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Strength characterisation of soil-based construction materials

Beckett, C.T.S.; Augarde, C.E.; Easton, D.; Easton, T.

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C.T.S. Beckett

D. Easton

T. Easton


Rammed earth (RE) is a venerable construction technique, gaining attention today owing to its environmental and sustainable qualities. A key obstacle to its wider adoption is a lack of strength characterisation methods to aid in design and conservation. Research over the past decade has demonstrated that suction is the key mechanism behind strength and strength gain. As suction changes with the building's environment, being able to predict strength changes with suction is essential for practitioners and conservators alike. This paper presents a method for predicting RE strengths based on the extended Mohr–Coulomb (EMC) framework. Construction of an EMC failure envelope in the residual suction range is discussed and the use of a planar envelope is justified. Unconfined compression and indirect tensile tests on two RE soils are used to construct this envelope and methods to predict strengths from it are derived. Excellent agreement between measured and predicted strengths is also found for available data in the literature. Simplifications are identified to adapt the developed technique to suit RE practice and a suitable experimental procedure is outlined. Finally, the revised experimental procedure is employed at an existing RE construction facility to successfully predict strengths of a compacted Californian sandy loam.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 4, 2017
Online Publication Date Apr 9, 2018
Publication Date May 1, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 23, 2017
Publicly Available Date Apr 9, 2019
Journal Géotechnique
Print ISSN 0016-8505
Electronic ISSN 1751-7656
Publisher ICE Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 68
Issue 5
Pages 400-409
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (Revised version) (956 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Revised version Permission is granted by ICE Publishing to print one copy for personal use. Any other use of these PDF files is subject to reprint fees.

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