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Soil Treatment or Stabilization

There are many different soil treatment or stabilization methods that are used in practice. Table 9.4
presents a summary of these methods and the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Some
of the more commonly used methods are as follows:
1. Removal and replacement. During the grading of a project, it may be possible to remove the
expansive soil and replace it with nonexpansive or less expansive soil.
2. Remolding and compaction. This method is also commonly known as compaction control (Gromko, 1974). This
process is based on the observation that by compacting a clay at a water content that is wet of the optimum moisture
content, the initial percent swell will be less than for the same soil compacted dry of optimum (Holtz and Gibbs,
1956b; Holtz, 1959). Thus by compacting a clay wet of optimum, the swell potential of the soil will be reduced.
However, if the clay should dry out prior to placement of the structure, then the beneficial effect of compacting the
clay wet of optimum will be destroyed, causing the soil to become significantly more expansive (Day, 1994b).
3. Surcharge loading. This method basically consists of applying sufficient pressure to the expansive soil in order to
reduce the amount of swell. For example, a layer of nonexpansive soil or less expansive soil can be placed on top of
the clay. This soil cap increases the pressure on the clay and as shown in Table 9.1, the greater the surcharge
pressure, the lower the percent swell. Another possibility is to use the dead load of the structure to provide the
surcharge loading. This approach is basically a delicate balancing act of providing enough dead load to prevent
damaging uplift, but not too much dead load that settlement becomes excessive. If the foundation is constructed after
the rainy season when the clay has increased in moisture and softened, the heavy dead load could actually cause
excessive settlement due to consolidation of the clay.
4. Prewetting. This method is also commonly known as presaturation or presoaking. The idea is to flood the
expansive soil and allow it to absorb water and swell. The foundation, such as a slab on-grade, is then constructed on
top of the swelled clay. Usually the perimeter footings and interior bearing wall footings are deepened in order to
provide bearing beneath the softened clay. In addition, the deepened perimeter footings tend to act as a cut-off wall
that traps the moisture beneath the slab-on-grade. This method has many disadvantages including the possibility that
excess water left in the upper soil can cause swelling in deeper layers at a later date. Another disadvantage is that if
tree roots grow underneath the slab-on-grade, they can extract moisture from the wetted clay resulting in shrinkage of
the clay and downward displacement of the foundation.
5. Soil cementation. Many different compounds can be added to the expansive soil in order to cement the soil
particles together or reduce the expansiveness of the soil. As discussed in Table 9.4, these methods include lime
treatment and cement treatment.
6. Barriers. Horizontal and vertical barriers can be constructed around the perimeter of the foundation in order to
reduce the potential for cyclic heave and shrinkage.

Ref: page 480-Foundation engg handbook by Day, Robert.W