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Development of microstructure in compacted earthen building materials

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnsaturated Soils - Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Unsaturated Soils
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780415604291
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011
Event5th International Conference on Unsaturated Soils - Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 6 Sep 20108 Sep 2010

Publication series

NameUnsaturated Soils - Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Unsaturated Soils


Conference5th International Conference on Unsaturated Soils


The earthen construction material rammed earth (RE) is effectively a manufactured unsaturated soil. The sources of strength in RE are presumed to be suction, interlock and cementation. Previous work (Jaquin et al., 2009) has proved the link between the first of these features and strength, and cementation is also reasonably well understood. What remains unclear is the nature of the particle interlock, which is controlled by the material microstructure (i.e. the particle and void size distributions and the arrangement of water held at menisci or in bulk) and so the compaction process by which the material is made is of major significance. In this paper we present initial results from laboratory testing on artificial RE materials, to investigate microstructure formation during compaction. Use was made of so-called "transparent" clay materials, and a specially constructed compaction chamber to enable particle movements to be viewed more clearly. Novel use of a document scanner allowed images of the compacted material to be acquired. Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) software was used to determine particle displacements from the scanned images. Various difficulties with the procedure are outlined and some results are presented showing the movement of particles and the consequential development of microstructure.

    Research areas

  • Rammed earth, Compaction, TRANSPARENT SOIL


5th International Conference on Unsaturated Soils


Barcelona, Spain

Event: Conference

ID: 35571245