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SOIL is the unconsolidated mineral matter that has been

subjected to, and influenced by, genetic and environmental Introduction

parent material,
organisms and topography all acting over a period of time.

It is made up of weathered rock fragments and decaying remains of plants and

animals (organic matter).

It also contains varying amounts of air, water, and microorganisms. It furnishes

mechanical support and nutrients for growing plants.

SOIL may be defined as a thin layer of earth's crust which serves as a natural
medium for growth of plants.

Soil is a natural body consisting of layers (soil horizons) of mineral constituents of

variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological,
physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics

The development of a soil is influenced by
five interrelated factors:
Parent material, and
Living organisms have a role in a number of processes involved including organic
matter accumulation, profile mixing, and biogeochemical nutrient cycling.

Through litterfall and the process of decomposition, organisms add humus and
nutrients to the soil which influences soil structure and fertility.

Surface vegetation also protects the upper layers of a soil from erosion by way of
binding the soils surface and reducing the speed of moving wind and water across
the ground surface.

Parent material refers to the rock and mineral materials
from which the soils develop. Introduction
These materials can be derived from residual sediment due to the weathering of
bedrock or from sediment transported into an area by way of the erosive forces of
wind, water, or ice.

Topography generally modifies the development of soil on a local or regional scale.

Climate plays a very important role in the genesis of a soil.

The two most important climatic variables influencing soil formation are
temperature and moisture.

Temperature has a direct influence on the weathering of bedrock to produce

mineral particles.

Time influences the temporal consequences of all of the factors.

All the rocks, when subjected to the forces of the
nature like weathering agencies of wind, water, Introduction
temperature, frost, waves etc. are weakened considerably and subsequently the
rocks are disintegrated into soils by the process of mechanical disintegration,
chemical decomposition and solution.

From engineering standpoint, the soil is natural aggregate of mineral grains formed
by the disintegration or decomposition of the rocks.

The engineering properties and behavior of soils are generally influenced by the
changes in the moisture content and density of compactness of the soil.

Soil Composition Most soils contain four basic components:

Mineral particles, water, air, and organic


Organic matter can be further sub-divided into

humus, roots, and living organisms.

Soil Profile

Most soils have a distinct profile or sequence of horizontal layers. Generally, these
horizons result from the processes of chemical weathering, eluviation, illuviation,
and organic decomposition.

Up to five layers can be present in a typical soil: O, A, B, C, and R horizons

The O horizon is the topmost layer of most soils.
Soil Profile
It is composed mainly of plant litter at various levels of decomposition and

A horizon is found below the O layer.

This layer is composed primarily of mineral particles and has two characteristics:
it is the layer in which humus and other organic materials are mixed with mineral
particles, and
it is a zone of translocation from which eluviation has removed finer particles and
soluble substances, both of which may be deposited at a lower layer.

Eluviation refers to the movement of fine mineral particles (like clay) or dissolved
substances out of an upper layer in a soil profile.

The deposition of fine mineral particles or dissolved substances in a lower soil layer
is called illuviation.

The B horizon is a mineral soil layer which is strongly influenced
by illuviation. Soil Profile
Consequently, this layer receives material eluviated from the A horizon.

The B horizon also has a higher bulk density than the A horizon due to its
enrichment of clay particles.

The C horizon is composed of weathered parent material.

The texture of this material can be quite variable with particles ranging in size from
clay to boulders.

The C horizon has also not been significantly influenced by the translocation, and/or
organic modification.

The final layer in a typical soil profile is called the R horizon. This soil layer simply
consists of unweathered bedrock.

Soil Profile
Surface soil

SubSurface soil

Sub soil

Parent Material

SOILS Rockbed
The physical properties of a soil are the result
of soil parent materials being acted upon by Physical Properties
climatic factors (such as rainfall and temperature), and affected by topography
(slope and direction, or aspect) and life forms (kind and amount, such as forest,
grass, or soil animals) over a period of time.

A change in any one of these influences usually results in a difference in the type of
soil formed.

Important physical properties of a soil are

Depth, and
Surface features (stoniness, slope, and erosion).

The physical properties and chemical composition largely determine the suitability
of a soil for its planned use and the management requirements to keep it most


When soil is examined, color is one of the first Physical Properties
things noticed.

In general, color is determined by: (1) organic matter content, (2) drainage
conditions, and (3) degree of oxidation (extent of weathering).

Surface soil colors vary from almost white, through shades of brown and gray, to

Light colors indicate a low organic matter content and dark colors can indicate a
high content. Light or pale colors in the surface soil are frequently associated with
relatively coarse texture, highly leached conditions, and high annual temperatures.

Dark colors may result from high water table conditions (poor drainage), low
annual temperatures, or other conditions that induce high organic matter content
and, at the same time, slow the oxidation of organic materials.

However, soil coloration may be due to the colors imparted by the parent material.

Texture refers to the relative amounts of Physical Properties
differently sized soil particles, or the fineness/coarseness of the mineral particles in
the soil.

Soil texture depends on the relative amounts of sand, silt, and clay.

In each texture class, there is a range in the amount of sand, silt, and clay that class
contains. Particle size ranges for sand, silt, and clay.
Type of Mineral Particle Size Range
Sand 2.0 - 0.06 millimeters
Silt 0.06 - 0.002 millimeters
Clay less than 0.002 millimeters
Clay is probably the most important type of mineral particle found in a soil.

Clay particles are also somewhat flexible and plastic because of their lattice-like

This feature allows clay particles to absorb water and other substances into their

Physical Properties
The amount or percentage of each
element determines the soil's texture.

Example of silty clay loam to determine

its percentage of sand, clay and silt.

15% sand
60% silt
25% clay

Soil Texture Triangle

In the majority of soils the particles do not Physical Properties
exist as individual grains but are packed together in clumps or peds.

The individual peds can be distinguished as a variety of shapes.

Crumbs are small and spherical, larger peds are more angular and these can be
blocky or if elongated are said to be prismatic and final platy or flat.

The soil structure is a result of both the texture and the processes that have formed
the soil such as root action.

The structure has an effect on the stability of soil, with larger and more angular
peds having higher stability that soils made up of small crumbs.

The structure of the soil also has an effect on the amount of air and water in the

Crumb soils contain large portions of sand and platy soils are high in clay.

In the majority of soils the particles do not Physical Properties Single grain
exist as individual grains but are packed together in clumps or peds.

The individual peds can be distinguished as a variety of shapes. Granular

Crumbs are small and spherical, larger peds are more angular and these can be
blocky or if elongated are said to be prismatic and final platy or flat.

The soil structure is a result of both the texture and

the processes that have formed the soil such as root action. Platy or Flat

The structure has an effect on the stability of soil, with larger and more angular
peds having higher stability that soils made up of small crumbs.

The structure of the soil also has an effect on the amount of air and water in the

Crumb soils contain large portions of sand and platy soils are high in clay.


Soil drainage is defined as the rate and extent Physical Properties
of water movement in the soil, including movement across the surface as well as
downward through the soil. S

Slope is a very important factor in soil drainage.

Soil drainage is indicated by soil color.

Clear, bright colors indicate well-drained soils.

Mixed, drab, and dominantly gray colors indicate poor drainage.

Too much or too little water in the soil is equally undesirable.

The most desirable soil moisture situation is one in which approximately one-half of
the pore space of the soil is occupied by water.

Types of Soils

Therefore depending on the size of the particles in the
soil, it can be classified into these following types: Types of Soils
Sandy soil
Silty soil
Clay soil
Loamy Soil
Peaty Soil
Chalky Soil

Sandy Soil- This type has the biggest particles and the size of the particles
does determine the degree of aeration and drainage that the soil allows.

It is granular and consists of rock and mineral particles that are very small.

Therefore the texture is gritty and sandy soil is formed by the disintegration and weathering
of rocks such as limestone, granite, quartz and shale.
Silty Soil- Silty soil is considered to be one of the most fertile of soils.

It can occur in nature as soil or as suspended sediment in water column of a water body on

the surface of the earth.

It is composed of minerals like Quartz and fine organic particles.
Types of Soils
It is granular like sandy soil In case silty soil is dry it has asmoother texture and looks like dark

This type of soil can hold more moisture and at times becomes compact. It offers better
drainage and is much easier to work with when it has moisture.
Clay Soil- Clay is a kind of material that occurs naturally and consists of very fine grained
material with very less air spaces, that is the reason it is difficult to work with since the
drainage in this soil is low.

Clay soil becomes very heavy when wet.

Clay soil is formed after years of rock disintegration and weathering.

It is also formed as sedimentary deposits after the rock is weathered, eroded and
Loamy Soil- This soil consists of sand, silt and clay to some extent.

It is considered to be the perfect soil.

The texture is gritty and retains water very easily, yet the
drainage is well. Types of Soils
There are various kinds of loamy soil ranging from fertile to very muddy and thick sod.
Peaty Soil- This kind of soil is basically formed by the accumulation
of dead and decayed organic matter, it naturally contains much
more organic matter than most of the soils.

It is generally found in marshy areas. This kind of soil is formed in

wet climate.

Chalky Soil-Unlike Peaty soil, Chalky soil is very alkaline in nature and consists of a large
number of stones.

This kind of depends on the depth of the soil that is on the bed of chalk.

This kind of soil is prone to dryness and in summers.

Chalky Soil, apart from being dry also blocks the nutritional elements for the plants like Iron
and Magnesium.

The soil stabilization means the improvement of
stability or bearing power of the soil by the Soil Stabilization
use of controlled compaction, proportioning and/or the addition of suitable
admixture or stabilizers.

There are three purposes for soil stabilization.

The first one is strength improvement.

This increases the strength of the existing soil to enhance its load-bearing

The second purpose is for dust control.

This is done to eliminate or alleviate dust, generated by the

operation of equipment and aircraft during dry
weather or in arid climates.

The third purpose is soil waterproofing, which is done to preserve the natural
or constructed strength of a soil by preventing the entry of surface water.

Basic Principles of Soil Stabilization
Evaluating the properties of given soil
Soil Stabilization
Deciding the lacking property of soil and choose effective and economical method
of soil stabilization.

Designing the Stabilized soil mix for intended stability and durability values.

Effective utilization of locally available soils and other suitable stabilizing agents.

Methods of Soil Stabilization

Mechanical Stabilization
Soil Cement Stabilization
Soil Lime Stabilization
Soil Bitumen Stabilization
Lime Fly ash Stabilization.

Cement-soil Stabilization, where Portland cement
can be used to stabilize and strengthen certain Soil Stabilization
type of soils. In this regard granular soils are very effective for cement stabilization.

The required quantity of portland cement is spread over the soil uniformly which is
to be stabilized, followed by mixing it into the soil, preferably with a pulverizer-type
machine, to the specified depth, followed by fine grading or at compaction.

If the moisture content of the soil is low, it will be necessary to sprinkle the surface
with water during the process of operation.
Stabilization of soil with lime, because Lime in its hydrated form rapidly
exchanges action leading to flocculation and agglomeration provided it is
intimately mixed with the soil.

The clay type soil will then behave more like a silt type soil than clay type soil.

This transformation starts within a hour of mixing and significant changes are
realised within a very few days depending upon the plasticity index of the soil and

the amount of lime used.

Blending and Mixing Soils
This is one technique by which soil stabilization is Soil Stabilization

If the soils found are to be heterogeneous or different in their original states in the
pit itself, it should be mixed thoroughly before being used in the fill.

This can be accomplished during excavation itself by using equipment such as a

power shovel or a deep-cutting belt loader to exacavate through several layers in
one operation.

After these materials is placed on fill, further blending can be carried out by several
passes with a disk harrow.

Types of Stabilizers

Some of the additives used in soil stabilization are cement, lime, flyash,
bituminous products, and calcium chloride. Cement-
treated bases are the most commonly used for the purpose of upgrading a

poor quality soil. Soil-cement is a mixture of pulverized soil and measured amounts
of portland cement and water, compacted to a high density.
Soil Stabilization
Mechanical stabilization is accomplished by mixing or blending soils of two or
more gradations to obtain a material meeting the required specification.

The soil blending may take place at the construction site, at a central plant, or at a
borrow area.

The blended material is then spread and compacted to required densities by

conventional means.


Additive refers to a manufactured commercial product that, when added to the

soil in the proper quantities, will improve the quality of the soil layer.

use of portland cement, lime, lime-cement-fly ash, and bitumen, alone or in

combination, as additives to stabilize soils.

The selection and determination of the
percentage of additives depend upon the soil Soil Stabilization
classification and the degree of improvement in soil quality desired.

Generally, smaller amounts of additives are required to alter soil properties,

such as gradation, workability, and plasticity, than to improve the strength and
durability sufficiently to permit a thickness reduction design.

After the additive has been mixed with the soil, spreading and compacting are
accomplished by conventional means.

Earth is the oldest building material.
Mud Wall Building
It use is as widespread as humanity as well. Nearly half the worlds population lives
in structures made with some kind of earthen construction technique.

To this day, earthen construction remains the most economically viable and popular
method of construction.

Earth construction technologies are generally used to construct homes.

Other structures such as offices, stores, warehouses etc can also be made using

The most obvious advantage of earth construction is the abundance of the raw
material earth.

Other advantages of earthen construction include:
Mud Wall Building
High thermal insulating properties
High sound insulation
Not susceptible to insects or rodents
No waste generated during construction
Inert contains no toxic substances
Construction is inexpensive and simple
High workability and flexibility
Fire resistant

The following are among the more popular types of earthen construction:

Adobe (Sun-dried brick [soil & water & local fiber materials] bonded with clay
mortar; wall baring system)
Cob (Fresh lumps of mud [soil & water & local fiber materials] stacked on each other;
wall baring system)
Wattle and Daub (Woven work of sticks intertwined with twigs or bamboo covered
with mud; framework system)

Cordwood or Stone (Left over materials like slender shoot of a tree or tiny stone
bonded with mud [soil & sand & paddy husk]; wall-baring

Mud Wall Building
Rammed earth (Damp earth lay between formwork and mould and compacted by
ramming; wall baring system)
Earthen Bag (Stacking the sags of damp earth hooked up with thorn or barbed wire;
wall baring system)
Straw-bale (Plastering the bundle of hay with mud; the structure can be both
skeleton and wall baring system)
Compressed earth blocks

Adobe is air/sun dried brick from mud composed of inorganic soil and sand.

The soil must have minimum clay content of 10%.

Fibers such as straw may also be added to increasing the stability of the block as work well as

An adobe brick is typically 10 to 12 inches and weighs between 30 to 50 pounds.

Mud Wall Building
The bricks are stacked one over the other and bonded using a mud mortar.

Additives such as asphalt and fly ash help to minimize its susceptibility to moisture while
giving it additional strength.

As adobe structures are essentially stacks of mud, they require protection from water,
especially rainfall that can wash the structure away if due precautions are not taken.
It is also essential that adobe walls be
adequately tied using wood beams at
the top and base of the wall.

These beams also serve as anchors for

the roof trusses.
Modern codes require that in areas with high earthquake risk, adobe walls be reinforced with
horizontal and vertical steel.

Adobe structures have high fire resistance. Adobe is used to build multi-million dollar homes
and small hutments.

Adobe is slowly but steadily losing its popularity to other technologies but remains a useful
solution where an eco-friendly solution is desired.
Placing walls on concrete or stone foundations
Using water inhibiting additives
Plastering adobe walls with stucco
Mud Wall Building
Providing substantial overhangs


Rammed earth involves the compacting of moist soil between rigid forms to create
monolithic earth walls with similar properties as that of adobe walls.

The soil for rammed earth construction must have about 30% clay and 70% sand and small

Cement is sometimes added as a stabilizer. It is critical to ensure that the moisture content of
the wall is just right as if the mixture is too dry then it will lead to a weak and crumbly wall.

Too wet a mixture, on the other hand, will result in a mixture that will take long to dry and

Like all earth buildings, rammed earth buildings must also be placed on firm foundations
made of concrete or stone.

Mud Wall Building
The process of erecting the wall includes raising the form and pouring the earth into the
forms and then compacting it either by tampers or pneumatically.

The process results in a strong monolithic wall.

Rammed earth structures possess all the qualities and shortcomings

of other types of earth construction.

They too need surface protection against moisture.

The rammed earth walls have a compressive strength of about 1000 psi and are therefore
fairly strong.

There are several rammed earth structures around the world that have stood the test of time
fairly well.

Mud Wall Building


Cob was made by mixing the clay-based subsoil with sand, straw and water using oxen to
trample it.

The earthen mixture was then ladled onto a stone foundation in courses and trodden onto
the wall by workers in a process known as cobbing.

The construction would progress according to the time required for the prior course to dry.

After drying, the walls would be trimmed and the next course built, with lintels for later
openings such as doors and windows being placed as the wall takes shape.

Mud Wall Building
The walls of a cob house were generally about 24 inches thick, and windows were
correspondingly deep-set, giving the homes a characteristic internal appearance.

The thick walls provided excellent thermal mass which was easy to keep warm in winter and
cool in summer.

Walls with a high thermal mass value act as a thermal buffer inside the home.

The material has a long life span even in rainy climates, provided a tall foundation and large
roof overhang are present.

Wattle and daub is an ancient construction technique used to

make both interior and exterior walls.

The look and feel of wattle and daub is quite distinctive, and
when well made, a wattle and daub home can be warm and
very durable.

Mud Wall Building


Walls are usually constructed such that the pieces of wood are protrude from the mortar by
a small amount .

Walls typically range between 12 and 24 inches thick, some walls are as much as 36 inches

Cordwood homes are attractive for their visual appeal, maximization of interior space (with a
rounded plan), economy of resources, and ease of construction.

Wood usually accounts for about 40- 60% of the wall system, the remaining portion
consisting of a mortar mix and insulating fill.

Mud Wall Building
There are two main types of Cordwood Construction, Through wall and M-I-M(mortar-

In Throughwall, the mortar mix itself contains an insulative material, usually sawdust,
chopped newsprint, or paper sludge, in sometimes very high percentages by mass (80%paper

In the more common M-I-M, and unlike Brick or Through wall masonry, the mortar does not
continue throughout the wall. Instead, three or four inch(sometimes more) beads of mortar
on each side of the wall provide stability and support, with a separate insulation between

Cordwood walls can be load-bearing or laid within a post and beam framework which
provides structural reinforcement and is suitable for earthquake-prone areas.

As a load-bearing wall, the compressive strength of wood and mortar allows for roofing to
be tied directly into the wall.

Mud Wall Building


Straw-bale construction is a building method that

uses bales of straw as structural elements,
building insulation, or both.

This construction method is commonly used in natural building or "green" construction


Compressed earth blocks (CEBs) are a relatively recent technology and combine the nest
characteristics of traditional earthen technology and modern brick making processes.

The concept is akin to a miniature rammed earth wall.

Mud Wall Building
Earth is poured into moulds and compressed either manually or mechanically.

The constituents of the earth mix are the similar to those of adobe: clay, sand and additives
or stabilizers such as cement or fly ash.

CEBs structures have been found to be a lot stronger and more weather resistant than
traditional adobe structures.

There are several manually operated and mechanical block making machines available.

The Balram, Cinvaram, TEKram are all examples of manual compressors.

Mechanical CEB machines that run of diesel or gasoline engines can churn out up to 1000
units of superior quality per hour (AECT CEB Machines, 2003).

CEBs are better than other earthen construction products as they are more uniform and are
therefore easier to work with.

Additionally, they help increase the speed of construction, which is otherwise a limiting

Mud Wall Building
Also, the use of CEBs ensures a stronger structure that is possesses all the positive
characteristics of earthen construction and fewer shortcomings.

Earthen construction is an eco-friendly and low-cost technology from the past and very
relevant to the future.

Several expensive homes have been built using these technologies. The emphasis must be on
low-cost housing and earthen construction is an ideal technology to address this global

Mud Wall Building Surface Protection
Mud plaster: Mud plaster has long been used as a surface coating. Like adobe, mud plaster is
composed of clay, sand, water, and straw or grass, and therefore exhibits sympathetic
properties to those of the original adobe.

The mud plaster bonds to the adobe because the two are made of the same materials.

Although applying mud plaster requires little skill, it is a time-consuming and laborious

Once in place, the mud plaster must be smoothed.

This is done by hand; sometimes deerskins, sheepskins, and small, slightly rounded stones
are used to smooth the plaster to create a "polished" surface.

In some areas, pink or ochre pigments are mixed into the final layer and "polished."

Mud Wall Building Surface Protection
Whitewash: Whitewash has been used on earthen buildings since before recorded history.

Consisting of ground gypsum rock, water, and clay, whitewash acts as a sealer, which can be
either brushed on the adobe wall or applied with large pieces of coarse fabric such as burlap.
Initially, whitewash was considered inexpensive and easy to apply.

But its impermanence and the cost of annually renewing it has made it less popular as a
surface coating in recent years.

Lime plaster: Lime plaster, widely used in the 19th century as both an exterior and interior
coating, is much harder than mud plaster.

It is, however, less flexible and cracks easily.

It consists of lime, sand, and water and is applied in heavy coats with trowels or brushes.

To make the lime plaster adhere to adobe, walls are often scored diagonally with hatchets,
making grooves about 1-1/2 inches deep.

The grooves are filled with a mixture of lime mortar and small chips of stone or broken roof
tiles. The wall is then covered heavily with the lime plaster.
Mud Wall Building Surface Protection
Cement stucco:cement stucco came into use as an adobe surface coating in the early 20th
century for the revival styles of Southwest adobe architecture.

Cement stucco consists of cement, sand, and water and it is applied with a trowel in from 1 to
3 coats over a wire mesh nailed to the adobe surface.

This material has been very popular because it requires little maintenance when applied over
fired or stabilized adobe brick, and because it can be easily painted.

It should be noted however, that the cement stucco does not create a bond with unfired or
unstabilized adobe;

it relies on the wire mesh and nails to hold it in place.

Since nails cannot bond with the adobe, a firm surface cannot be guaranteed.

Even when very long nails are used, moisture within the adobe may cause the nails and the
wire to rust, thus, losing contact with the adobe.

Mud Wall Building Surface Protection
Other traditional surface coatings: These have included items such as paints (oil base, resin,
or emulsion), portland cement washes, coatings of plant extracts, and even coatings of fresh
animal blood (mainly for adobe floors).

Some of these coatings are inexpensive and easy to apply, provide temporary surface
protection, and are still available to the adobe owner.