Diatomaceous Soils: A New Approach

by Kris Khilnani, Assoc.; Earth Techno., 13900 Alton Pkwy., Irvine, CA 92718,
L. Michael Capik, Vice Pres.,.; Nolte & Associates, 347412 Chrisanta Dr., Mission Viejo, CA 92691,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1989, Vol. 59, Issue 2, Pg. 68-70

Document Type: Feature article


Diatomaceous soils are formed over long periods of time when the skeletal remains of plankton and other single-celled marine creatures sink and accumulate in lakes, estuaries and oceans. The skeletons retain moisture, which is enclosed in a clayey matrix. These soils exhibit high in-situ moisture content, typically between 40% and 80%, much higher than the optimum moisture content for use as structural fills. A new density criteria is being used in Southern California, where these soils are prevalent. This approach meets code requirements and saves time and money. Engineers in the past have used air drying to deal with this moisture content problem. Significant air drying, requiring discing and processing in large stockpile areas of several hundred acres was necessary to bring soils for large-scale building projects to compactable range. The operation was also time-consuming and costly. The new approach was extensively laboratory and field tested and accepted by building officials. Technical data are given, and the performance of test fills described in detail. The need for monitoring and more research is emphasized.

Subject Headings: Soil water | Water content | Field tests | Fills | Compacted soils | Lakes | Estuaries | Seas and oceans | California | United States

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