AbstractThixotropy is a very important and unique property of soft clay in engineering, which has been drawing more and more attention in recent years. This study investigated the thixotropic strength recovery of representative marine clays in different sites of offshore China. The microstructure changes of clay during thixotropy were observed using scanning electron microscopy, and then related microscopic characteristics were analyzed. Probability entropy, Ep, is proposed as a new indicator based on the statistics of the alteration of diameter and orientation of particles or aggregates. The results show that thixotropy had significant effect on the strength increase for all the offshore Chinese clays that were tested, but their strength regain with time varied between the different sites. Some good correlations were developed between the thixotropy strength ratio and index parameters, particularly for water content, plasticity index, liquidity index, and sensitivity. The microstructural evolution of the clay tested during thixotropy was characterized by the change in both the diameter and the arrangement of particles or aggregates. The probability entropy was proved to quantitatively describe and analyze the microstructural evolution during thixotropy of clay, and its value increases with time. This new indicator could help to provide deeper insight into the thixotropic mechanism of clay.

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