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Application of microbially induced calcite precipitation in erosion mitigation and stabilization of sandy soil foreshore slopes : a preliminary investigation

Salifu, Emmanuel and MacLachlan, Erica and Iyer, Kannan R. and Knapp, Charles W. and Tarantino, Alessandro (2016) Application of microbially induced calcite precipitation in erosion mitigation and stabilization of sandy soil foreshore slopes : a preliminary investigation. Engineering Geology, 201. pp. 96-105. ISSN 0013-7952

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Eroding foreshores endanger the floodplains of many estuaries, as such, effective and environmentally friendly interventions are sought to stabilise slopes and mitigate erosion. As a step in forestalling these losses, we developed laboratory microcosms to simulate tidal cycles and examined the mechanisms of erosion and failure on sandy foreshore slopes. As an experimental aim, we applied microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) to selected slopes and compared the effectiveness of this microbial geo-technological strategy to mitigate erosion and stabilise slopes. To assess shoreline stability, thirty cycles of slowly simulated tidal currents were applied to a sandy slope. Significant sediment detachment occurred as tides moved up the slope surface. For steeper slopes, one tidal event was sufficient to cause collapse of the slopes to the soil's angle of repose (~35°). Subsequent tidal cycles gradually eroded surface sediments further reducing slope angle (on an average 0.2° per tidal event). These mechanisms were similar for all slopes irrespective of initial slope inclination. MICP was evaluated as a remedial measure by treating a steep slope of 53° and an erosion-prone slope angle of 35° with Sporosarcina pasteurii and cementation solution (0.7 M CaCl2 and urea) before tidal simulations. MICP produced 120 kg calcite per m3 of soil, filling 9.9% of pore space. Cemented sand withstood up to 470 kPa unconfined compressive stress and showed significantly improved slope stability; both slopes showed negligible sediment erosion. With efforts towards optimisation for upscaling and further environmental considerations (including effect of slope saturation on MICP treatment, saline water and estuarine/coastal ecology amongst others), the MICP process demonstrates promise to protect foreshore slope sites.