Review of Expansive Soils

by Gerald J. Gromko, (M.ASCE), Asst. Prof.; Civ. and Envir. Engrg. Dept., Univ. of Colorado at Denver, Denver, CO,

Serial Information: Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, 1974, Vol. 100, Issue 6, Pg. 667-687

Document Type: Journal Paper


Numerous man-made structures around the world have been subjected to considerable damage due to differential heave from moisture absorbed by expansive clay foundation soils. It has been estimated that the annual cost of damage from expansive soils in the United States alone is $2.3 billion. The actual heave is a function of many factors, e.g., climatic conditions, moisture content of the soil immediately prior to placement of the structure, the amount and type of foundation soils, and the overburden load at the foundation level. Of the three most prominent clay minerals—illite, kaolinite, montmorillonite—the latter constitutes the most expansive type of clay soil. The current design practice for construction in expansive clay subsoil starts with a study of the site to determine the soil's characteristics. The appropriate correction action may include stabilization by chemical means, presaturation, compaction, and the design of engineered-type foundations, such as pier and grade-beam, and reinforced slabs. The relative cost of alternative designs should be evaluated in terms of the risks involved.

Subject Headings: Expansive soils | Soil water | Clays | Soil properties | Foundations | Soil classification | Heave | Benefit cost ratios | United States

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