Evaluations of water retention characteristics of typical iron ore fines (IOF) were presented, which was part of experimental works for the estimation of liquefaction potential of IOF heaps. The water retention tests were conducted in a suction range from 0.1 to 106 kPa on two IOFs and two artificial soils with various testing techniques. It is observed that water retention characteristic curves of one IOF (IOF-B) converge in terms of the relationship between suction (S) and water content (w) regardless densities of specimens when S exceeds a threshold value (Sth). Based on this finding, water retention characteristics are divided into density and materials affected zones. It is also found that IOFs generally have higher water retention ability than the two artificial soils, from which discussion is made on the effect of specific surface area and mineralogy on water retention characteristics of IOF. Finally, water retention characteristics are linked to compaction curves, from which, with the consideration that degree of saturation at peaks of compaction curves is relatively constant, a safety margin of a recently proposed regulation for maritime transportation of IOF is discussed.
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