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Optimum water content tests for earthen construction materials

Smith, J.C.; Augarde, C.E.

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J.C. Smith


There is considerable interest in earthen construction materials, owing to their inherent sustainability, and also in the conservation of heritage structures. For new-build in situ construction a key aspect of quality control is the achievement of full compaction to maximum dry density. At present the guidance available in this area to those using these materials varies from British Standard tests to heuristic-based methods developed by practitioners. In this paper, the various tests are compared for different soil mixes and also to judge the influence of the test operator. The study demonstrates shortcomings in the heuristic methods and indicates that, for modern standards of quality control to be achieved, alternative tests should be used.


Smith, J., & Augarde, C. (2014). Optimum water content tests for earthen construction materials. Construction Materials, 167(2), 114-123.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2014
Deposit Date Dec 21, 2012
Publicly Available Date Oct 2, 2014
Journal Proceedings of the ICE - Construction Materials
Print ISSN 1747-650X
Electronic ISSN 1747-6518
Publisher ICE Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 167
Issue 2
Pages 114-123
Keywords Codes of practice & standards, Geotechnical engineering, Granular materials.


Published Journal Article (406 Kb)

Copyright Statement
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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