Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Expansive Soils and Identification Methods

Ahmed Ali, Abbas J. Al-Taie, Ahmed Al- Kalili


Expansive soil is a well-known type of difficult soil. It can cause critical damage to civil engineering facilities. The unfavorited physical, mineralogical, and engineering characteristics are the main reasons for the difficult nature of expansive soil. Understanding specific parameters and properties of expansive soil are important to categorize and identify swell potential. Furthermore, reviewing the most useful methods for identifying and measuring the expansive soil characteristics may help the engineer to evaluate its problems. This review paper presented the main parameters of the expansive soil and reviewed different methods adopted in identifying and classifying this soil. It reviewed the direct method (using the oedometer apparatus), and the indirect method (using the plasticity index, colloidal content, and shrinkage limit) to identify the expansive soil. Finally, the main geotechnical and environmental parameters affecting the potential of soil to swell were presented, these are soil structure, plasticity, dry density, clay mineralogy, soil water chemistry, initial moisture content, moisture variations, soil permeability, climate, temperature, and groundwater


Expansive soils, colloid content, plasticity index, identifying, swell-potential, activity.

Full Text:



Jones LD, Jefferson I. Expansive soils. ICE Publishing; 2012. p. 413–441p.

Al-Busoda BS, Abbase HO. Measurements of suction and water content during saturation of

compacted expansive soil. Diyala J Eng Sci. 2015:100–109p.

Khademi F, Budiman J. Expansive soil: causes and treatments. J-manager’s. Civ Eng.


Murthy VNS. Geotechnical engineering: principles and practices of soil mechanics and

foundation engineering. CRC Press; 2002.

Erguler ZA, Ulusay R. Simple test and predictive models for assessing swell potential of Ankara

(Turkey) Clay. Eng Geol. 2003;67(3):331352p.

Nelson JD, Chao KC, Overton DD, Nelson EJ. Foundation engineering for expansive soil.

Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2015.

Hussein AF, Ali AS, Al-Taie AJ. A review on stabilization of expansive soil using different

methods. J Geotech Eng. 2019;6(3):1–9p.

Al-Baidhani A, Al-Taie AJ. Review of brick waste in expansive soil stabilization and other civil

engineering applications. J Geotech Stud. 2019;4(3):14–23p.

Holtz WG, Gibbs HJ. Engineering properties of expansive clays. T Am Soc Civ Eng.

;121(1):641–63. doi: 10.1061/TACEAT.0007325.

Chen FH. Foundation on expansive soils. Amsterdam: Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company;

Drnevich V, Sridharan A, Rao A, Sivapullaiah P. Swelling pressure of clays. Geotech Test J.

;9(1):24–33p. doi: 10.1520/GTJ10608J.

Al-Naje FQ, Abed AH, Al-Taie AJ. A review of sustainable materials to improve geotechnical

properties of soils. Al-Nahrain. J Eng Sci. 2020;23(3):289–305p.

Hussein AF, Ali AS, Al-Taie AJ. Effects of high cement dust contents on the expansive soil

properties. Malays Constr Res J. 2021;12(3):125–137p.

Al-Busoda BS. Evaluation and Correlations Associated with Liquid Limit and Plasticity Index of

Baghdād cohesive Soil. The 6th Eng Conference College of Engineering-University of Baghdad;

Al-Taie AJ. Profiles and geotechnical properties for some Basra soils. Al-Khawarizmi Eng J.


Al-Baidhani AF, Al-Taie AJ. Shrinkage and strength behavior of highly plastic clay improved by

brick dust. J Eng (Eng J). 2020;26(5):95–105. doi: 10.31026/j.eng.2020.05.07.

Seed HB, Mitchell JK, Chan CK. Studies of swell and swell pressure characteristics of compacted

clays. Highway research board; 1962; Bulletin No. 313. p. 12–39p.

Skempton AW. The colloidal activity of clays. Proceedings of the 3rd international conference

soil mechanics and foundation engineering, Switzerland I 1953. p. 57–61p.

Nelson JD, Miller DJ. Expansive soils problems and practice in foundation and pavement

engineering. John Wiley & Sons, Inc; 1992.

Gromko GJ. Review of expansive soils. J Geotech Engrg Div. 1974;100(6):667–87. doi:


Al-Taie AJ. Effect of determination method on the liquid limit of quaternary soils. Civ Eng

Beyond Limits. 2020;1(3):24–30. doi: 10.36937/cebel.2020.003.005.

Al-Taie AJ. Practical aid to identify and evaluate plasticity, swelling and collapsibility of the soil

encountered in Badrah, Shatra and Nassirya cities. J Eng Sustain Dev. 2016;20(1):38–47p.

Al-Taie AJ. Properties and behavior of dune sand as A construction material [M.Sc. thesis]. Iraq:

Civil Engineering Department, University of Baghdad; 2002.

Al-Shakarchi YJ, Al-Busoda BS, Al-Taie AJ. California bearing ratio of some Iraqi Dune soils.

Tikrit J Eng Sci. 2010;17(2):1–8. doi: 10.25130/tjes.17.2.01.

Al-Taie AJ, Al-Shakarchi Y. Dune Soils of Mesopotamian Plain as geotechnical construction

material. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing; 2016.

Pourakbar S, Asadi A, Huat BBK, Fasihnikoutalab MH. Stabilization of clayey soil using

ultrafine palm oil fuel ash (POFA) and cement. Transp Geotech. 2015;3:24–35. doi:


Al-Baidhani AF, Al-Taie AJ. Recycled crushed ceramic rubble for improving highly expansive

soil. Transp Infrastruct Geotechnol. 2020;7(3):426–44. doi: 10.1007/s40515–020–00120-z.

Hussein AF, Ali AS, Al-Taie AJ. Some geotechnical properties of plastic soil enhanced with

cement dust. J Eng. 2021a;27(10):20–33. doi: 10.31026/j.eng.2021.10.02.

Hussein AF, Ali AS, Al-Taie AJ. Effects of high cement dust contents on the expansive soil

properties. Malays Constr Res J. 2021b;12(3):125–137p.

Hussein AF, Ali AS, Al-Taie AJ. Effect of cement dust on consolidation properties of expansive

soil. IOP Conf S Mater Sci Eng. 2021c;1105(1):012102p. doi: 10.1088/1757–


Al-Baidhani A, Al-Taie AJ. Performance characteristics of low carbon waste material to stabilise

soil with extremely high plasticity. Acta Polytech. 2021;61(5):579–89. doi:


Al-Naje FQ, Abed AH, Al-Taie AJ. Reviewing domestic and mineral wastes as soil stabilizers. Int

J Eng Sci Appl. 2021;5(2):58–65p.

Al-Baidhani A, Al-Taie AJ. Stabilization of expansive soils using stone waste materials: a review.

IJO-international. J Mech Civ Eng. 2019;2(7):1–7p.

Al-Kalili A, Ali AS, Al-Taie AJ. A review on expansive soils stabilized with different pozzolanic

materials. J Eng. 2022;28(1):1–18. doi: 10.31026/j.eng.2022.01.01.

Coduto DP. Geotechnical engineering, principles and practice. New Delhi, India: Prentice Hall;

p. 137–155p.


  • There are currently no refbacks.