American Society of Civil Engineers

Soil-Cement-Bentonite Slurry Walls

by Christopher R. Ryan, M.ASCE, (President, Geo-Solutions Inc., 201 Penn Center Blvd, Suite 401, Pittsburgh, 15235, PA; Civil Engineer, MS, BSCE E-mail: and Steven R. Day, M.ASCE, (Vice President, Geo-Solutions Inc., 26 West Dry Creek Circle, Suite 600, Littleton, CO, 80120; MS, BSCE E-mail:

pp. 713-727, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Deep Foundations 2002: An International Perspective on Theory, Design, Construction, and Performance
Abstract: Soil-Cement-Bentonite (SCB) slurry walls have been used with increasing frequency in recent years to provide barriers to the lateral flow of groundwater in situations where the strength of a normal soil-bentonite wall would be inadequate to carry foundation loads. The addition of cement to the backfill blend allows the backfill to set and form a more rigid system that can support greater overlying loads. Construction and quality control for the SCB wall is more demanding than that needed for conventional soil-bentonite slurry walls. Backfill mixing, sampling and testing of this type of wall involve more exacting procedures. Recommendations are made herein for methods to carry out pre-job design mix testing and in-field quality control testing for the most reliable results. Designing the SCB backfill is a complex issue involving conflicting actions of the various materials involved. While the SCB wall provides additional strength, permeability is one property that generally suffers in comparison to soil-bentonite slurry walls. A normal permeability specification would be a maximum of 1 x 10–6 cm/sec. With special attention to materials and procedures, a specification of a maximum 5 x 10–7 can be achieved. Data are presented from design mix studies and field-testing programs to illustrate the effect of increasing concentrations of the key materials in the mix design and also the impact of other factors such as time on the measured properties. Comparisons are made between soil-cement and SCB materials as used in slurry walls and other types of installations. The SCB material is normally highly variable, even when mixed under carefully controlled conditions; engineers must account for this variability in designs and when drafting specifications.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Soil cement
Slurry walls
Deep foundations