Reading: Stabilization of Soft Clay for Irrigation Structures for Efficient Use of Water


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Stabilization of Soft Clay for Irrigation Structures for Efficient Use of Water


M. M. Mubeen

Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau, LK
About M. M.

Civil Engineer

BSc Eng., MSc (Hydraulic Engineering), Netherlands, AMIE (SL)

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Clay-lime improvement is an effective means to improve soft clay soil. Lime stabilization especially improves the strength and the workability of the clay soil. In addition to that, lime improvement provides more resistance to the soil structure and to the effect of weather on the soil structure. The purpose of the study is to improve the irrigation structures constructed in soft clay in order to increase the efficiency of irrigation and drainage systems that would insure a proper and efficient water management system. This study has investigated lime stabilization of soft clay and the possibility of utilizing waste rock powder produced in crusher plants as a supplemental material for the lime stabilization in order to increase the strength of the soil structure. The purpose of the study was to apply the results especially in irrigation projects in order to avoid the problems of soft clay on irrigation structures in Sri Lanka. However, the results and conclusions can be considered for other regions, where the same type of soft clay problems exist. The Dutch Oostvaardersplassen (OVP) soft clay, which has a high plasticity, low shear strength and high natural water content and lime (house burned, locally made from the eastern part of Sri Lanka) and waste rock material (from local rock crushers from Sri Lanka) were chosen to carryout the investigations.


The results of unconfined compressive strength for different water contents of clay and also for different lime and waste rock powder contents show an excellent increase in strength and workability. The waste rock powder proved to increase the effect of lime stabilization. The strength improvement caused by waste rock powder is more significant for those soils, which have a low clay content. Since, in irrigation projects, a wide range of clay soils exist, this investigation may be useful to utilize waste rock powder in order to improve the quality and the durability of the foundation of irrigation structures in the long run.


Therefore, the application of lime and rock material improvement on soft clay in irrigation projects may be a useful approach to stabilize soft soils and improve medium scale shallow foundation irrigation structures, road embankments and canal embankments, including repairing canal leaks. It has also been found that by applying this method in irrigation projects in Sri Lanka, the stabilization cost for structures on soft clay can be significantly reduced compared to other methods.

How to Cite: Mubeen, M.M., 2007. Stabilization of Soft Clay for Irrigation Structures for Efficient Use of Water. Engineer: Journal of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka, 40(1), pp.53–62. DOI:
Published on 24 Jan 2007.
Peer Reviewed


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