American Society of Civil Engineers

Review of Wetting-Induced Collapse in Compacted Soil

by Evert C. Lawton, M.ASCE, (Asst. Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Utah, 3220 Merrill Engrg. Bldg., Salt Lake City, UT 84112), Richard J. Fragaszy, M.ASCE, (Consulting Geotech. Engr., 1091 Summit Circle, Watkinsville, GA 30677), and Mark D. Hetherington, A.M.ASCE, (Pres., Hetherington Engrg., 5245 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA 92008)

Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, Vol. 118, No. 9, September 1992, pp. 1376-1394, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Discussion: by Orencio Monje Vilar    (See full record)
Closure:(See full record)
Abstract: As high earth dams, deep compacted highway embankments, and other thick compacted fills become more common, it is imperative that engineers consider and control the potential for wetting-induced collapse in compacted fills. Problems associated with collapse settlements in compacted fills include damage to structures and foundations placed on fills; cracking and slope failure within fills; damage to pavements and subgrades placed on highway embankments; piping, seepage losses, and failure in earth dams; as well as distress or failure of underground utilities. In contrast to naturally deposited soils, whose potential for collapse is determined by natural processes, an engineer can control the potential for collapse in a compacted fill during the placement process. In this paper, a synthesis is presented of the writers’ experience, research, and extensive literature review of the mechanisms causing collapse, soil parameters affecting the occurrence and magnitude of collapse, and case histories in which substantial damage from collapse settlements has occurred.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Case studies
Swelling (material)