An improved framework for volume change of shrink/swell soils subjected to time-varying climatic effects

Austin H. Olaiz, Mohammad Mosawi, Claudia E. Zapata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to estimate soil volume change as a function of time is a valuable tool in the design or forensic analysis of shallow foundations and pavement structures. This paper presents an improved framework for estimating the volume change of shrink/swell soils due to time-varying climatic effects using the Lytton et al. (2005) approach with the suction envelope models created by Vann & Houston (2021) and updated considerations of short-term varying climate. The procedure can be easily implemented in any country due to its mechanistic-empirical nature. The authors present an example calculation of the proposed framework using the data from an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) Seasonal Monitoring Program (SMP) section, located approximately 80 miles northeast of Dallas, Texas. The volume change estimated from the proposed framework was compared to 70 measured data points from sections from the SMP study and the results look promising. The models are universal and can be used in any part of the world provided measured data is available to calibrate for local conditions. Ongoing calibration effort with the remaining LTPP SMP sections will allow obtaining calibration factors for the proposed framework that will improve the estimation of the volume change predictions under pavements and facilitate the implementation into current design procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021065621
JournalSoils and Rocks
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • Mitchell’s closed-form solution
  • Shrink/swell volume change
  • Soil suction envelopes
  • Soil-climate interaction
  • Time-varying climatic effects
  • Unsaturated soil moisture flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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