Implementation of Centrifuge Technology for Pavement Design on Expansive Clays

The overall objective of this implementation project is to capitalize on the successful centrifuge characterization of expansive clays by implementing this data into a pavement design approach. Implementation will lead to substantial benefits and returns in the Austin District and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in general. This is especially relevant as it pertains to addressing problems involving the expansive nature of soils at the edge of pavement, which caused so much damage in the 2011 drought. At the heart of this implementation is the use of the new centrifuge testing device developed as part of project 0-6048, which provides direct measurement of the vertical swelling of clays using a centrifuge device. In this test, soil samples are subjected to water infiltration during a comparatively small testing period (24 hours). Then, the entire relationship between vertical strains and vertical stresses is obtained. The centrifuge approach is well-suited for pavement design because it provides more than one data point for a single normal stress. This is a significant advantage over conventional swelling tests, which not only are prohibitively long but also because conventional tests provide the vertical strain for only one vertical stress. Consequently, this approach is particularly appropriate for use with the Potential Vertical Raise (PVR) approach. The specific objectives of this project include: (1) Implementing the use of undisturbed expansive clay samples into the centrifuge testing environment to allow field testing of clay specimens collected directly in project sites, (2) Extending the generation of swell data to the locations of multiple additional projects in the Austin District, (3) Implementing a field monitoring program involving the long-term quantification of vertical raise and associated changes in soil moisture, (4) Incorporating the centrifuge swell test results into the current PVR design methodology, and demonstrating it using field monitoring data, and (5) Developing a training program suitable not only for the Austin District but to all TxDOT engineers. The accuracy and reliability of predicting and measuring swell potential is more critical than ever given the recent policy changes concerning PVR allowances. Important upcoming projects in the Austin District require proper characterization to assess the potential expansive soils. This may cost million dollars to TxDOT if proper stabilization and reinforcement techniques are not implemented due to a lack of accurate technology to characterize expansive soils. On the other hand, this may save significant resources in the long-term to TxDOT if the soils evaluation ends up indicating that stabilization is not needed. With the newly developed centrifuge technology. A robust approach can now be implemented for the major problems associated with the common expansive clays in Texas.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Texas Department of Transportation

    125 E. 11th Street
    Austin, TX  United States  78701-2483
  • Project Managers:

    Adams, Joe

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Texas, Austin

    Center for Transportation Research
    Austin, TX  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Zomberg, Jorge

  • Start Date: 20131022
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20160822
  • Source Data: RiP Project 39979

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01569087
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Texas Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 5-6048-03
  • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Jul 1 2015 2:45AM