moisture content values for rocks, taken from a variety of positions and conditions, in the maritime Antarctic. Additional information regarding the amount of water the rock could take up, as observed from laboratory experiments, is also presented. The results show that the approaches used in simulation experiments, particularly that of soaking a rock for 24 hours, may produce exaggerated results. It was found that the saturation coefficient (S‐value) was a good indicator of frost susceptibility (based on water content) but that the derivation of that value may underestimate the potential of some rocks. The distribution of moisture within rocks is seen as an important, but unkown, factor. The results of these field moisture contents suggest that for simulations of freeze‐thaw or hydration to be meaningful then they should have rock water contents based on field observations.


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Authors: Hall, Kevin

1 January, 1986
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms / 11
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