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Geo-Mar Lett (2006) 26: 7789 DOI 10.



Kyungsik Choi . Ju Hyong Kim

Identifying late Quaternary coastal deposits in Kyonggi Bay, Korea, by their geotechnical properties

Received: 3 January 2006 / Accepted: 3 April 2006 / Published online: 26 April 2006 # Springer-Verlag 2006

Abstract Based on cone penetration tests with pore pressure measurements (CPTUs) and standard penetration tests (SPTs), the geotechnical properties of five lithostratigraphic units were determined during the construction of Incheon international airport on reclaimed macrotidal flats in Kyonggi Bay, Korea. Two late Pleistocene non-marine units (unit V and unit IV) display largest N values (cf. number of blows required to achieve a standard penetration), reflecting coarse-grained and overconsolidated sediments. Tidal channel and tidal flat facies (unit IIIb) consist of unweathered late Pleistocene tidal sand and mud. The tidal channel facies is characterized by upward-decreasing cone resistance (qt) and sleeve friction (fs) with negative pore pressures (ubt), reflecting a fining-upward textural trend. The tidal flat facies, by contrast, is represented by uniformly low qt and fs values with high friction ratios (FRs), suggesting homogeneous muddy deposits. Two overconsolidated units, a weathered late Pleistocene tidal mud (unit IIIa) and an early Holocene organic-rich nonmarine mud (unit II), are characterized by high qt, fs, FRs and N values, unit IIIa being much more consolidated than unit II. Holocene tidal sands and muds (unit I) show the smallest qt and fs values with positive ubt. These are slightly more consolidated than the tidal flat facies of unit IIIb. Two unconformable boundaries (a sequence boundary and a transgressive surface) have also been identified on some CPTU and SPT profiles. The boundaries are indicated by gradual but sharp increases in qt, fs and N values with an abrupt drop of ubt, which indicates the contact between two
K. Choi (*) New Ventures Department, Overseas E&P, Korea National Oil Corporation, 1588-14 Gwanyang-dong, Dongan-gu, 431-711 Anyang, South Korea e-mail: Tel.: +82-31-3802234 Fax: +82-31-3841275 J. H. Kim Geotechnical Engineering Research Department, Korea Institute of Construction Technology, 411-712 Goyang, South Korea

units showing contrasting rigidity. The regional pattern produced by the unconformable boundaries indicates the presence of late Pleistocene valleys which pass through the middle of study area. The location of the valleys seems to be controlled by the antecedent basement morphology.

With the growing demand for the construction of large infrastructures on soft ground such as tidal flats in the coastal zone, geotechnical properties of Quaternary deposits have been extensively utilized to assess the stability of the construction sites, as they provide information on subsidence rates, degrees of consolidation and liquefaction, etc. (Robertson 1986; Das 1994; Clark 1998; Ng et al. 2000; Liao et al. 2002; Lee et al. 2003). In particular, recent improvements in cone penetration tests with pore pressure measurements (CPTUs) have facilitated very detailed stratigraphic profiling (Robertson 1990; Robertson et al. 1992; Grunwald et al. 2001). Combined with traditional standard penetration tests (SPTs), this geotechnical method has proved useful in recognizing stratigraphically important boundaries such as former subaerial unconformities (Chang 1991; Amorosi and Marchi 1999). Despite its high potential for stratigraphic and sedimentological studies, however, this approach has to date been applied only in a few case studies (Moran et al. 1989; Amorosi and Marchi 1999; Veyera et al. 2001; Ricceri et al. 2002). During the last glacial period when sea level was up to 120 m below the present mean sea level (Chappell et al. 1996), most continental shelves were subaerially exposed. As a result of this, the former marine deposits became pedogenically modified. Exposed marine deposits are typically characterized by low water contents and high undrained shear strengths (Segall et al. 1987; Ergin 1996; Barras and Paul 2000; Rodriquez et al. 2000; Tovey and Yim 2002; Yim et al. 2002) and thus commonly define subaerial unconformities (e.g. sequence boundaries). Such unconformities are increasingly being recognized both on


the shelf and in the coastal zone along the west coast of Korea (Lee and Yoon 1997; Choi 2001; Jin 2001; Park and Choi 2002; Lim and Park 2003; Choi and Dalrymple 2004). Despite this growing number of reports, however, the spatial distributions of these boundaries are still poorly constrained, mainly due to a lack of cores and adequate geophysical survey tools, especially in the coastal zone. In the course of the construction of Incheon international airport on reclaimed macrotidal flats in Kyonggi Bay, west coast of Korea, thousands of geotechnical penetration probes and boreholes were sunk to assess the stability of the construction site. In combination with huge trench sections excavated for the foundations of the passenger terminal of the airport, this project provided unparalleled opportunities to study the geotechnical properties of the late Quaternary coastal deposits in this area, with wellconstrained sedimentological information (Choi 2001). The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to demonstrate that the late Quaternary stratigraphy in the study area, in particular unconformable boundaries resulting from subaerial exposure of the former seabed, can be identified on the basis of geotechnical properties generated from SPT and CPTU data.

Study area
The study area is located in the inner part of Kyonggi Bay, the largest macrotidal embayment along the west coast of Korea (Fig. 1). Before reclamation, the area consisted of a gently sloping tidal flat developed around a number of offshore islands (Fig. 1). The tidal flat was incised by numerous tidal channels which were particularly prominent along the east coast of Youngyou Island (Fig. 2). Overlying basement rocks of Precambrian gneiss and Jurassic granite, the sedimentary succession comprises up to 40 m of heterolithic tidal deposits and intercalated palaeosols (Fig. 3). These deposits have been divided into five lithostratigraphic units based on sedimentary facies and stratigraphic position (Choi 2001; Park and Choi 2002). In ascending order, these are late Pleistocene nonmarine gravelly sands and muds (unit V), late Pleistocene non-marine organic-rich sands and muds (unit IV), late Pleistocene tidal sands and muds (unit III), weathered early Holocene non-marine organic-rich muds (unit II), and Holocene tidal sands and muds (unit I; Fig. 3). Unit III was further subdivided into two parts based on the degree of weathering. The upper part, unit IIIa, consists of weathered tidal sands and muds whereas the lower part, unit IIIb, is composed of unweathered tidal sands and muds.

Fig. 1 Locality map showing the geographic setting of the study area. Bathymetry is in meters below present mean sea level

79 Fig. 2 a, b Detailed bathymetric map (a) of the study area with positions of boreholes and CPTU sites (b). Open circles denote CPTU sites of which the data are discussed in the text but not shown in the figures. Bathymetry is in meters below present mean sea level prior to reclamation which commenced in 1992

Materials and methods

Cone penetration tests with pore pressure measurements (CPTUs) CPTUs, so-called piezocone tests (Robertson 1986), were carried out at 20 sites in the construction area where it is covered by 3-m-thick sand fills (Fig. 2). CPTUs were made at borehole sites where sediment logs are available. At each location, the CPTU probe was pushed to a depth of 22 28 m below the surface (25 m on average). By this method, a cone at the end of a series of rods is pushed into the ground at a constant rate of 2 cm/s (ISSMFE 1989). The test device consists of a 60 cone having a 10 cm2 base area and a 35.7 mm base diameter, with a 150 cm2 friction sleeve located above the cone. Measured between the cone tip and the friction sleeve, pore pressure is the sum of the calculated static equilibrium pore pressure and the change in pore pressure which is created at cone penetration. In each case, recordings of depth, cone resistance (qc), sleeve friction (fs), and pore pressure (ubt) were made at 25 cm intervals. The cone tip resistance measurements were subsequently corrected for

the equal area effect qt (Lunne et al. 1985), which is given by the equation qt qc ubt 1 a where a is the net area ratio (0.75 in the present case). A friction ratio (FR), defined as the ratio (in percentage) between fs and qc, was calculated to estimate sediment texture (e.g. Amorosi and Marchi 1999). The CPTU measurements conform to the United States ASTM (1995) standard and the ISSMFE (1989) reference test procedures. Sediment cores and standard penetration tests (SPTs) from boreholes Sedimentary and SPTs logs (N values; cf. below for definition) from 130 boreholes were used to investigate spatial patterns produced by unconformable boundaries and sediment thicknesses. The boreholes were sunk using a hydraulically powered drill (KACA 1996). In particular, sediment cores from 15 boreholes were utilized for stratigraphic analysis and calibration of the CPTU data.


Fig. 3 Cross section illustrating the late Quaternary stratigraphy of the YoungjongYongyou tidal flat. Note the high relief of the sequence boundary (SB1) and the transgressive surface (TS1) between the Holocene and late Pleistocene sequences. See Fig. 2a for the location of the cross section

Cored samples 1030 cm in length and 5 cm in diameter were analysed for colour, texture and sedimentary structures. The N value, defined as the number of blows required to achieve a penetration of 0.3 m using a 63.5 kg driving mass or hammer falling free from a height of 760 mm (ASTM 1992), was determined at 1.5-m intervals. Undrained shear strength from field vane tests (FVTs) and CPTUs Field vane tests (FVTs) were performed at two boreholes, with a Geonor vane to provide reference values of undrained shear strength (Su) for the CPTU tests. The vane used in this study had a diameter of 50 mm and a height of 100 mm. The vane was rotated at a rate of 6/min until soil failure, to measure undisturbed shear strength (ASTM 1996). Remoulded shear strength was also determined to yield sensitivity ratios, by rotating the vane three times after failure. Estimations of Su from the CPTUs were carried out using the equation  Su qt 0 Nk where Nk is the cone factor and v0 is the total in situ vertical stress. In the present study, an average Nk value of 14.7, generated from 56 CPTU measurements, and field

vane tests were used for the estimation (Kim et al. 2001; Kim 2002). Grain size analysis and soil classification After organic matter was removed with 10% H2O2, the grain size of the sediment was determined using the conventional sieving technique for the sand fraction, and a Sedigraph 5100D for the silt and clay fractions. Sediment types were determined according to Folk (1974).

Basement morphology and spatial distribution of sediment thickness Near the shore, basement rock occurs at depths less than 15 m below mean sea level (MSL). It gradually deepens towards the middle and south of the study area (Fig. 4a) where it reaches its greatest depth at >40 m below MSL. Between the islands, the basement displays a prominent valley, its axis trending northwestsoutheast (Fig. 4a). The valley is wider and deeper in the south, and shallower and narrower in the north. Between Sammok and Yongyou islands, the valley displays a saddle structure reaching a depth of less than 20 m below MSL (Fig. 4a).


The spatial pattern in the distribution of sediment thicknesses reflects basement morphology, sediment thickness being greatest where the basement is deepest (Fig. 4b). The maximum sediment thickness (>40 m) is found in the southern part of the study area between the Youngjong and Yongyou islands (Fig. 4b). Near the coast and between the Sammok and Yongyou islands, sediment thickness is less than 20 m.

Geotechnical properties of the basement and sedimentary units Basal soil The basal soil, which occurs mostly 35 m below MSL in the CPTU test area, consists of weathered Jurassic granite composed of poorly sorted gravelly sands containing some (<10%) clay. This soil has the largest N values recorded in the study area, ranging between 38/30 cm and 50/7 cm (Table 1). The high gravel content (up to 30%) explains these large N values.

Fig. 4 a Map showing the depth to basement rock. b Map showing sediment thickness above basement

82 Table 1 Geotechnical properties of individual stratigraphic units in the YoungjongYongyou tidal flat Deptha Unit (m) 26 610 I: Holocene tidal deposit II: weathered early Holocene non-marine mud, IIIa: weathered late Pleistocene tidal deposit IIIb: late Pleistocene tidal deposit Mud Sandy silt to silty sand IV, V: late Pleistocene non-marine sand and mud Basal soil wn (%) PI (%) wl (%) N value (per x cm) qc Sediment type (kg/cm2) 120 20204 Mud, sandy silt Mud, silt

28.244.0 14.319.7 23.040.2 06/30 25.135.2 15.426.0 645/30


2535 >35

21.042.0 17.628.3 30.049.4 433/30 422/30 1033/30 21.428.8 1550/13 12.718.9

5327 525 15327

Mud, sandy silt, silty sand

Sandy silt, mud, gravelly sand Gravelly sand


Generalized depth range wn Natural water content, PI plasticity index, wl liquid limit, Nvalue number of blows in SPT, qc cone resistance in CPTU

Unit V and unit IV (late Pleistocene non-marine deposits) Unit V consists mainly of gravelly sands with small amounts (<5%) of mud, the sands being composed mostly of angular to subangular quartz and feldspar. This unit is laterally continuous and reaches 7 m in thickness. Unit IV, by contrast, consists of laterally discontinuous, organicrich muds with intercalated, thin gravelly sand layers. The coarse-grained texture of unit V, the lack of marine fossils in both units, and the absence of unequivocal tidal structures in unit IV suggest a non-marine origin of these units. Ranging between 15 and 50/13 cm (2535 m below MSL; Table 1), the N values are generally high but, depending on sediment texture, rather variable, being larger for sandy deposits. Unit IIIb (unweathered late Pleistocene tidal sands and muds) Unit IIIb, which overlies the non-marine basal units, consists of unweathered late Pleistocene tidal deposits which can be subdivided into tidal channel and tidal flat facies. The focus in this paper lies on the tidal flat and channel facies occurring in the upper part of unit IIIb, for which CPTU data are available. The tidal flat facies consists of non-rhythmic alternations of laminated and bioturbated mud (Fig. 5c). It reaches a maximum thickness of 9 m and occurs at 10.518.5 m below MSL. In the upper part of unit IIIb, this facies is overlain by a tidal channel facies characterized by an erosive base (Figs. 6 and 7). N values range between 4 and 10 (1025 m below MSL). With qt and fs values being narrowly constrained between 518 kg/cm2 (0.51.8 MPa) and between 0.20.4 kg/cm2 (2040 kPa), respectively, this facies has a rather linear cone response which results in almost uniform Fr values (13), indicative of a uniform lithology. Positive excess pore pressures (ubt>>u0) are another characteristic feature, the pressure increasing

linearly with depth, thereby characterizing a remarkably homogeneous mud succession (Fig. 6). Shear strengths measured from FVTs (CPTUs) range between 0.40.7 kg/ cm2 (0.40.6 kg/cm2). The tidal channel facies consists of a 26 m thick, finingupward succession having a sharp base and a gradational transition to the overlying unit. Cross-bedded silty sands, herringbone cross-bedded silty sands, and flaser-bedded silty sands constitute the lower part of the facies (Fig. 5b), whereas the upper part is dominated by wavy mud beds and rhythmically laminated mud (Fig. 5c). The base of the facies is marked by the presence of a thin lag deposit (e.g. gravel, mud pebbles and shell hash; Fig. 5b). It grades upwards into the weathered late Pleistocene muds of unit IIIa. A well-defined channel facies occurs between 10 and 16 m below MSL in the CPTU test area (Fig. 6). N values vary widely between 8 and 50 but sharply decrease upwards (1016 m below MSL). They are largest at the base of the tidal channel facies where texture is coarsest. The qt values fluctuate widely between 15200 kg/cm2 whereas fs values range between 0.22 kg/cm2. FRs lie between 0.3 and 2, being lowest at the base of the facies. In contrast to the tidal flat facies, negative excess pore pressures are typical for this facies (ubt<<u0). Finingupward trends are readily discernible in the form of progressively increasing qt values and decreasing FRs with depth. The fluctuating qt and fs values reflect the heterolithic nature of the deposits. Unit IIIa (weathered late Pleistocene tidal sands and muds) Unit IIIa is 12 m thick late Pleistocene deposit, which shows signs of post-depositional weathering. It displays several pedogenic features, including a yellowish-brown oxidation colour, illuvial clay coatings, and authigenic sphaero-siderites. N values range between 10 and 50, among the highest observed for muddy deposits (810 m below MSL). This unit is characterized by gradational cone


transitions at the top and the base. The fs values vary between 0.05 and 0.5 kg/cm2, fluctuating moderately with depth. As in the case of unit IIIa, this unit is also better expressed by its fs values. The FRs range between 1 and 4, and pore pressure values are mostly negative (ubt<u0) and increase with depth. Shear strengths measured from FVTs (CPTUs) range from 0.3 to 0.6 kg/cm2 (0.40.7 kg/cm2). Unit I (Holocene tidal sands and muds) Unit I consists of sandy silt and mud displaying various tide-influenced sedimentary structures, including non-cyclic laminations, herringbone cross laminations, and lenticular and wavy bedding. In contrast to unit IIIb, tidal channel deposits are not recognized in this unit. N values are among the smallest for any of the lithostratigraphic units, usually below 4 (2 to 6 m below MSL). In places where unit I is over 6 m thick, N values approach 8 near the base. With moderately high FRs (1.54), unit I is characterized by the lowest average qt and fs values (5 and 0.01 kg/cm2, respectively) observed in the study area (Table 1). These cone values are nearly uniform throughout the unit, increasing slowly only towards the base. Shear strengths estimated from FVTs (CPTUs) vary from 0.1 0.4 kg/cm2 (0.10.4 kg/cm2). Characterization of key surfaces by CPTUs and SPTs
Fig. 5 ad Photographs of representative sedimentary facies. a Late Pleistocene bioturbated mud (unit IIIb, tidal flat facies). b Late Pleistocene herringbone cross-bedded sand (unit IIIb, tidal channel facies) underlain by bioturbated mud (unit IIIb, tidal flat facies). Note the gravel lag at the base of the channel (CB). c Late Pleistocene laminated mud with load structures (unit IIIb, tidal channel facies). d Early Holocene organic-rich mud (unit II) overlain by bioturbated Holocene mud (unit I). Note the highly undulating nature of the transgressive surface (TS). Scale bars are 1 cm

Sequence boundaries (SBs) Occurring 2.55.5 m below MSL within the CPTU test area, sequence boundaries (SBs) are characterized by the presence of semi-consolidated mud with an oxidized colour (e.g. yellowish brown), leaching of mobile elements, and an absence of expandable clay minerals (Choi 2001, 2005). The SBs appear either as a gradational contact between unit IIIa and the overlying unit II, or as an abrupt and sharp contact between unit IIIa and the overlying unit I. In the latter case, the SB coincides with a transgressive surface (TS). In both cases, textural variations between neighbouring units are insignificant. On the CPTU profiles, the SBs are defined by gradual increases of qt and fs accompanied by negative excess pore pressures. In most cases, the fs displays more prominent peaks at the boundary than does the qt (Figs. 6 and 7). The SBs are also recognizable on the SPT profiles where two N-value peaks are present (Figs. 6 and 7). In such cases, the peak for the SB is usually larger than that for the TS. Transgressive surfaces (TSs) Sharp contacts separating the freshwater deposits (unit II) from the overlying tidal deposits (unit I) are interpreted as transgressive surfaces (TSs; Fig. 5d; e.g. Allen and Posamentier 1993). On CPTU profiles, the TSs are marked by gradual increases of qt and fs whereas excessive pore

values at the top and base. The qt values range between 10 and 60 kg/cm2, decreasing rapidly with depth. This unit is better defined by the fs values which vary from 0.3 to 3 kg/ cm2. FRs range between 1.5 and 7. Pore pressure values are mostly negative (ubt<u0), with positive values occurring only very locally (ubt>u0). Shear strengths estimated from FVTs (CPTUs) vary between 0.5 and 1.1 kg/cm2 (0.2 2.3 kg/cm2). Unit II (early Holocene non-marine organic-rich mud) Unit II represents an early Holocene organic-rich mud which is typically less than 2.5 m thick. The upper part of the unit is pedogenically modified, displaying weakly developed clay illuviation and authigenic sphaero-siderites (Fig. 5d). N values range mostly from 5 to 10, rarely reaching 20 (YIII-3; 68 m below MSL). The qt values vary between 7 and 30 kg/cm2, exhibiting gradational


Fig. 6 a, b CPTU and SPT profiles at site YI-4 (a) and site YII-5 (b), with stratigraphic interpretation. The FVT data are plotted in the Nvalue column of YI-4 (a). See Fig. 2b for the location of probes and boreholes


Fig. 7 a, b Correlation diagram of CPTU profiles with cone resistance (a) and sleeve friction (b), depicting stratigraphic units and unconformable boundaries (see Fig. 2b for the location of probes and boreholes). OS Original surface, TS transgressive surface, SB sequence boundary, WL weathering limit, CB channel base

pressures sharply take on negative values. The magnitudes of qt and fs are much smaller than those for the SBs. Such surfaces are also better defined by fs than by qt, as is the case for the SBs (Figs. 6 and 7). Within the CPTU test area, such a boundary is present 1.53.5 m below MSL. In some

places, a TS coincides with an SB (YI-2; Fig. 7). The TSs are also identifiable on SPT profiles, represented by an abrupt increase of N values (Fig. 6). In many places, the TS coincides with the boundary at which the N values first display a significant peak. Where unit II is absent, the TS is


interpreted to be superimposed on the SB. As inferred from the CPTU profiles, the N value characterizing the TS is smaller than that for the SB. Spatial distribution of an unconformable boundary mapped by SPTs Based on the 130 SPT profiles and logging data, an unconformable boundary was mapped for the study area (Fig. 8). This boundary corresponds to a depth at which the N values first display a prominent peak. As explained above, the boundary is likely to represent a transgressive surface which locally merges with a sequence boundary. The boundary is generally situated deeper towards the middle of the YoungjongYongyou tidal flats and also towards the offshore (Fig. 8). It occurs as deep as 14 m below MSL at the north-western limit of the study area (Fig. 8). Considering that unit II occurs only locally and is commonly less than 2 m thick, the morphology of the boundary is considered to mimic that of a sequence boundary. The spatial distribution of the boundary outlines two valley systems which have developed in the north and in the south of the study area. The northern valley is better developed than the southern one, the two valley systems being separated by an area where the boundary occurs as shallow as 2 m below MSL, as observed in the middle of the YoungjongYongyou tidal flat. The locations of the valleys correspond with those observed in the basement (Figs. 4 and 8), which implies that the relief of the unconformable boundary has been inherited from the antecedent basement morphology.

Pedogenically modified muds of high shear strengths have been reported from several locations along the west coast of Korea (Park et al. 1995, 1998; Choi 2001, 2005; Lim and Park 2003; Choi and Dalrymple 2004). The consolidated mud is interpreted to represent a subaerially exposed late Pleistocene tidal deposit (Choi 2001; Lim and Park 2003). The shear strength of the mud is typically 24 times higher than that of the overlying unexposed Holocene tidal deposit (Park et al. 1998; Lim and Park 2003). Based on various proxies including texture, colour, chemical and clay mineralogical composition, and stratigraphic position, unit IIIa is correlated with the consolidated mud (Choi 2001). Shear strength estimates based on FVT and CPTU measurements indicate that unit IIIa has shear strengths which are at least three times larger than those of unit I (Fig. 6). In addition to unit IIIa, unit II is also highly overconsolidated. Negative or close-to-zero pore pressures further suggest that unit IIIa and unit II consist of overconsolidated and fissured mud (Mayne et al. 1990; Chen and Mayne 1996). The high shear strengths of units IIIa and II are due mainly to desiccation during subaerial exposure. The low water contents in units IIIa and II provide more compelling evidence of desiccation (Choi 2001). The pervasive occurrence of pedogenic signals in units IIIa and II, such as illuvial clay coatings and increases in immobile chemical elements, further suggests that these units were subaerially exposed for at least a few thousand years (Choi 2005). Cone parameters (qt, ubt and fs) and N values indicate that unit II is less overconsolidated than unit IIIa. Given the similarity of textural composition between unit II and unit IIIa, the differences in cone parameters and N values seem to be related solely to differences in the degree of overconsolidation. It is obvious that unit IIIa has experienced more mechanical compaction than unit II

Fig. 8 Map showing the depth to the unconformable boundary which correlates either with the transgressive surface or with the sequence boundary


because the former is overlain by the latter. Considering the shallow burial depth (less than 10 m), however, it is unlikely that this alone can explain the difference in consolidation. The stratigraphic analysis suggests that unit II has been subaerially exposed for thousands of years, which is much shorter than the estimated exposure time for unit IIIa (Choi 2005). Since mud generally consolidates quickly after subaerial exposure (e.g. Amos et al. 1988; Barras and Paul 2000), this difference in exposure time seems to be insignificant. In general, clay mineral composition and pore-water chemistry is known to influence the shear strength of clays (Moore 1991). Thus, kaolinite-rich clay is more easily consolidated than montmorillonite-rich clay, and high pore-water salt contents result in an increase in the residual shear strength (Moore 1991). Since the two units have a similar clay mineralogy, clay mineral composition is unlikely to explain the difference in rigidity between the two (Choi 2005). On the other hand, unit IIIa is inferred to have a higher pore-water salt content than unit II because the former is interpreted to be a tidal deposit, whereas the latter is considered to be a freshwater deposit (Choi 2001). Although high pore-water salt contents are known to cause increases in residual shear strengths of clays by up to 40% (Moore 1991), this is not sufficient to explain a nearly threefold difference in the degree of overconsolidation between unit IIIa and unit II. On the other hand, chemical weathering processes such as oxidation, reduction, and hydrolysis might partly account for the difference in consolidation (Yoshida et al. 1991). Since enrichment in ferric iron oxide is more prominent in unit IIIa than in unit II, cementation by iron oxide should be more pronounced in unit IIIa. However, further studies are needed to determine the relative influence of these possible control factors. The results of this study clearly show that CPTUs and SPTs are effective in identifying unconformable boundaries such as transgressive surfaces and sequence boundaries in the study area. This can be explained by the fact that the sedimentary units above and below the boundaries have a contrasting rigidity, despite their almost uniform grain size. The CPTU and SPT measurements thus strongly reflect the degree of overconsolidation. However, where such consolidated muds are absent or sandy sediments occur, recognition of the boundaries would be difficult solely on the basis of geotechnical properties. Although the presence of two highly consolidated units is clearly indicated by the cone parameters and N values, unit boundaries are often gradational on the CPTU and SPT profiles. As a result, the boundaries are defined as zones, rather than sharp surfaces. Similar observations were made in late Quaternary deposits of the south-eastern floodplain of the river Po in Italy where the TS is represented by a transitional band (Amorosi and Marchi 1999). The gradational boundaries are attributable to either self-weight consolidation or an increase in water content during transgression. The former may explain the downward increase in rigidity within unit I. This would result in similar shear strengths in the lower part of unit I and the

upper part of unit II, and thereby produce the gradational character of the TS on the CPTU profiles. Once a sediment is subaerially exposed, its surface would be desiccated and unsaturated, resulting in a decrease in pore pressure and an increase in shear strength. During the ensuing transgression, however, the upper part of the consolidated units would be re-saturated. Increased water content would thus eventually again lower the shear strength in the upper part of the unit (e.g. Tovey and Yim 2002). Another possibility is weathering, which contributes to the softening of overconsolidated mud through an increase in soil moisture, physical disruption and loss of bonding, and probably also precipitation of expansive clay minerals (Moore 1991; Yoshida et al. 1991). This process may account for the gradational contact between units IIIa and II, since the upper part of unit IIIa may have experienced intensive physical and chemical weathering. The presence of abundant blocky peds in the upper part of unit IIIa also suggests repetitive swellingshrinking episodes (Choi 2005). It was furthermore shown that CPTUs are useful in the characterization of sedimentary facies. Fining-upward tidal channel facies and homogeneous tidal flat facies are particularly well defined on the CPTU profiles. The heterolithic nature of the tidal channel facies is illustrated by the fluctuating cone resistance and sleeve friction values. This is consistent with the fact that the channel facies is composed of interlaminated sand and mud (Choi 2001). The sharp textural contrast between the tidal flat mud and overlying tidal channel deposits in unit IIIb is clearly recognizable on the CPTU profiles (Figs. 5b and 6), implying that cone factors are highly sensitive to textural changes. The distinct contact between the landfill and unit I (designated as OS in Fig. 7) on CPTU profiles is another indication of the susceptibility of cone factors to textural composition. The combination of cone factors, such as FRs, further provides a powerful predictive tool for textural characterization. For instance, unit IIIa has high fs values which are comparable to those of the sandy deposit in unit IIIb. However, the very high FRs of unit IIIa (1.37), which contrast with the low FRs of the sandy deposits (0.32), suggest that unit IIIa would be composed mainly of mud. SPT profiles also proved useful in the detection of unconformable boundaries, albeit with poorer resolution. These findings demonstrate convincingly that, when calibrated with continuous long sediment cores, geotechnical probes and boreholes can be used as efficient tools in Quaternary stratigraphic analysis.

From the results of this study, the following conclusions are drawn. When calibrated against core data, geotechnical parameters obtained from CPTUs and SPTs are useful


for the characterization of sedimentary facies and unconformable boundaries. Fining-upward tidal channel facies and homogeneous tidal flat facies are particularly well-defined in CPTUs and SPTs. Unconformable boundaries such as transgressive surfaces and sequence boundaries are characterized by gradual or abrupt increases in cone resistance, sleeve friction, and N values with a drop in pore pressure, implying a contact between adjacent units of contrasting rigidity. Based on the spatial distribution of unconformable boundaries inferred from SPTs, late Pleistocene valleys were identified in the north and south of the study area in Kyonggi Bay, Korea. Given the similarity of valley positions, their morphology seems to have been influenced by the antecedent basement morphology.

Acknowledgements This study has greatly benefited from the logistic support of many engineering companies, including Donga Engineering Consultant, Daewoo Engineering, and Yooshin Cooperation. The authors express their gratitude to these companies for their sustained support which made this study possible.

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