Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Howard, Isaac L.

Committee Member

Newman, John K.

Committee Member

Rushing, John F.

Committee Member

Vahedifard, Farshid

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


A large amount of research has been conducted to investigate the influence of incorporating geosynthetics in highway pavements in laboratory-scale and full-scale experiments, and performance improvement has been well documented. In most cases, geosynthetics have been found to improve rutting resistance or reduce vertical pressure on the subgrade. Airfield pavements are typically thicker than highway pavements and are subjected to higher wheel loads and tire pressures. Thus, the benefit of geosynthetics within airfield pavements may not be as pronounced as that observed in relatively thin highway pavements. Prior to the writing of this dissertation, few documented studies focused on the performance of geosynthetic inclusion in airfield pavements and existing Department of Defense (DOD) guidance for geosynthetic inclusion had not been updated for several decades. The primary objectives of this dissertation were to update the DOD geosynthetic design methodology, to interpret results of laboratory-scale and full-scale experiments conducted specifically to evaluate geosynthetic performance in airfield pavements, and to determine if a competitive market exists for geosynthetic inclusion in airfield pavements. The main body of this dissertation is a compilation of four complementary articles that build upon the primary components of the main objectives. Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 present an introduction and a literature review, respectively. Updates to the DOD design methodology are presented in Chapter 3, results of laboratory-scale and full-scale evaluations are presented in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5, respectively, and potential implications of geosynthetic inclusion in airfield pavements are presented in Chapter 6. Chapter 7 presents overall conclusions and recommendations. Overall, it was found that, while some geosynthetics can be beneficial in airfield pavements, more rutting than would typically be allowed on an operational airfield was required to realize a meaningful performance benefit. In cases where geosynthetics were included in an airfield pavement, it was found that an extension of service life rather than a reduction in aggregate thickness was more optimal in assigning a geosynthetic value. Finally, the results of this dissertation indicated that geosynthetic inclusion in airfield pavements did not yield the same benefit level as that documented in the literature for highway pavements.



Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Air Force, Tensar International