Strength and Cementation in a Termite Mound

  • Nikita ZachariahEmail author
  • Ramesh K. Kandasami
  • Aritra Das
  • Tejas G. Murthy
  • Renee M. Borges
Part of the Springer Transactions in Civil and Environmental Engineering book series (STICEE)


Biocemented earthen structures like termite mounds can be ten times stronger than the surrounding soil and can last for decades to centuries. Their architecture harvests wind energy for ventilation in order to achieve highly controlled internal environment and has inspired construction of energy-efficient buildings but little is known about the chemical identity of the biocement used in termite construction and the trade-offs between strength and ventilation in a termite mound. By conducting field studies and controlled experiments on Odontotermes obesus termites, we establish the chemical identity of the biocement used in termite mound construction. We also demonstrate how high strength and optimum ventilation is achieved in a termite mound. Our results taken together will provide new insights into cost-effective and eco-friendly building constructions.


Termite mound Biocementation Bioinspiration Biomimetic 


Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available in Scientific Reports | 7: 4692 |; Environmental Geotechnics | 3: EG2: 99–113| and also from the corresponding author upon request.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikita Zachariah
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ramesh K. Kandasami
    • 2
  • Aritra Das
    • 3
  • Tejas G. Murthy
    • 4
  • Renee M. Borges
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Schofield Centre, West Cambridge Site, University of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Centre for Neuroscience, Indian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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