The Swell and Shrinkage Percentages for Various Soil Types and their Prediction from Intrinsic Soil Properties

  • haval haji yousif Department of Soil and Water, College of Agricultural Engineering Sciences, Salahaddin University-Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
  • Tariq H. Karim Department of Soil and Water, College of Agricultural Engineering Sciences, Salahaddin University-Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq.
  • Ismail B. Mohammad Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering, Salahaddin University-Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq
Keywords: Earthworks; Soil volume change; Swelling/shrinkage percentages; Bank site; Soil geotechnical properties.


Earthwork construction involves excavation, hauling, placing and compaction of soil, gravel, and other materials that exist on the soil surface. The soil volume varies depending whether the soil is bank, loose or compacted material. Therefore, the final generated volume of earthwork should be adjusted for volume changes during the above states by applying shrinkage and swell-correction percentages. Estimating these correction factors by engineering expertise or selecting predetermined tables without extensive knowledge of the local soils has proven to be costly and may be misleading. Accordingly, the current study was initiated to develop the database of swell/ shrinkage percentages for various soil materials and link them to other soil properties. Standard procedures were applied for determining soil density at different states along with the physical, chemical and geotechnical properties for soils obtained from 39 surveyed projects within and on the outskirts of Erbil city. The obtained data were subjected to different statistical analysis and the results indicated that the swell percentage ranged from 36.10 -55.7% for clays, 18.40 – 69.20% for silts and 11.90 – 54.5% for gravels. Shrinkage percentage ranged from 9.20 – 16.5% for clays, 4.40 – 20.20% for silts and 0.80 - 23.5% for gravel. Overall, within each group, the swell percent was superior to the shrinkage percent. Additionally, the swell percent was characterized by having a higher coefficient of variation compared to that of shrinkage percent. The in situ soil density and clay content have emerged to be the most effective soil properties for predicting swell percent. On the other hand, the influential variables for predicting shrinkage percent were in situ soil density and the maximum dry density. The mean absolute error of prediction of swell and shrinkage percentages were 6.79 and 1.17 respectively, indicating that shrinkage percent  can be predicted more accurately compared with swell percent.



AKIIJE, I. 2013. An innovative mass haul diagram development for highway earthwork. Journal of Emerging Trends in Engineering and Applied Sciences, 4(1), pp.38-45.
ALZOUBI, I., ALALI, F.A. AND MIRZAEI, F. 2017. Earthwork Volume Optimization Using Imperialistic Competitive Algorithm to Minimize Energy Consumption of Agricultural Land Leveling. Journal of Tethys: Vol, 5(1), pp.070-086.
AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR TESTING AND MATERIALS (ASTM), D854-14. 2014. Standard test methods for specific gravity of soil solids by water pycnometer. ASTM International.
A.S.T.M., D., 2016. Standard test method for California bearing ratio (CBR) of laboratory-compacted soils. West Conshohocken, PA, United States.
Standard, A.S.T.M., 2012. C128-12, Standard Test Method for Density, Relative Density (Specific Gravity), and Absorption of Fine Aggregate. ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA.
ASTM, A., 2015. Standard test method for relative density (specific gravity) and absorption of coarse aggregate. West Conshohocken, PA: ASTM.A.S.T.M., C. 2006. Standard test method for sieve analysis of fine and coarse aggregates. ASTM C136-06.
Standard, A.S.T.M., 2007. D422–63 (2007) Standard test method for particle-size analysis of soils. ASTM International, West Conshohocken. doi, 10, p.1520.
A.S.T.M. 2007. Standard test method for density and unit weight of soil in place by the sand-cone method. D1556-07.
BANNISTER, A., RAYMOND, S. AND BAKER, R. 1998. Surveying (7th ed). Harlow: Essex, England : Addison Wesley Longman Ltd. pp.502
BLAKE, G.R. AND HARTGE. K.H. 1986. Methods of soil analysis. Bulk density, Part 1. 2nd Ed. Agronomy 9. ASA and SSSA, 363-375, Madison.
BURCH, D. 1997. Estimating excavation.4th printing, (2007). Carlsbad, CA: Craftsman Book Company. ISBN 0-934041-96-2
CHAMAT . L.R., ANUPRIYA. 2018. Calculation of Cut and Fill of Earthworks with Quantum-GIS. IJSRD, Vol. 6, Issue 03, 2018 | ISSN (online):2321-0613.
CHOPRA, M. B., NEGRON, C. A. AND MORGAN, P. E. 1999. Improved Shrinkage and Bulkage Factors for Cohesionless Soils. Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, 1999 Washington, D.C.
COLE GEORGE M. AND HARBIN, ANDREW L. 2006. Surveyor reference manual. Professional publications, Inc., Belmont, CA.
CROOKS, A. R. 2013. Application of Shrinkage and Swelling Factors on State Highway Construction. M.S. Thesis, University of Auburn, Alabama.
ASTM, D., 2010. Standard test methods for liquid limit, plastic limit, and plasticity index of soils. D4318-10.
FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION. 2007. FHWA Geotechnical Technical Guidance Manual. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 6th July 2020].
GARBER, N. J. 2010. ‘Traffic and Highway Engineering’, 4th ed. Cengage learning Stamford, USA
GÖKTEPE, A.B., LAV, A.H., ALTUN, S. AND ALTINTAŞ, G. 2008. Fuzzy decision support system to determine swell/shrink factor affecting earthwork optimization of highways. Mathematical and Computational Applications, 13(1), pp.61-70.
HELTON, J. E. 1992. Simplified Estimating for Builder and Engineers, Prentice Hall, Inc., New Jersey.
HESSE, P.R. 1971. A textbook of soil chemical analysis (No. 631.41 H4).
JACKSON, M. L. 1958. Soil Chemical Analysis. Prentice. Hall. INC. Publ., USA: 521pp.
KIM, S. AND KIM, H. 2016. A new metric of absolute percentage error for intermittent demand forecasts. International Journal of Forecasting, 32(3), pp.669-679.
LEWIS, C.D. 1997. Demand forecasting and inventory control: A computer aided learning approach. Routledge.
LI, D. AND LU, M. 2019. Classical Planning Model-Based Approach to Automating Construction Planning on Earthwork Projects. Computer-Aided Civil and Infrastructure Engineering, 34(4), pp.299-315.
MARTÍNEZ, G.M.A., ARRÚA, P.A. AND EBERHARDT, M.G. 2014. A Topographic Method for Determining the Swelling Factor of Soils by Excavation. EJGE, Vol. 19, pp.6627-6634.
NAJAFI, M. AND GOKHALE, S. 2005. "Trenchless Technology, Pipeline and Utility Design, Construction, and Renewal," McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.
NUNNALLY, S. W. 2011. Construction Methods and Management (Eighth Edition). Prentice-Hall,Inc. New Jersey.
ROWELL, D. L. 1996. Soil Science: methods and application. Harl. Longm. Publ., UK: 86pp.
SAĞLAM, B. AND BETTEMIR, Ö.H. 2018. Estimation of duration of earthwork with backhoe excavator by Monte Carlo Simulation. Journal of Construction Engineering, 1(2), pp.85-94.
SHAMO, B. 2013. Spatial Statistical and Multivariate Regression Approach to Earthwork Shrinkage-Factor Calculation (Doctoral dissertation, North Dakota State University).
A.S.T.M., D1557. 2012. Standard test methods for laboratory compaction characteristics of soil using modified effort. ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA.
Standard, A.S.T.M., 2005. D2216 (2005). Test methods for laboratory determination of water (moisture) content of soil and rock by mass.
A.S.T.M., A., 2009. D6913− 04 Standard test methods for particle-size distribution (gradation) of soils using sieve analaysis, ASTM Stand. Int.
UHLIK III, F.T. 1984. Optimizing Earthwork Estimating for Highway Construction (No. AFIT/CI/NR-84-58T). AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH.
WHITE, D., VENNAPUSA, P. AND ZHANG, J. 2010. Earthwork Volumetric Calculations and Characterization of Additional CFED Soils. CFED Phase IV, pp.44-49.
WILDING, L.P. 1985. Spatial variability: its documentation, accomodation and implication to soil surveys. In Soil spatial variability, Las Vegas NV, 30 November-1 December 1984 (pp. 166-194).
How to Cite
yousif, haval, H. Karim, T. and B. Mohammad, I. (2020) “The Swell and Shrinkage Percentages for Various Soil Types and their Prediction from Intrinsic Soil Properties”, Zanco Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences, 32(6), pp. 123-137. doi: 10.21271/ZJPAS.32.6.14.
Agricultural and Environmental Researches