In situ, seasonal changes expose soils to frequent wetting–drying–freezing–thawing cycles. Such processes can favour and trigger shallow instabilities controlled by the weathering process. This paper presents an experimental study carried out to investigate the effects of the weathering process, caused by the wetting–drying–freezing–thawing cycles, on the compressibility and shear strength of a natural clay. Several specimens were trimmed from block samples of overconsolidated clays taken from a slope in south Calabria, Italy. Specimens were subjected to wetting– drying–freezing–thawing cycles of different durations and then tested with standard equipment (oedometer and direct shear). Test results show that the wetting–drying–freezing–thawing cycles caused a change in the initial microstructure that produced a decrease in the compression index and an increase in the swelling index. Moreover, the direct shear test results show a decrease in the peak shear strength and demonstrate that a larger reduction occurs in the first month of weathering cycles. The intense cycles performed in the laboratory produced a decay of compressibility and a shear strength approaching reconstituted values. The conclusions are important when choosing the shear strength parameters required when studying shallow landsliding in clay slopes.
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