Chapter 8 Swelling and shrinking soils
Published:June 09, 2020
Lee Jones, Vanessa Banks, Ian Jefferson, 2020. "Chapter 8 Swelling and shrinking soils", Geological Hazards in the UK: Their Occurrence, Monitoring and Mitigation – Engineering Group Working Party Report, D. P. Giles, J. S. Griffiths
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Swelling and shrinking soils are soils that can experience large changes in volume due to changes in water content. This may be due to seasonal changes in moisture content, local site changes such as leakage from water supply pipes or drains, changes to surface drainage and landscaping, or following the planting, removal or severe pruning of trees or hedges. These soils represent a significant hazard to structural engineers across the world due to their shrink–swell behaviour, with the cost of mitigation alone running into several billion pounds annually. These soils usually contain some form of clay mineral, such as smectite or vermiculite, and can be found in humid and arid/semi-arid environments where their expansive nature can cause significant damage to properties and infrastructure. This chapter discusses the properties and costs associated with shrink–swell soils, their formation and distribution throughout the UK and the rest of the world, and their geological and geotechnical characterization. It also considers the mechanisms of shrink-swell soils and their behaviour, reviewing strategies for managing them in an engineering context, before finally outlining the problem of trees and shrink–swell soils.
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Geological Hazards in the UK: Their Occurrence, Monitoring and Mitigation – Engineering Group Working Party Report
The UK is perhaps unique globally in that it presents the full spectrum of geological time, stratigraphy and associated lithologies within its boundaries. With this wide range of geological assemblages comes a wide range of geological hazards, whether they be geophysical (earthquakes, effects of volcanic eruptions, tsunami, landslides), geotechnical (collapsible, compressible, liquefiable, shearing, swelling and shrinking soils), geochemical (dissolution, radon and methane gas hazards) or georesource related (coal, chalk and other mineral extraction). An awareness of these hazards and the risks that they pose is a key requirement of the engineering geologist.
The Geological Society considered that a Working Party Report would help to put the study and assessment of geohazards into the wider social context, helping the engineering geologist to better communicate the issues concerning geohazards in the UK to the client and the public. This volume sets out to define and explain these geohazards, to detail their detection, monitoring and management and to provide a basis for further research and understanding.