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• Study of Soil
• Soil Composition
• Soil Properties
• Tests
• Composition Test
• Plasticity Test
• Moisture Content Test
• Soil Stabilisation
• Suitability for mud walls
• “The upper layer of earth that may be dug or plowed and in which plants
• Soil is a heterogeneous aggregation of uncemented or weakly cemented
mineral grains enclosing voids of various sizes.
• These voids may contain air, water, organic matter, or different combinations
of these materials.
Soil Formation
• There are three types of rocks:
• Igneous
• Sedimentary
• Metamorphic
• Exposed to the atmosphere, rock undergoes a physical and chemical process called
weathering, which decomposes the rock into a loose, incoherent mixture of gravel,
sand, and finer material. This process over a sufficient length of time disintegrates
the three rock types and produces soils of various designations.
Types of Soil
• Residual Soil
• Transported Soil
• Alluvial Soil
• Marine Soil
• Lacustrine Soil
• Aeolian Soil
• Glacial Soil
• Colluvial Soil
Soil Composition
• Minerals: silicates, oxides and hydroxides of iron,
aluminium, manganese, etc.
• The degradation processes of vegetal residues
(leaves, fruits, dry branches or whole plants) and
dead animals lead to the creation of organic
fractions of the soil
• Water and air occupy the free spaces between solid
particles (pores), and form a thick and extended
network that allows water to move in the ground
Soil Properties
• Texture
• Clay
• Sand
• Loam
• Silt
Soil Properties
• Size
Soil Properties
• Structure
• Weak: Poorly formed indistinct aggregates
• Moderate: Well formed distinct aggregates that is moderately durable
• Strong: Durable and well formed aggregates
Soil Properties
• Shape
• Platy
• Bulky:
• Angular
• Sub-angular
• Sub-rounded
• Rounded
Soil Properties
• Compactness
• Compactness refers to how closely a mass of soil particles are packed together; for a given unit of
volume, the closer the packing, the greater its compactness and weight.
• Closely packed soil particles interlock with smaller grains filling the voids between the larger
particles. With each particle closely surrounded by other particles, grain-to-grain contact is
• Permeability
• The ability of the soil to transmit water and air.
• As the soil layers vary in characteristics, permeability also differs from one layer to another.
Soil Properties
• Consistence
• The resistance of a soil to deform or rupture and is determined by the cohesive and
adhesive properties of the soil mass
• Wet Soil: Non Sticky -> Very Plastic
• Moist Soil: Loose -> Extremely Firm
• Dry Soil: Loose -> Extremely Hard
Soil Properties

• Plasticity
• Plasticity is a property of the fine-grained portion of a soil that allows it to be deformed beyond
the point of recovery without cracking or changing volume appreciably.
• Plasticity is determined by observing the different physical states that a plastic soil passes through
as moisture conditions change. The boundaries between the different are called consistency limits
or Atterberg limits.
Soil Properties
• Soil Colour
• Soil colour gives an indication of the various processes going on in the soil as well as
the type of minerals in the soil
• Example, Red Soil -> Rich in Iron Oxide
• Dark Colour -> High accumulation of Organic matter
• Yellow Colour -> Hydroxides, Hydrated Iron Oxides etc
Effects of Soil Characteristics
• Dense, solid soil withstands greater applied loads (has greater load-bearing capacity)
than loose soil.
• Particle size has a definite relation to load-bearing capacity. Coarse-grained soils can be
compacted to a greater density than fine-grained soils because the smaller particles
tend to fill the spaces between the larger ones.
• The shape of the grains affects the bearing capacity. Angular particles tend to
interlock, form a denser mass, and become more stable than rounded particles, which
can roll or slide past one another.
Effects of Soil Characteristics
• Well-graded soils with a good range of particle sizes minimize voids. Poorly
graded soils, with their lack of one or more sizes, leave more or greater voids
and comprise a less dense mass.
• Moisture content and consistency limits aid in describing the suitability of a
soil. Typically, coarse-grained sandy or gravelly soil has good drainage
characteristics for use in its natural state. Fine-grained clayey soil with a high
plasticity index may require considerable treatment, especially if used in a
moist location.
• Moisture content test
• Atterberg limits tests
• Specific gravity of soil
• Dry density of soil
• Compaction test (Proctor’s test)
Moisture Content Test
• A soil’s moisture content is an indicator of the amount of water present. By definition,
moisture content in a sample is the ratio of the weight of water to the weight of solids.
• Methods:
• Oven drying method
• Calcium carbide method
• Torsion balance method
• Pycnometer method
• Sand bath method
• Radiation method
• Alcohol method
Specific Gravity Test
• Specific gravity is the ratio of the weight of a solid substance to the weight
of an equal volume of water.
• Methods:
• Density bottle method
• Pycnometer method
• Gas jar method
• Shrinkage limit method
• Measuring flask method
Dry Density Test
• The weight of soil particles in a given volume of sample is termed as dry
density of soil. Dry density of soil depends upon void ratio and specific
gravity of soil. Based on values of dry density soil is classified into dense,
medium dense and loose categories.
• Methods:
• Core cutter method
• Sand replacement method
• Water-displacement method.
Atterberg’s Limit Test
• To measure the critical water content of a fine grained soil, Atterberg provided 3
limits which exhibits the properties of fine grained soil at different conditions.
• The liquid limit (LL) is that point at which the material contains the greatest water content and
remains plastic; additional water causes it to become a thick liquid.
• The plastic limit (PL) is that point at which the material contains the lowest water content and
remains plastic; less water causes it to become brittle and break into fragments if remolding is
• The plasticity index (PI) is the numerical difference between the LL and the PL
• A large PI indicates a very plastic soil; a small PI denotes a soil with little plasticity
Compaction Test
• Compaction test is conducted to
determine compaction characteristics
of soil. Compaction of soil is nothing
but reducing air voids in the soil by
densification. The degree of
Compaction is measured in terms of
dry density of soil.
Soil Stabilisation
• When the available soil is not suitable enough for construction then the soil can be
used by manipulating its composition by adding suitable stabilizers.
• Stabilizing enhances the given property of the soil type.
• Increase Tensile and Shear strength.
• Reduce shrinkage. Most common and effective stabilizer is Soil itself. Cement, is the
best example of a modern contemporary stabilizer. Various other indigenous
stabilizers include:
• Straw, Plant Juices, Gum Arabic, Sugar Or Molasses, Cow Dung, Animal Urine, Tannic Acid, Oil
Stabilisation using Cement
• The soil stabilized with cement is known as soil cement
• The appropriate amounts of cement needed for different types of soils may be as
• Gravels – 5 to 10%
• Sands – 7 to 12%
• Silts – 12 to 15%, and
• Clays – 12 – 20%
• The quantity of cement for a compressive strength of 25 to 30 kg/cm2 should
normally be sufficient for tropical climate for soil stabilization.
Stabilisation using Lime
• Slaked lime is very effective in treating heavy plastic clayey soils. Lime may be
used alone or in combination with cement, bitumen or fly ash.
• Plasticity index of highly plastic soils are reduced by the addition of lime
with soil. There is an increase in the optimum water content and a decrease
in the maximum compacted density and he strength and durability of soil
Stabilisation with Bitumen
• Asphalts and tars are bituminous materials which are used for stabilization of
soil, generally for pavement construction. Bituminous materials when added
to a soil, it imparts both cohesion and reduced water absorption.
• Types:
• Sand bitumen stabilization
• Soil Bitumen stabilization
• Water proofed mechanical stabilization, and
• Oiled earth
Chemical Stabilization of Soil
• Calcium chloride being hygroscopic and deliquescent is used as a water
retentive additive in mechanically stabilized soil bases and surfacing. The
vapor pressure gets lowered, surface tension increases and rate of
evaporation decreases. The freezing point of pure water gets lowered and it
results in prevention or reduction of frost heave
Electrical Stabilisation of Clayey Soils
• Electrical stabilization of clayey soils is done by method known as electro-
osmosis. This is an expensive method of soil stabilization and is mainly used
for drainage of cohesive soils.
Soil Stabilization by Grouting
• Stabilizers are introduced by injection into the soil. This method is not useful for
clayey soils because of their low permeability. This is a costly method for soil
• Methods:
• Clay grouting
• Chemical grouting
• Chrome lignin grouting
• Polymer grouting, and
• Bituminous grouting
Soil Stabilization by Geotextiles and Fabrics

• Geotextiles are porous fabrics made of synthetic materials such as

polyethylene, polyester, nylons and polyvinyl chloride. Woven, non-woven
and grid form varieties of geotextiles are available.
• Geotextiles have a high strength.
• When properly embedded in soil, it contributes to its stability. It is used in
the construction of unpaved roads over soft soils.
• Reinforcing the soil for stabilization by metallic strips into it and providing
an anchor or tie back to restrain a facing skin element.
Suitability of Soil for Mud Walls
• A soil contains four components: gravel, sand, silt and clay. In concrete, the binder of gravel
and sand is cement.
• In a soil, the binder is silt & clay. But silt and clay are not stable in water. Thus, the aim of
stabilization is to stabilize silt and clay against water, so as to give lasting properties with the
minimum of maintenance, hence the soil would be suitable for building Mud Walls
• Cob
• Adobe
• Wattle and Daub
• CSEB: Compressed Stabilised Earth Block