Forensic Investigation of a Sulfate-Heaved Project in Texas

This paper focuses on the cause, possible solutions, and future prevention of pavement heave at a new construction project. We speculated that heaving on the east side of the project was caused by a reaction between the lime stabilizer and minerals in the soil. Because of a difference in soil chemistry, the west side of the project (which was still under construction) did not show evidence of heaving. A forensic investigation was initiated to test our hypothesis. The findings of the investigation concluded that the cause of the heaving on the east side of the road was related to the formation of the expansive mineral, ettringite. Ettringite formed due to the reaction of the lime stabilizer with seams of high sulfate soil on the east side. Laboratory testing did not find any effective stabilizer for the high-sulfate soils on the east side. Therefore, reconstruction would involve removing and replacing the treated layer with a select material that has less than 2,000 ppm sulfates. Test results indicate that there was no threat of sulfate heave on the west side. District personnel had performed the field conductivity tests to evaluate and monitor the concentration of the sulfate content on the remaining project. The treatment of 3%/72-h mellowing period/3% lime treatment was employed on the west side. The whole project has been completed for 1 year and no heave has been observed.

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  • Authors:
    • Chen, Dar-Hao
    • Harris, J Patrick
    • Scullion, Tom
    • Bilyeu, John
  • Publication Date: 2005-11


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01011055
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 21 2005 4:24PM