Skip to main content

Improving the geotechnical properties of high expansive clay using limestone powder


Soils are the most used construction materials in engineering projects, such as embankments, highways, and railways, in which huge amounts of soil are required. Unfortunately, sometimes, these soils are high expansive clay that makes problems to these projects, and at the same time, there are waste and by-product materials such as limestone powder that has not appropriately exploited in Iraq and causes environmental problems. This study aims to investigate the effect of limestone powder on the geotechnical properties such as unconfined compressive strength (UCS), compressibility indices, Atterberg limits, and swelling characteristics of high-plasticity clay (CH) in Erbil city in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as this region is rich in limestone rocks. The high expansive clay was treated by different percentages (6%, 12%, 18%, 24%, 30%, and 36%) of limestone powder. The results indicated that the geotechnical properties could be improved by using limestone powder. Also, the optimum percentage of limestone powder that can be added to expansive soil is recommended.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15


  1. 1.

    Ramos MR, Melo VF, Uhlmann A, Dedecek RA, Curcio GR (2015) Clay mineralogy and genesis of fragipan in soils from Southeast Brazil. Catena 135:22–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Ito A, Wagai R (2017) Global distribution of clay-size minerals on land surface for biogeochemical and climatological studies. Sci Data 4(1):170103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Behnood A (2018) Soil and clay stabilization with calcium- and non-calcium-based additives: a state-of-the-art review of challenges, approaches and techniques. Transp Geotech 17:14–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Khadka SD, Jayawickrama PW, Senadheera S, Segvic B (2020) Stabilization of highly expansive soils containing sulfate using metakaolin and fly ash based geopolymer modified with lime and gypsum. Transp Geotech 23:100327.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Al-Taie A, Disfani MM, Evans R, Arulrajah A, Horpibulsuk S (2016) Swell-shrink cycles of lime stabilized expansive subgrade. Procedia Eng 143:615–622.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Sabat AK, Mohanta S (2016) Performance of limestone dust stabilized expansive soil-fly ash mixes as construction material. Int J Civil Eng Technol 7(6):63

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Liu Y, Chang C-W, Namdar A, She Y, Lin C-H, Yuan X, Yang Q (2019) Stabilization of expansive soil using cementing material from rice husk ash and calcium carbide residue. Constr Build Mater 221:1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Thyagaraj T, Zodinsanga S (2014) Swell–shrink behaviour of lime precipitation treated soil. Proc Inst Civil Eng Ground Improv 167(4):260–273.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Ikeagwuani CC, Nwonu DC (2019) Emerging trends in expansive soil stabilisation: a review. J Rock Mech Geotech Eng 11(2):423–440.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Parhi PS, Garanayak L, Mahamaya M, Das SK (2018) Stabilization of an expansive soil using alkali activated fly ash based geopolymer. In: McCartney J (ed) Advances in characterization and analysis of expansive soils and rocks. Springer, Cham, pp 36–50

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Ogila WAM (2016) The impact of natural ornamental limestone dust on swelling characteristics of high expansive soils. Environ Earth Sci 75(24):1493.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Nalbantoğlu Z (2004) Effectiveness of class C fly ash as an expansive soil stabilizer. Constr Build Mater 18(6):377–381.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Bhuvaneshwari S, Robinson R, Gandhi S (2010) Micro-fabric and mineralogical studies on the stabilization of an expansive soil using inorganic additives. Int J Geotech Eng 4(3):395–405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Seco A, Ramírez F, Miqueleiz L, García B (2011) Stabilization of expansive soils for use in construction. Appl Clay Sci 51(3):348–352.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Thyagaraj T, Suresh P (2012) In-situ stabilization of an expansive soil in desiccated state. Int J Geotech Eng 6(3):287–296.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Liu S, Bai F, Wang Y, Wang S, Li Z (2013) Treatment for Expansive Soil Channel Slope with Soilbags. J Aerospace Eng 26(4):657–666.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Dang LC, Fatahi B, Khabbaz H (2016) Behaviour of expansive soils stabilized with hydrated lime and bagasse fibres. Procedia Eng 143:658–665.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Fattah MY, Salim NM, Irshayyid EJ (2020) Swelling behavior of unsaturated expansive soil. Transp Infrastruct Geotechnol.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Fattah MY, Salman FA, Nareeman BJJAMS (2010) A treatment of expansive soil using different additives. Science 15(4):290

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Al-Joulani N (2012) Effect of stone powder and lime on strength compaction and CBR properties of fine soils. Jordan J Civil Eng 159(697):1–16

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Afrin H (2017) A review on different types soil stabilization techniques. Int J Transp Eng Technol 3(2):19–24

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Ibrahim HH, Mawlood YI, Alshkane YM (2019) Using waste glass powder for stabilizing high-plasticity clay in Erbil city-Iraq. Int J Geotech Eng 5:1–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Baruah D, Goel S, Gupta C, Sahu AK (2020) Ground improvement using municipal solid waste ash. In: Barai SV, Mehta A (eds) Advances in sustainable construction materials and geotechnical engineering. Springer, Singapore, pp 271–280

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Naseem A, Mumtaz W, Fazale J, De Backer H (2019) Stabilization of expansive soil using tire rubber powder and cement kiln dust. Soil Mech Found Eng 56(1):54–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Kumar A, Mittal (2019) A utilization of municipal solid waste ash for stabilization of cohesive soil. In: Reddy KR, Bansal A (eds) Environmental geotechnology. Springer, Singapore, pp 133–139

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Sharma AK, Sivapullaiah PV (2012) Improvement of strength of expansive soil with waste granulated blast furnace slag. GeoCongress 2012:3920–3928.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Seda JH, Lee JC, Carraro JAH (2007) Beneficial use of waste tire rubber for swelling potential mitigation in expansive soils. In: Soil improvement, pp 1–9.

  28. 28.

    Ji-ru Z, Xing C (2002) Stabilization of expansive soil by lime and fly ash. J Wuhan Univ Technol Mater Sci Ed 17(4):73–77.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Khemissa M, Mahamedi A (2014) Cement and lime mixture stabilization of an expansive overconsolidated clay. Appl Clay Sci 95:104–110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Al-Rawas AA, Hago AW, Al-Sarmi H (2005) Effect of lime, cement and Sarooj (artificial pozzolan) on the swelling potential of an expansive soil from Oman. Build Environ 40(5):681–687.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31.

    Firoozi AA, Guney Olgun C, Firoozi AA, Baghini MS (2017) Fundamentals of soil stabilization. Int J Geo-Eng 8(1):26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Ali M, Saidur R, Hossain M (2011) A review on emission analysis in cement industries. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 15(5):2252–2261

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Taha MR, Khan TA, Jawad IT, Firoozi AA, Firoozi AA (2013) Recent Experimental Studies in Soil Stabilization with Bio-Enzymes–A. Electron J Geotech Eng 18:3881–3894

    Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Mikulčić H, Vujanović M, Duić N (2013) Reducing the CO2 emissions in Croatian cement industry. Appl Energy 101:41–48

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Eujine GN, Chandrakaran S, Sankar N (2017) Accelerated subgrade stabilization using enzymatic lime technique. J Mater Civil Eng 29(9):04017085.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    Nayaka RR, Alengaram UJ, Jumaat MZ, Yusoff SB, Alnahhal MF (2018) High volume cement replacement by environmental friendly industrial by-product palm oil clinker powder in cement—lime masonry mortar. J Clean Prod 190:272–284.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Al-Azzo SI (2009) Treatment of expansive clayey soil in AL-Wahda Districtat Mosul City with crushed limestone. Iraqi Natl J Earth Sci 9(2):1–10

    Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Al-Baidhani A, Al-Taie A (2019) Stabilization of expansive soils using stone waste materials: a review. IJO Int J Mech Civil Eng 2(07):01–07

    Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Alqaisi R, Le TM, Khabbaz H (2020) Applications of recycled sustainable materials and by-products in soil stabilization. In: Jamiolkowski M, Manassero M, Shehata H (eds) Recent thoughts in geoenvironmental engineering. Springer International Publishing, Cham, pp 91–117

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Roohbakhshan A, Kalantari B (2013) Stabilization of clayey soil with lime and waste stone powder. Int J Sci Res Knowl 1(12):547

    Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Abdulrasool AS (2015) Strength improvement of clay soil by using stone powder. J Eng 21(5):72–84

    Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Agarwal N (2015) Effect of stone dust on some geotechnical properties of soil. IOSR J Mech Civil Eng 12(1):61–64

    Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Dixit DM, Patil DK (2016) Utilization of stone dust to improve the properties of expansive soil. Int J Civil Eng Technol (IJCIET) 7(4):440–447

    Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    Chetia M, Sridharan A (2016) A review on the influence of rock quarry dust on geotechnical properties of soil. Geo-Chicago 2016:179–190

    Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Maulood YI (2015) Control of Cracks due to Drying Shrinkage of an Expansive Soil Using Different Drying Mechanisms and Filler Additive. ZANCO J Pure Appl Sci 27(1):31–40

    Google Scholar 

  46. 46.

    Pastor J, Tomás R, Cano M, Riquelme A, Gutiérrez E (2019) Evaluation of the improvement effect of limestone powder waste in the stabilization of swelling clayey soil. Sustainability.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    ASTM_D854 (2014) Standard test methods for specific gravity of soil solids by water pycnometer. ASTM Internationa, West Conshohocken, PA

    Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    ASTM_D698 (2014) Standard test methods for laboratory compaction characteristics of soil using standard effort. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

    Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    ASTM_D6913 (2017) Standard test methods for particle-size distribution (gradation) of soils using sieve analysis. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

    Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    ASTM_D4318 (2017) Standard test methods for liquid limit, plastic limit, and plasticity index of soils. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

    Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    BS_1377-2 (1990) Methods of test for soils for civil engineering purposes. Part 2: Classification test. British Standards Institution, London

  52. 52.

    ASTM_D2487 (2017) Standard practice for classification of soils for engineering purposes (unified soil classification system). ASTM International, West Conshohocken

    Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Chen FH (1975) Foundations on expansive soils, vol 12. Developments in Geotechnical Engineering. Elsevier, Amsterdam

  54. 54.

    ASTM_D2435 (2011) Standard test methods for one-dimensional consolidation properties of soils using incremental loading. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

    Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    ASTM_D4546 (2014) Standard test methods for one-dimensional swell or collapse of soils. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

    Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    ASTM_D2166 (2016) Standard test method for unconfined compressive strength of cohesive soil. ASTM International, West Conshohocken

    Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Sharma AK, Sivapullaiah PV (2016) Ground granulated blast furnace slag amended fly ash as an expansive soil stabilizer. Soils Found 56(2):205–212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Das BM (2016) Principles of foundation engineering. 8th Edn. Cengage learning, The USA

  59. 59.

    Alrubaye AJ, Hasan M, Fattah MY (2018) Effects of using silica fume and lime in the treatment of kaolin soft clay. Geomech Eng 14:247–255.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. 60.

    Fattah MY, Al-Saidi ÀA, Jaber MM (2015) Characteristics of Clays Stabilized with Lime-Silica Fume Mix. Italian Journal of Geosciences 134(1):104–113.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. 61.

    Fattah MY, Al-Saidi AaA, Jaber MM (2014) Consolidation properties of compacted soft soil stabilized with Lime-Silica Fume mix

  62. 62.

    Ahmed S, Swindale LD, El-Swaify SA (1969) Effects of adsorbed cations on physical properties of tropical red earths and tropical black earths. J Soil Sci 20(2):255–268.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. 63.

    Ene E, Okagbue C (2009) Some basic geotechnical properties of expansive soil modified using pyroclastic dust. Eng Geol 107(1):61–65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. 64.

    Ni Q, Tan TS, Dasari GR, Hight DW (2004) Contribution of fines to the compressive strength of mixed soils. Géotechnique 54(9):561–569.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. 65.

    Jahandari S, Saberian M, Zivari F, Li J, Ghasemi M, Vali R (2019) Experimental study of the effects of curing time on geotechnical properties of stabilized clay with lime and geogrid. Int J Geotech Eng 13(2):172–183.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. 66.

    Hassan M, Lojander M, Ravaska O (2008) Characteristics of soft clay stabilized for construction purposes. In: Advances in transportation geotechnics. CRC Press, pp 665–670

  67. 67.

    Chittoori B, Puppala AJ, Raavi A (2014) Strength and stiffness characterization of controlled low-strength material using native high-plasticity clay. J Mater Civil Eng 26(6):04014007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. 68.

    Han J (2015) Principles and practice of ground improvement. Wiley, New York

    Google Scholar 

  69. 69.

    Rong-rong Z, Dong-dong M (2020) Effects of curing time on the mechanical property and microstructure characteristics of Metakaolin-based geopolymer cement-stabilized silty clay. Advances in Materials Science and Engineering

  70. 70.

    Ayeldeen M, Hara Y, Kitazume M, Negm A (2016) Unconfined compressive strength of compacted disturbed cement-stabilized soft clay. Int J Geosynth Ground Eng 2(4):28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. 71.

    Ayininuola GM, Akinniyi BD (2016) Bone ash influence on soil consolidation. Malaysian J Civil Eng 28(3):407–422

    Google Scholar 

  72. 72.

    Nelson JD, Chao KC, Overton DD, Nelson EJ (2015) Chapter 6 Oedometer testing. In: Foundation engineering for expansive soils. Wiley, pp 127–151

  73. 73.

    Fattah MY, Al-Lami AH, Ahmed MD (2015) Effect of initial water content on the properties of compacted expansive unsaturated soil. J Eng 21(3):93–108

    Google Scholar 

  74. 74.

    Mawlood YI, Hummadi RA (2019) Large-scale model swelling potential of expansive soils in comparison with oedometer swelling methods. Iranian J Sci Technol Trans Civil Eng.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. 75.

    Mawlood YI, Hummadi RA (2019) Reversible and irreversible deformations of expansive clays. Proc Inst Civil Eng Geotech Eng 172(5):442–452.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. 76.

    Rao AS, Phanikumar BR, Sharma RS (2004) Prediction of swelling characteristics of remoulded and compacted expansive soils using free swell index. Q J Eng GeolHydrogeol 37(3):217–226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. 77.

    Elsharief AM, Zumrawi MM, Salam AM (2015) Experimental study of some factors affecting swelling pressure. Univ Khartoum Eng J 4(2):96

    Google Scholar 

  78. 78.

    Navarro V, De la Morena G, Yustres Á, González-Arteaga J, Asensio L (2017) Predicting the swelling pressure of MX-80 bentonite. Appl Clay Sci 149:51–58.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


The second and fourth authors thank the Soil Mechanics Laboratory at the Civil Engineering Department of College Engineering, Salahaddin University-Erbil, for their facilities.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Younis M. Alshkane.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ibrahim, H.H., Alshkane, Y.M., Mawlood, Y.I. et al. Improving the geotechnical properties of high expansive clay using limestone powder. Innov. Infrastruct. Solut. 5, 112 (2020).

Download citation


  • Limestone powder
  • Stabilization
  • High expansive clay
  • UCS