Mud crack pattern evolution in iterated drying cycles

Mud crack pattern evolution
in iterated drying cycles

Undergraduate report, unpublished, May 2015.

Mary Miedema

Department of Physics, University of Toronto,
60 St. George St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1A7.

This experiment examined pattern formation in crack networks of montmorillonite clay over a series of wetting and drying cycles. The evolution of a mud-crack pattern approximately 6.5 mm thick was analyzed for forty five cracking cycles. Over each iteration, as the mud-cracks closed and re-cracked roughly along their previous positions, a clear evolution from 90 degree - 90 degree - 180 degree T - junctions to 120 degree - 120 degree - 120 degree Y - junctions was observed. However, pockets of air trapped in the mud during the wetting process caused this evolution to be incomplete and acted as a limiting factor in the experiment.


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