oa Civil Engineer in South Africa - Soft clays : problem soils in South Africa - state of the art

Volume 27, Issue 7
  • ISSN : 0009-7845



Recent infrastructure developments, primarily along the Natal coast for roads, railways and harbours, have highlighted the significant problems of settlement and stability of embankment and structures on soft clays. Soft clays are not a problem specific to South Africa, and the depositional history, engineering geological and geotechnical properties are similar to those for recent alluvial deposits elsewhere. Nevertheless, there are differences. Probably the most notable is that the alluvial deposits tend to be extremely variable, with sand, silt and clay strata being juxtaposed in a complex pattern both laterally and vertically. This leads to difficulties in ensuring adequate investigation of the strata, which in turn leads to problems of realistically predicting times for settlement. This review discusses the identification, analysis, design and construction on soft clays, giving particular attention to those aspects pertinent to local practice.

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