In recent years, the presence of crusts within near surface sediments found in deep water locations off the west coast of Angola has been of interest to hot-oil pipeline designers. The origin for these crusts is considered to be of biological origin, based on the observation of thousands of faecal pellets in natural crust core samples. This paper presents the results of laboratory tests undertaken on natural and faecal pellet-only samples. These tests investigate the role faecal pellets play in modifying the gemechanical behaviour of clayey sediments. It is found that faecal pellets are able to significantly alter both the strength and the average grain-size of natural sediments, and therefore, influence the permeability and stiffness. Hot-oil pipelines self-embed into and subsequent shear on crusts containing faecal pellets. Being able to predict the time required for installed pipelines to consolidate the underlying sediment and thus, how soon after pipe-laying, the interface strength will develop is of great interest to pipeline designers. It is concluded from wet-sieving samples before and after oedometer tests, that the process of pipe laying is unlikely to destroy pellets. They will therefore, be a major constituent of the sediment subject to soil-pipeline shearing behaviour during axial pipe-walking and lateral buckling. Based on the presented results, a discussion highlighting the key implications for pipeline design is therefore provided.

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