Experimental effects of surfactants on the production of stromatactis-shaped cavities in artificial carbonate sediments


Authors: Hladil J, Koptíková L, Růžička M, Kulaviak L

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 82, issue 1; pages: 37 - 50; Received 29 July 2006; Accepted in revised form 26 February 2007;

Keywords: surfactants, polydisperse particulate systems, multiphase systems, pattern formations, experimental sedimentation, voids in sediment, carbonate sediments, stromatactis,

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This study continues previous work on the fluid-mechanical/rheological origin of stromatactid cavity systems. In contrast to our previous work, this study focuses specifically on the role of liquids in settling slurries. Experiments with increasing amounts of surfactants (and other solutes) in water provided evidence that the formation of stromatactis-shaped cavities can be significantly reduced, increased or structurally modified in this manner. Two artificial ‘mud-based’, complex particulate materials were used, simulating the compositions of their natural counterparts: a ‘clastic mixture’ and a ‘sponge spicule mixture’. Three results are particularly significant: Firstly, the magnitude of volumes of stromatactis-like cavities initially falls and then increases, with the lowest values corresponding to the initial amounts of surfactants. Secondly, a nearly perfect match between the behaviours of the two different materials was found. And, thirdly, the largest and most typical cavity shapes were experimentally produced under conditions of moderately increased surfactant concentrations, whereas subsequent over-saturation lead to the formation of massive infills instead of well preserved voids.


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