Particle size grading impacts salt-frost heaving and dissolution collapse events of salinized soil on northwestern China’s arid and cold region highways. However, the influencing mechanisms remain unclear and the impact of varying particle size grading needs further investigation. Hence, this study focused on these effects and the number of freeze–thaw cycles on the characteristic changes in highway salinized soil in arid and cold regions. Three soil columns with different gradations were prepared to explore the gradation and the number of freeze–thaw cycle affects on salinized soil’s salt-frost heaving and dissolution collapse characteristics. The multi-functional physical simulation platform conducted multiple freeze–thaw cyclic tests in the laboratory. Test results confirmed significant and conclusive effects of gradation and the number of freeze–thaw cycles on salinized soil’s salt-frost heaving and dissolution collapse behaviors. Poorly graded salinized soil with high coarse particle content caused repeated freeze and thaw engineering hazards, significantly affecting salinized soil’s displacement and deformation behaviors during freezing. Contrarily, an increased range of fine particles more easily involved the characteristics of salinized soil during thawing. Therefore, the fourth freeze–thaw cycle was a crucial time node. After four freeze–thaw cycles, the displacement and deformation of original salinized soil and B-grade salinized soil samples (poorly graded with high fine particle content) tended to be stable. In contrast, the displacement and deformation of A-grade salinized soil samples (poorly graded with high coarse particle content) increased the growth rate. The present research results contribute to in-depth knowledge of the effects of gradation and freeze–thaw cycles on the characteristics of salinized soil in northwestern China, providing excellent referenced data support for the prevention and control of highway salinized soil failures and other engineering projects in arid and cold regions of northwest China.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited