Diatomaceous soils: a less than cromulent engineering material

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 62)


Diatoms are unicellular microalgae found in both fresh and salt water around the world, and their fossils have a large impact on geotechnical behaviour of soil deposits. The diatom cell wall, called a frustule, is comprised of hydrated silicon dioxide. The frustule has very high intra particle porosity and an intricately patterned porous surface. Previous studies show non-standard geotechnical behavior for diato- maceous soils: they are extraordinarily porous (sometimes up to 90% voids by volume), have high liquid limits and plastic limits, and are very compressible, yet they exhibit large shear strengths. This manuscript provides a broad review of previous work on the engineering behavior of diatomaceous soils. This review is then supplemented by laboratory and in-situ characterization results for diatomaceous soils found in the northwest United States which show that standard geotechnical interpretations and correlations are not ap- propriate for diatomaceous soils.


diatomaceous soil problem soils laboratory testing in-situ characterization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Portland State UniversityPortlandUSA

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