This dissertation describes development of a procedure for obtaining high quality, optical grade sand coupons from frozen sand specimens of Ottawa 20/30 sand for image processing and analysis to quantify soil structure along with a methodology for quantifying the microstructure from the images. A technique for thawing and stabilizing frozen core samples was developed using optical grade Buehler® Epo-Tek® epoxy resin, a modified triaxial cell, a vacuum/reservoir chamber, a desiccator, and a moisture gauge. The uniform epoxy resin impregnation required proper drying of the soil specimen, application of appropriate confining pressure and vacuum levels, and epoxy mixing, de-airing and curing. The resulting stabilized sand specimen was sectioned into 10 mm thick coupons that were planed, ground, and polished with progressively finer diamond abrasive grit levels using the modified Allied HTP Inc. polishing method so that the soil structure could be accurately quantified using images obtained with the use of an optical microscopy technique. Illumination via Bright Field Microscopy was used to capture the images for subsequent image processing and sand microstructure analysis. The quality of resulting images and the validity of the subsequent image morphology analysis hinged largely on employment of a polishing and grinding technique that resulted in a flat, scratch free, reflective coupon surface characterized by minimal microstructure relief and good contrast between the sand particles and the surrounding epoxy resin. Subsequent image processing involved conversion of the color images first to gray scale images and then to binary images with the use of contrast and image adjustments, removal of noise and image artifacts, image filtering, and image segmentation. Mathematical morphology algorithms were used on the resulting binary images to further enhance image quality. The binary images were then used to calculate soil structure parameters that included particle roundness and sphericity, particle orientation variability represented by rose diagrams, statistics on the local void ratio variability as a function of the sample size, and the local void ratio distribution histograms using Oda's method and Voronoi tessellation method, including the skewness, kurtosis, and entropy of a gamma cumulative probability distribution fit to the local void ratio distribution.
- Stabilization and imaging of cohesionless soil specimens
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Zbigniew David Czupak