Geotechnical engineering practice for collapsible soils

Sandra Houston, William N. Houston, Claudia Zapata, Chris Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Conditions in arid and semi-arid climates favor the formation of the most problematic collapsible soils. The mechanisms that account for almost all naturally occurring collapsible soil deposits are debris flows, rapid alluvial depositions, and wind-blown deposits (loess). Collapsible soils are moisture sensitive in that increase in moisture content is the primary triggering mechanism for the volume reduction of these soils. One result of urbanization in arid regions is an increase in soil moisture content. Therefore, the impact of development-induced changes in surface and groundwater regimes on the engineering performance of moisture sensitive arid soils, including collapsible soils, becomes a critical issue for continued sustainable population expansion into arid regions. In practicing collapsible soils engineering, geotechnical engineers are faced with (1) identification and characterization of collapsible soil sites, (2) estimation of the extent and degree of wetting, (3) estimation of collapse strains and collapse settlements, and (4) selection of design/mitigation alternatives. Estimation of the extent and degree of wetting is the most difficult of these tasks, followed by selection of the best mitigation alternative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-355
Number of pages23
JournalGeotechnical and Geological Engineering
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001


  • Arid soils
  • Collapsible soils
  • Identification
  • Mitigation
  • Wetting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science
  • Geology


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