Chapter 2 Desert environments
Published:January 01, 2012
D. J. Nash, Engineering Group Working Party, 2012. "Chapter 2 Desert environments", Hot Deserts: Engineering, Geology and Geomorphology Engineering Group Working Party Report, M. J. Walker
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The majority of hazards to construction in desert regions are driven by geomorphological processes at the surface and geological processes within the near-surface. Most of these processes, such as mass movement or fluvial activity, are not unique to deserts and operate in a wide variety of environments. However, as noted in Chapter 1, some, including aeolian erosion and salt weathering, are much more effective or assume a greater relative importance in an arid zone. Geomorphological processes frequently lead to the creation of landforms, many of which are more prevalent in desert environments (e.g. dunes and playa lakes) and pose specific problems for engineering (Fig. 2.1).
Climatic conditions in deserts can also pose significant operational difficulties during the construction process. Major problems are caused by the wide diurnal (i.e. daily) temperature fluctuations experienced in most desert regions, and the quality and quantity of water available during construction (cf. Chapter 9).
In addition, high rates of water evaporation make the effective curing of concrete difficult. There are contamination issues caused by the deposition of windborne saline dust, and the introduction of chloride and sulphate salts by capillary rise mechanisms. Such conditions may also lead to the rapid deterioration of concrete, and long-term damage to roads and other engineering structures (Cooke et al. 1982; Fookes 1995; Walker 2002).
Geomorphological processes are primarily driven by wind, surface and subsurface water, solar radiation and/or gravity (see Chapter 3). These factors are controlled by variations in
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Hot Deserts: Engineering, Geology and Geomorphology Engineering Group Working Party Report
This volume provides an authoritative and comprehensive state-of-the-art review of hot desert terrains in all parts of the world, their geomaterials and influence on civil engineering site investigation, design and construction. It primarily covers conditions and materials in modern hot deserts, but there is also coverage of unmodified ancient desert soils that exhibit engineering behaviour similar to modern desert materials. Thorough and up-to-date guidance on modern field evaluation and ground investigation techniques in hot arid areas is provided, including reference to a new approach to the desert model and detailed specialized assessments of the latest methods for materials characterization and testing.
The volume is based on world-wide experience in hot desert terrain and draws upon the knowledge and expertise of the members of a Geological Society Engineering Group Working Party comprising practising geologists, geomorphologists and civil engineers with a wealth of varied, but complementary experience of working in hot deserts.
This is an essential reference book for professionals, as well as a valuable textbook for students. It is written in a style that is accessible to the non-specialist. A comprehensive glossary is also included.