Flume study on the effects of microbial induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP) on the erosional behaviour of fine sand

Alexandra Clarà Saracho, Stuart K. Haigh*, M. Ehsan Jorat

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)
    153 Downloads (Pure)


    Tangential flow-induced interface erosion poses a major threat to a wide variety of engineering structures, such as earth-filled embankment dams, and oil- and gas-producing wells. This study explores the applicability of microbial induced calcium carbonate (CaCO3) precipitation (MICP) by way of the ureolytic soil bacterium Sporosarcina pasteurii as a method for enhancing the surface erosion resistance of fine sand. Specimens were treated with cementation solution concentrations between 0·02 and 0·1 M, and the erosional behaviour examined in a flume under surface-parallel flow and increasing shear stress. Photographs, cumulative height eroded-time series and erosion rates were obtained as a function of specimen height, MICP treatment formulation and calcium carbonate content. Results showed that while untreated specimens eroded primarily in particulate and mass form, MICP-treated specimens were characterised by a block erosion mechanism. Further, erodibility was found to depend on the calcium carbonate content and the cementation solution concentration. To understand this, a systematic study of the calcium carbonate crystal sizes and distributions was undertaken through X-ray computed tomography. Fundamentally, the effectiveness of MICP for erosion control was found to be dominated both by the precipitated calcium carbonate content and microstructural features, with higher contents and larger crystals yielding lower erodibility values. Additionally, crystal growth mechanisms varied depending on the cementation solution concentration.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1135-1149
    Number of pages15
    Issue number12
    Early online date14 Jul 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


    • Erosion
    • Fabric/structure of soils
    • Laboratory tests
    • Reinforced soils
    • Sands
    • Shear strength


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