Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Vahedifard, Farshid

Committee Member

Peters, John F.

Committee Member

Howard, Isaac, L.

Committee Member

Taylor, Oliver, D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Civil Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Lateral swelling pressure induced in expansive soils upon wetting can adversely impact the performance and integrity of earthen structures and foundations. The yearly cost associated with damage to structures from expansive clays in the United States is estimated to exceed the loss associated with natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. The main objective of this dissertation is to provide new insight into the evolution of lateral swelling pressure in variably saturated expensive soils under infiltration via physical testing. In the first part of this study, a new laboratory-scale testing apparatus was built to measure lateral and vertical swelling pressures under anisotropic conditions. The testing apparatus was used to investigate the effect of compaction level on lateral swelling pressure in an expansive clay collected from central Arkansas. Results show that the higher the compaction, the higher the lateral swelling pressure. In contrast, compaction was found to have an insignificant effect on the vertical swelling pressure at a compaction level of less than 90%. In the second part, the laboratory-scale testing apparatus was employed to test the effects of four additives (lime, lime kiln dust, cement, and cement kiln dust). The results showed that the addition of a high calcium additive could significantly reduce the swelling pressures of expansive clay. The third part of the dissertation involved full-scale testing of lateral pressures in an expansive clay upon infiltration. A heavily instrumented 3-m high masonry wall backfilled with an expansive clay was built and subjected to infiltration. The degree of saturation, pore-water pressure, temperature, suction, and lateral and vertical pressures were monitored at different locations during the test. Results showed that the development of lateral pressure is rapid during initial saturation and levels out as the clay approaches saturation levels. This finding highlights the importance of monitoring lateral pressure over time to accurately predict its behavior. The study also found that lateral pressure develops prior to vertical pressure, depending on the area and restraint.