American Society of Civil Engineers

Geotechnical Characteristics of Residual Soils

by Frank C. Townsend, M.ASCE, (Prof. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. 32611)

Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, Vol. 111, No. 1, January 1985, pp. 77-94, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Discussion: by D. Morris    (See full record)
Discussion: by John Pitts and et al.    (See full record)
Discussion: by J. B. Queiroz de Carvalho    (See full record)
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Abstract: Residual soils are products of chemical weathering and thus their characteristics are dependent upon environmental factors of climate, parent material, topography and drainage, and age. These conditions are optimized in the tropics where well-drained regions produce reddish lateritic soils rich in iron and aluminum sesquioxides and kaolinitic clays. Conversely, poorly drained areas trend towards montmorillonitic expansive black clays. Andosols develop over volcanic ash and rock regions and are rich in allophane (amorphous silica) and metastable halloysite. The geological origins greatly affect the resulting engineering characteristics. Both lateritic soils and andosols are susceptible to property changes upon drying, and exhibit compaction and strength properties not indicative of their classification limits. Both soils have been used successfully in earth dam construction, but attention must be given to seepage control through the weathered rock. Conversely, black soils are unpopular for embankments. Lateritic soils respond to cement stabilization and, in some cases, lime stabilization. Andosols should also respond to lime treatment and cement treatments if proper mixing can be achived. Black expansive residual soils respond to lime treatment by demonstrating strength gains and decreased expansiveness. Rainfall induced landslides are typical of residual soil deposits.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Residual soils
Environmental issues
Geotechnical engineering
Soil classification
Soil properties
Soil strength