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TRAN3001

Highway Engineering Lecture


5
PAVEMENT MATERIALS
Soil
Types
Phases
Solid Phase

Pavement Materials
The most important pavement materials are soil,
aggregates of rock and slag (by-product of metal
smelting), bituminous binders and Portland cement.
Soil
For pavement construction, soil is the inorganic,
earthen material that is the foundation for all roads. It
is also excavated (cut) from higher elevations of a
road construction site and hauled (as fill) to construct
embankments to the required grades.
Where adequate quantities of fill cannot be obtained
from the earthworks on site, inorganic earthen
material has to be imported.
(The top layer of mostly organic material is referred to
as topsoil and typically ranges from 5 cm to 30 cm
thick. Organic material is unsuitable for pavement
construction and has to be removed ).

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Types of Soil
Soil is the product of the physical and chemical weathering
of bedrock. Wind and other natural forces have moved a
lot of this weathered material away from their original
locations.
One of the ways soils can be grouped is according to the
means by which they were naturally transported and
deposited in their present locations, examples of which are
listed below.
Residual soils
These were formed from the underlying bedrock and never
displaced. Typically fine-grained near the surface, these
soils become more coarse-grained with increasing depth
as they contain rock fragments.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Types of Soil (Contd)
Colluvial soils
Accumulations of rock debris which become
detached and are carried (by gravity) down the
slopes form these soils which are coarse and stony
since they result from physical weathering.
Alluvial soils
These soils have been deposited by moving river
waters, mostly onto their flood plains, which are
wide, flat parcels of land adjacent to the rivers.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Types of Soil (Contd)
Alluvial soils (Contd)
As the velocity of the flood water decreases the
further away it gets from the river, sand and gravel
Is deposited adjacent to the river banks, less coarse
grained material further out and the finest material
is furthest from the river.
This results in good sources of construction material
near to the river and swampy land further out.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Soil Phases
Soil can be considered as solid (mineral)
particles interspersed with void/pore spaces
which may contain water as well as air.
Highway engineering is concerned with
minimizing the void spaces and maximizing
the volume occupied by the mineral particles.
Segregating the three constituent soil phases
produces the following schematic diagram:

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Soil Phases (Contd)
e = Vv
Vs
where
Void Ratio = e Air
Volume of voids = Vv
Volume of solidsWater
= Vs
Solids

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Soil Phases (Contd)
When the soil is saturated, all the voids are
filled with water, i.e. the volume of voids (Vv)
is equal to the volume of water (Vw) and the
void ratio of the saturated soil is es :
es = Vw
Vs
If m is the moisture content of the soil :
m = Ww
Ws

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Soil Phases (Contd)
Vw = m x
s
Vs

where Ww = weight of water


Ws = weight of solids
= weight per unit volume of solids

s
w

= weight per unit volume of water

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Soil Phases (Contd)
The porosity (n) of a soil is the ratio of the
volume of the voids to the total volume of the
soil. This is usually expressed as a percentage:
n = Vv x 100 where V is the total
volume
V
of the soil
Porosity can also be expressed in terms of e:
n = Vv
x 100 = e
x 100
Vv + V s

1+e

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Soil Phases (Contd)
The percentage of the total volume of the soil
which is occupied by the air in the voids is
referred to as the percent air voids (na):
na = Va x 100 where Va is the volume
V
of air voids
The percentage of the total volume of the soil
which is occupied by the water in the voids is
referred to as the percent water voids (nw):
nw = Vw x 100

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Soil Phases (Contd)
Degree of saturation (S) is the extent to which
the voids present in a soil are filled with water. It
is the ratio of the volume of water to the volume
of voids, expressed as a percentage:
S = Vw x 100
Vv
The extent to which the existing void ratio (e) of a
soil represents the range of possible void ratios
for that soil is termed the degree of
compaction (C) or relative unit weight :

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Soil Phases (Contd)
C = emax e x 100
emax - emin
emax = void ratio of soil in its loosest state
emin = void ratio of soil in its densest
state
This means that a soil in its loosest state will
have a degree of compaction/relative unit
weight of zero while in its most compact state
it will have a relative unit weight of 100%.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Solid Phase of Soil
The mineral particles of soil range in size
from boulders to colloids. In 1908 the
Swedish soil scientist Atterberg devised a
classification system which established
limiting sizes of the particles that comprise
the solid phase of soil.
This was an important development as the
physical and chemical properties of soil are
strongly influenced by its particle size
distribution.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Solid Phase of Soil (Contd)
Gravel particles were classified as those between
20 mm and 2 mm in size, sand from 2 mm to 0.2
mm, silt 0.2 mm to 0.002 mm and clay less than
0.002 mm.
Gravel was set between the limits within which no
water is held in the pore spaces and only weakly
held.
The lower limit for sand (0.2 mm) was the point at
which water is held in the pore spaces by capillary
action.
For silt the lower limit of 0.002 mm is the smallest
size particle that can be seen with the naked eye
and particles can be coagulated to form crumbs.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Solid Phase of Soil (Contd)
How coarse or how fine a soil is depends on the
relative
amounts of the different fractions present.
Review of the technical literature on soils shows
that
different organisations (International Union of Soil
Sciences, AASHTO, etc.) accept that the most
convenient
way to define the various mineral constituents of
soil is
on the basis of particle size.
However, exactly where the limits should be set for
sand, silt, etc. is not universally accepted.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Solid Phase of Soil (Contd)
The physical and mineralogical characteristics of soil
particles are important in determining the suitability of
the soil as a pavement material.
Soil particles are composed of primary mineral fragments
together with any secondary minerals produced by
weathering.
Soil fractions produced by physical weathering i.e. gravel,
sand and coarse silt are comprised mostly of primary
minerals. The quantity of primary minerals is reduced in
the fine silt particles and in the clay fraction, the
secondary minerals predominate.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Solid Phase of Soil (Contd)
Sand and Gravel are composed primarily of quartz
(Silicon Dioxide, SiO2) particles and are chemically
inactive so the physical characteristics are of most
interest.
The individual grains are generally bulky in shape and
depending on the degree of physical weathering
received
prior to final deposition, may be angular or round.
They do not exhibit any cohesive properties and
resistance
to displacement is caused by interlocking of the grains,
called inter-granular/internal friction.
The bulkiness of the grains results in relatively large
pores, making sandy/gravel soils very permeable.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Solid Phase of Soil (Contd)
Silt particles are transitional between sand and clay.
Physically they are similar to sands in that their stability is
derived from internal friction, particularly the coarser grains
which are bulky with the same dominant quartz mineral.
Unlike sands, silts possess a limited amount of cohesion and
water passes relatively slowly through the smaller pores.
Where particles at the lower limit of the fraction predominate,
silt exhibits qualities like clay and may undergo considerable
shrinkage and expansion with changes in moisture content.

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Solid Phase of Soil (Contd)
Clay particles differ from the other fractions
both chemically and physically.
They are flat and elongated, comprising a
silica sheet bonded to an alumina sheet
(two layer type) or a three-layer type where
two silica sheets are bonded to a central
alumina sheet. (Iron or magnesium may be
present instead of aluminium).

Pavement Materials (Contd)


Solid Phase of Soil (Contd)
Because of their shape they have a much larger
surface area per unit weight than the bulkier
fractions and can influence a soils behaviour
seemingly out of proportion to the amount present
in the soil.
The very small pore spaces between the particles
make clay soils impermeable for all practical
applications.
Clay minerals carry negative electrical charges on
their surfaces which adsorb water (hold water on
the surface) and account for cohesion, shrinkage
and swelling properties.

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