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Behavior of compressed earth block assemblies under compression load

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Title:
Behavior of compressed earth block assemblies under compression load
Creator:
Hanlon, Brenton Joseph ( author )
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 electronic file (99 pages). : ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Earth construction ( lcsh )
Earthquake resistant design ( lcsh )
Earth construction ( fast )
Earthquake resistant design ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Review:
There are several common practices that are applied to earth construction that have been extrapolated from concrete block and cement mortar assemblies to the earth block and mortar assemblies. Three distinct small scale tests were developed to determine if the practices are acceptable. The findings of these experiments are that compressed earth block and mortar assemblies can adequately resist light static compression loading, earth mortar mixes have a low compression strength, and a compressed block assemblage loses structural integrity and fails in a brittle manner when exposed to a cyclic loading. Given the results of the cyclic testing, compressed earth blocks without reinforcing are not recommended for use in a seismic resisting system.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.S.)--University of Colorado Denver.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographic references.
General Note:
Department of Civil Engineering
Statement of Responsibility:
by Brenton Joseph Hanlon.

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Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
921476356 ( OCLC )
ocn921476356

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Full Text
BEHAVIOR OF COMPRESSED EARTH BLOCKASSEMBLIES UNDER
COMPRESSION LOAD
by
BRENTON JOSEPH HANLON
B.S., University of Colorado Boulder, 2007
A thesis submitted to the
faculty of the Graduate School of
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science
Civil Engineering
2015


This thesis for the Master of Science
degree by
Brenton Joseph Hanlon
has been approved for the
Civil Engineering Program
by
Frederick Rutz, Chair
Nien-Yin Chang
Kevin Rens


Hanlon, Brenton Joseph (M.S., Civil Engineering)
Behavior of Compressed Earth Block Assemblies Under Compression Load
Thesis directed by Professor Fredrick Rutz
ABSTRACT
There are several common practices that are applied to earth construction that
have been extrapolated from concrete block and cement mortar assemblies to
the earth block and mortar assemblies. Three distinct small scale tests were
developed to determine if the practices are acceptable. The findings of these
experiments are that compressed earth block and mortar assemblies can
adequately resist light static compression loading, earth mortar mixes have a low
compression strength, and a compressed block assemblage loses structural
integrity and fails in a brittle manner when exposed to a cyclic loading. Given the
results of the cyclic testing, compressed earth blocks without reinforcing are not
recommended for use in a seismic resisting system.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Frederick Rutz


DEDICATION
This work is dedicated to my wife, Jenny, and son, Eli. They are the
motivation that keeps me driving ahead. None of this would have been possible
without their never ending support and understanding.
IV


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thanks to my advisor Dr. Frederick Rutz. His guidance was invaluable
throughout the process. Also thanks to Dr. Bernard Amadei and Tom Bowen of
the University of Colorado Boulder, whose desire and passion to aid developing
communities is inspirational. Lastly, thanks to Greg Madeen and Dave Ellinwood
who assisted in the procurement of compressed earth blocks used for testing.
v


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I - INTRODUCTION...................................................1
Objective of the Testing......................................1
Overview................................................1
Study Behavior of CEB Assembly under Gravity Loading....2
Study Behavior of Grouted CEB under Gravity Loading.....4
Study Behavior of CEB under Seismic/Cyclic Loading......6
Contents of Report............................................8
II - LITERATURE REVIEW..............................................9
History of Earth Block Construction...........................9
Ancient History.........................................9
Modern Construction....................................10
Compressed Earth Block.......................................11
Overview of Similar Materials to Compressed Earth Block......11
Clay Masonry...........................................12
Poured Earth...........................................12
Rammed Earth...........................................12
Advantages of Compressed Earth Block...................13
Disadvantages of Compressed Earth Block................14
VI


Mortars
14
Manufacturing Methods......................................14
Binders....................................................15
Soil Properties and Analysis...............................15
Standard Wall Assemblies...................................16
Durability Characteristics.................................17
Mechanical Properties......................................17
New Mexico Building Code...................................18
III - INTRODUCTION TO SEISMIC RESISTING WALL SYSTEMS....................20
A Brief Summary of Earthquake Causes and Mechanics................20
Structural Response to Ground Motion..............................22
Design of Masonry Earthquake Resisting Systems....................23
Seismic Resisting Wall Configurations.............................24
Unreinforced Masonry Walls.................................24
Reinforced Masonry Walls...................................25
Confined Masonry Walls.....................................26
IV - OVERVIEW OF TESTING................................................27
Objective of Testing..............................................27
Materials.........................................................27
Compressed Earth Block Components..........................27
vii


Earth Mortar
29
Control CMU...............................................31
Cement Mortar.............................................31
Preparation of Samples..........................................32
Preparation of Compressed Earth Block.....................32
Mixing of Mortar..........................................34
CEB Prism Assemblies......................................37
Mortar Cubes..............................................38
Observations of Specimens.................................39
Capping...................................................43
Testing Apparatus...............................................44
Testing Procedures..............................................45
Static Compression Strength Testing of Compressed Earth
Assembly..................................................45
Static Compression Strength Testing of Earth Mortar.......45
Dynamic Testing...........................................45
Testing Observations and Photos.................................47
V - SUMMARY OF RESULTS...............................................51
Data Collected..................................................51
viii
Calculations
52


Maximum Stress............................................52
Strain....................................................52
Modulus of Elasticity.....................................52
Work Energy...............................................53
CEB Static Testing Results......................................53
Compressed Earth Block with 1:4 Mortar Mix................54
Compressed Earth Block with 1:1 Mortar Mix................55
Compressed Earth Block with 4:1 Mortar Mix................56
Compressed Earth Block with Cement Mortar Mix.............57
Concrete Masonry Unit with Cement Mortar..................58
Mortar Cubes Testing............................................59
Poured Earth Grout 1:4 Mix................................60
Poured Earth Grout 1:1 Mix................................61
Poured Earth Mortar 4:1 Mix...............................62
Cement Mortar Mix.........................................63
Cyclic Test Results.............................................64
Compressed Earth Block with 1:4 Mortar Mix 50% Hysterisis.65
Compressed Earth Block with 1:4 Mortar Mix 90% Hysterisis.65
Compressed Earth Block with 1:1 Mortar Mix 50% Hysterisis.66
Compressed Earth Block with 1:1 Mortar Mix 90% Hysterisis.66
IX


Compressed Earth Block with 4:1 Mortar Mix 50% Hysterisis.67
Compressed Earth Block with 4:1 Mortar Mix 90% Hysterisis.67
Compressed Earth Block with Cement Mortar 50% Hysterisis 68
Compressed Earth Block with Cement Mortar 90% Hysterisis 68
Concrete Block Assembly 90% Hysterisis...................69
VI - CONCLUSIONS AND INTERPRETATIONS OF RESULTS.......................70
Analysis of Data and Observations..............................70
Compressed Earth Block and Mortar Assembly: Static Testing.... 70
Earth Mortar Mix.........................................70
Compressed Earth Block and Mortar Assembly: Cyclic Testing ... 70
Conclusions....................................................71
Static Compression Strength of Compressed Earth Assembly..71
Static Compression Strength of Mortar....................72
Cyclic Compression Strength of Compressed Earth Assembly..73
Energy Dissipation.......................................74
Limitations of the Material....................................75
VII - FUTURE TESTING RECOMMENDATIONS.................................76
Ideal Configurations and Applications of Compressed Earth Block.76
Confined Masonry Configuration Proposed Testing Procedure......76
Proposed Configuration of Wall...........................76
x


Proposed Testing Procedure...............................77
Unreinforced Masonry Configuration Proposed Testing Procedure.80
Proposed Configuration of Wall...........................80
Proposed Testing Procedure...............................81
REFERENCES...........................................................82
XI


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
1 - Compressed Earth Block Assembly (Earthen Walls Risen in August, 2010)... 2
2 - Limit State of Experiment 1......................................3
3 - Double Wythe Wall Assembly (Reinforced Brick Walls, 2005)........4
4 - Limit States of Experiment 2......................................5
5 - Limit States of Experiment 2......................................5
6 - Limit State Experiment 3..........................................6
7 - Limit State Experiment 3..........................................7
8 - Reinforced Masonry Construction (Reinforced Brick Walls, 2005)...25
9 - Confined masonry layout (Confined Masonry Build-Up, 2011)........26
10 - Natural Clay Soil Gradation.....................................28
11 - Soil Gradation Sand Mix.........................................29
12 - Masonry Sand Soil Gradation.....................................30
13-Full Sized Units...................................................32
14 - Block Saw.......................................................33
15 - Compressed Earth Blocks Cut.....................................33
16 - Dry Mix.........................................................34
17 - Mortar Mix......................................................35
18 - Slump Test......................................................36
19 - Compressed Earth Prisms.........................................37
20 - Mortar Cube Forms...............................................38
21 - Damaged Blocks..................................................39
xii


22 Cracked Earth Mortar
40
23 - Mortar cube consolidation...............................................41
24 - Concrete Block Prisms...................................................42
25 - Prism Loaded in Testing Apparatus.......................................44
26 - Cyclic Force Function...................................................46
27 - Typical Prism Fracture Pattern..........................................47
28 - Typical Mortar Failure..................................................48
29 - Prism Prior To Failure..................................................49
30 - Prism Just After Failure................................................50
31 - Stress/Strain Results CEB w/1:4 Mortar..................................54
32 - Stress Strain Curve 1:4 Mortar..........................................55
33 - Stress/Strain Results CEB w/ 4:1 Mortar.................................56
34- Stress/Strain Results CEB w/ Cement Mortar..............................57
35 - Stress/Strain Results Concrete Block w/ Cement Mortar....................58
36 - Stress/Strain Results for Earth Mortar 1:4 Mix...........................60
37 - Stress/Strain Results for Earth Mortar 1:1 Mix...........................61
38 - Stress/Strain Results for Earth Mortar 4:1 Mix...........................62
39 - Compressive Test Results for Cement Mortar Mix...........................63
40 - Combined Hysteresis......................................................74
41 - Confined Masonry Test....................................................77
42 - Initial Load Cycle.......................................................78
43 - Test Load Cycle..........................................................79
44 - Unreinforced Masonry Test................................................80
xiii


45 - Test Ramp Function
81
XIV


LIST OF TABLES
Table
1 - Average Earthquake Magnitude Global Recurrence...................22
2 - Compressed Earth Block Mix......................................28
3 - Earth Mortar Mixes..............................................31
4 Block Strength w/ Different Caps.................................43
5 - Static Test Results CEB w/1:4 Mortar.............................54
6 - Static Test Results CEB w/1:1 Mortar.............................55
7 - Static Test Results CEB w/ 4:1 Mortar............................56
8 - Static Test Results CEB w/ Cement Mortar.........................57
9 - Static Test Results Concrete Block w/ Cement Mortar.............58
10 - Compressive Test Results for Earth Mortar 1:4 Mix...............60
11 - Compressive Test Results for Earth Mortar 1:1 Mix...............61
12 - Compressive Test Results for Earth Mortar 4:1 Mix...............62
13 - Compressive Test Results for Earth Cement Mortar Mix............63
14 - Energy Absorbed in First 5 Cycles..............................64
xv


LIST OF EQUATIONS
Equation
1 - Axial Stress..........................................................52
2 - Strain...............................................................52
3 - Modulus of Elasticity................................................52
4 - Work Energy..........................................................53
XVI


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
Objective of the Testing
Overview
There are several common practices that are applied to earth construction
that have been extrapolated from concrete block and cement mortar assemblies
to the earth block and mortar assemblies. On projects constructed prior to this
report, a similar behavior of concrete block assembly and compressed earth
block assemblies have been assumed. The experiments performed in this report
were intended to observe the behavior of common compressed earth unit/mortar
assemblies and compare them to known concrete block behavior. Three distinct
small scale tests were developed as the focus of this research. They are as
follows: compressed earth block/mortar assemblages under static compression
loading, earth mortar cubes under static compression loading, and compressed
earth block/mortar assemblages under cyclic compression loading.
Recommendations regarding the viability of common earth block practices are
given as conclusion to the observations noted in the small scale testing.
Additional recommendations regarding large scale testing are given as a result of
observations in the small scale testing.
1


Study Behavior of CEB Assembly under Gravity Loading
A common assemblage of compressed earth block construction is shown
below in Figure 1. One inch thick earth mortar is placed between compressed
earth block units and are used to form structural walls in buildings.
Figure 1 Compressed Earth Block Assembly (Earthen Walls Risen in August,
2010)
Small scale testing was performed by measuring the maximum vertical
compression force and displacement on prisms containing three blocks
comprised of the compressed earth block and earth mortar. Figure 2 shows the
intended limit state the small scale testing is evaluating.
2


VERTICAL AXIAL
LOAD DUE TO
GRAVITY
Figure 2-Limit State of Experiment 1
Three separate earth mortars mixes were tested. Tests were also run with
traditional cement lime mortar in order to have a baseline for behavioral
comparison. These four separate assemblies were tested to measure the
compressive strength of material and observe the response of material to vertical
static loading. Recommendations regarding the viability of the earth block and
mortar assembly to resist gravity loads are given based on observations of this
experiment.
3


Study Behavior of Grouted CEB under Gravity Loading
Common assembly of grouted earth block construction consist of poured
earth bond beams placed at the top of masonry walls. Reinforcing steel is placed
at the top of the wall and encompassed by the poured earth material. This is a
common practice in concrete masonry and been put into practice in earth
construction, however there is no available data or testing to suggest that the
behavior of compressed earth block is similar to that of concrete masonry.
Another common masonry wall assembly is a double wythe assembly with
a grouted annular space between the block wythes as shown in Figure 3. Often
times the annular space is filled with grout and tension or flexural reinforcing
steel.
Figure 3-Double Wythe Wall Assembly (Reinforced Brick Walls, 2005).
4


Mortar cubes were tested and the maximum static vertical compression
force measured from samples consisting of three separate earth mortar mixes.
Figure 4 and Figure 5 below notes the limit states in which we will be observing.
Figure 4-Limit States of Experiment 2
Figure 5-Limit States of Experiment 2
5


Tests were also run with traditional cement lime mortar in order to have a
behavioral baseline comparison. The four materials were tested to measure the
effectiveness to resist the vertical static compression force noted in Figure 4 and
the compression loads due to flexural force noted in Figure 5. Recommendations
regarding the viability of earth mortar applied as both a mortar and as a poured
earth grout are given based on observations of this test.
Study Behavior of CEB under Seismic/Cyclic Loading
In order to resist seismic loading, reinforcing steel is required to aid in
energy dissipation. Two separate configurations are being considered. Below in
Figure 6 is outlined the limit state this experiment will be testing where steel
reinforcing is placed within a grouted cell of the masonry. Figure 7 shows a
confined masonry configuration, common to third world construction.
HORIZONTAL AXIAL
LOAD DUE TO
WIND OR SEISMIC
TENSION STEEL
REINFORCING
Figure 6 -Limit State Experiment 3
6


HORIZONTAL AXIAL-------,
LOAD DUE TO
WIND OR SEISMIC
COMPRESSION
STRUT FORMS
CONFINING STEEL -
RESISTS TENSION

COMPRESSION STRUT
FORMS CAUSING
SHEAR AND AXIAL
Figure 7 Limit State Experiment 3
In the contents of this report, small scale testing was observed by applying
a cyclic compression load equal to 50% of the ultimate compressive strength of
material. The test was repeated using a cyclic force equal to 90% of the ultimate
compressive strength of materials. Three separate earth mortars mixes were
tested. Tests were also run with traditional concrete mortar in order to have a
baseline for behavioral comparison. Because the mortar is less stiff than
traditional concrete, it can be hypothesized that that earth construction may be
better at dissipating energy than traditional concrete block. The four separate
assemblies were tested to measure behavior of material as cyclic loading was
applied. Recommendations regarding the viability of the earth block and mortar
as a seismic resisting are given based on observations of this experiment.
7


Contents of Report
The following report provides a brief overview of history of earth
construction, common design principals used in earth construction and layout
existing research on compressed earth block and compressed earth block
assemblies. As background, information on how modern wall systems resist
seismic load is included. An in-depth summary of testing methods is provided for
the three small scale tests. Finally, results are reported and interpreted to assess
the viability of several earth construction practices. Recommendations are
provided for acceptable structural configuration of compressed earth assemblies
and recommendations for future research are made.
8


CHAPTER II
LITERATURE REVIEW
History of Earth Block Construction
Ancient History
Throughout history humans have always found ways to shelter
themselves from the elements. Our modern building methods, albeit more
complicated than the ancient methods of construction, are not always as durable.
Earthen construction has been around for thousands of years with evidence that
our earliest ancestors lived in earthen dwellings over 9,000 years ago (Menke,
2006). Native Americans built homes out of adobe hundreds of years ago that
are still standing today. Houses made of mixtures of soil, sand, straw and water
have out survived their creators to be one of the most proven and long lasting
building materials. By some estimates, there are twenty different known methods
of earth construction (Rael, 2009). The following are three ancient examples of
durable earth block construction.
Many of pre-modern buildings still standing today were made with earth.
One of the most famous ancient building sites standing is the Taos Pueblo.
Located in Taos, New Mexico and made out of adobe bricks and mortar, the
pueblo remains continuously inhabited as it has been for the last 1,000 years
(Easton, 2007).
Many of the most sensational earth buildings were constructed in the
Middle East. The high thermal mass of earth of construction allows the interior of
9


the buildings to remain cool even when the hot desert sun pushes temperature
higher. Located in southeastern Iran, Arg-e Bam was a city constructed entirely
of mud bricks. Located on the Silk Road, it became a major trade hub from
around 330 AD and supported over 12,000 people. The structures still reside
there today, however most of the residences were severely damaged by and
earthquake in 2003.
Then city of Chan located in the Moche Valley in Peru is an example of
ancient earth block construction. Constructed in 850 AD, 26 foot tall walls
constructed of adobe/mud blocks surround the city helped to protect the
residences inside (Mosely, 1982). Ornate carvings of soldiers have recently been
discovered marking the importance of the building in the region.
All of the buildings discussed above were made from earth block and
earth mortar. Many of these structures are still standing today and have been
able to withstand the test of time.
Modern Construction
In the modern era, earth block construction has been investigated as a
building material, however it has largely remained available as an alternative
material. Common practices such as rammed earth, adobe housing, and
compressed earth block have been used in areas, such as New Mexico, where
earth building tradition is engrained in the culture. While iconic buildings on a
grand scale are not being constructed using earth construction methods, people
have integrated the practice into construction of their own residences (Minke,
10


2006). People with concerns about the environmental impact of their use have
started to use alternative means of construction that uses locally sourced
material. Earth construction caters to this need as earth can be found on every
building site. A separate group of people have begun to look into earth blocks as
a means to economically build their residences. While not always economical to
use earth construction, the right socio-economic environment could be found in
developing communities (Allen, 2012).
Compressed Earth Block
Compressed earth block is not commonly used, however it is quickly
growing as an alternative building material. While the infrastructure in the United
States keeps this a secondary option as a building material, non-profit companies
and non-governmental organizations are growing the use in developing regions.
The general premise of compressed earth block is to take a clay, water
and sand mixture and apply a compression stress to the material. As the
material is compressed, bond of earth particles is strengthened. As the water in
the block dries, bonds are enhanced. The final product is a block that can nearly
equal the compressive strength of concrete block.
Overview of Similar Materials to Compressed Earth Block
Compressed earth block is not a far turn from other building materials,
both alternative and traditional, that are better known. In this sections a brief
overview will be given of several similar materials to compressed earth block.
11


Clay Masonry
Clay masonry is a common building material in modern applications. Clay
bricks consist of clay that is mixed with water and formed and then heated to
create a hard dense material. The manufacturing process requires great amounts
of energy to heat the blocks (Key, 2010). The entire process is not energy
efficient and was largely replaced by structural concrete masonry units except in
areas where high strength is required. Clay brick remains relevant and in the
United States and is other expressed in architecture of exterior facades. If the
application is structural, clay brick is used in conjunction with cement lime mortar
and can be reinforced with steel reinforcing bars. It has been reported that well
ired clay brick can achieve a compressive strength excess of 14,000 pounds per
square inch (Hochwalt, 2012).
Poured Earth
Poured earth material is a clay, sand and water mixture that is formed into
walls, similar to how cast in place concrete is formed. The mixture is left to dry.
Drying times could take upwards of 28 days (Williamson, 2012). After material
has dried poured earth can display compressive strengths in the range of 300-
600 pounds per square inch, depending on the mix type (Williamson, 2012).
Rammed Earth
Rammed earth is a mixture of clay, sand and water that is formed similarly
to poured earth construction. After the mixture is placed, it is compacted to
enhance the bond between the materials. The process is repeated until the
desired height of the formed structure is achieved. It has been reported that
12


stabilized rammed earth can have a compressive strength of 500-1000 pounds
per square inch and a modulus of elasticity of roughly 750 kips per square inch
(King, 1996).
Advantages of Compressed Earth Block
Earth block material is easily sourced in an environmentally sustainable
way because the raw materials are found right on the building site. If the local soil
characteristics are right, there is no need to transport in any raw materials.
Portable presses can be brought to the build site, so transportation energy is
minimized. Contributing to the environmentally friendliness of the system, raw
material does not need to be processed, unlike concrete masonry.
Compressed earth blocks have a labor intensive manufacturing process
that can be an entrepreneurial opportunity in a developing community (Allen,
2012). Blocks can be made with a hand press yielding a low equipment cost.
This makes the barrier to starting a small business in a developing community
low.
Like most masonry materials, compressed earth block have desirable
thermal properties, enhancing the environmental comfort of the ambient air
temperature. The high thermal mass of thick walls keep ambient air temperature
cool in the summer and warm in the winter by storing and releasing thermal
energy over the course of the day.
13


Disadvantages of Compressed Earth Block
Structural properties of compressed earth blocks can be adequate,
however the material will never exceed concrete masonry in strength. As noted
above, the manufacturing process is quite labor intensive. Both of these facts
coupled with one another means that compressed earth block cost more to
produce in the developed community and will not perform as well as concrete
masonry.
Mortars
Any standard low strength mortar may be applied to a compressed earth
block system. If a cement mortar is being used, type 0 or lower strength is
recommended in order to be compatible with the blocks. Often, because most
people specifying compressed earth blocks are interested in environmental
advantages of compressed earth block, an earth mortar is used. By using a lower
strength earth mortar, structural compatibility of material is assured.
Manufacturing Methods
The Cinva Ram is the most common manufacturing method for
compressed earth block. Invented in Columbia, the Cinva Ram provides a cheap
way to manufacture blocks. Easily fabricated from 3/8 thick steel plate, the Cinva
Ram consists of piston drive by a hand lever that pushes up to compact the earth
material into a structural block.
Hydraulic Rams are the most common way to produce compressed earth
blocks because it uses a hydraulic pump to create the pressure, in lieu of a
14


human powered lever. Hydraulic rams can produce blocks at ten times the rate
as the Cinva Ram, however the upfront cost and maintenance are much higher.
Binders
Binders, such as Portland cement, are not required to be used with
compressed earth block or earth mortar. The strength of the system does not
typically rely on the binders, however cement is often used to enhance the
durability of the system. A small percentage of cement will often be used to help
keep moisture from degrading the blocks.
Soil Properties and Analysis
The soil composition is the most important property that contributes to the
compressed block strength. Ideally the native soil would be made up of 15%-40%
silt or clay and 40%-80% sand (Adam, 2001). If the native soil does not have a
relative composition close to what is suggested, the decision to use of
compressed earth block should be scrutinized heavily. If the soil properties are
not ideal, non-native material will need to be imported thus reducing the
environmental and sustainable impacts of using compressed earth block.
In order to determine factors in the field, a standard sieve analysis could
be performed on the native soil and a gradation analysis could be created. In
most cases a sieve analysis is not required, but a simple field test could be
performed. The simple field test involves filling a glass jar half full with soil being
analyzed and half full with water. Shake the jar until the soil contents have mixed
thoroughly with the soil. After letting the soil settle overnight, the soil layers will
15


separate revealing sand, silt and clay layers. This generally displays enough
information on the relative makeup of the soil to determine if compressed earth
block is a feasible option.
Standard Wall Assemblies
Typically compressed earth block is assembled in several different
configurations that are standard practice in masonry construction (Adam, 2001).
Three assemblies will be discussed: unreinforced running bond masonry, poured
earth bond beam, and double wythe assembly with steel reinforcing in the center.
By far the most common assembly for compressed earth masonry is a
typical unreinforced running bond assembly. One inch thick earth mortar is
placed between compressed earth block units and are used to form structural
walls. Walls are typically greater than 12 thick. Mortar is often an earth mortar
made up of similar mixes as the compressed earth unit (Allen, 2012).
Bond beams are required to be placed above openings and
continuous around the top of walls. New Mexico building codes required these
bond beam to be made out of wood or concrete, however common construction
practice has been to pour a bond beam out of earth mortar in areas where
jurisdictional oversight is minimal (Allen, 2012). While this has been construction
practice, no data or laboratory testing could be found during the course of this
study to verify the adequacy of this configuration.
If reinforcing is used, a double wythe wall is built with a cavity in between
it. Steel reinforcing is set in the cavity and then filled with grout. General practice
16


has been to use pour earth mortar material as grout for all bond beams and in
annular spaces around reinforcing. The result is a poured earth and compressed
earth block composite system. While this has been construction practice (Allen,
2012) and is a good idea in theory, no data or laboratory testing could be found
during the course of this study to verify the adequacy of this configuration.
Durability Characteristics
Unstabilized compressed earth blocks are susceptible to water damage.
When water gets into the block material it causes the block to degrade and pit
(Walker, 2004). Stabilized compressed blocks are much less susceptible to
degradation when exposed to moisture than unstabilized earth blocks. Stabilized
earth blocks maintain their structural integrity even after being exposed to wetting
and drying cycles (Walker, 2004).
Mechanical Properties
Compressed earth block units are fairly well known, however most of the
information on possible strengths pertains only to the unit itself and not the
assembly. Below are recorded some typical mechanical properties of
compressed earth block components.
Compressive Strength of units = 800 1200 pounds per square inch
(Krosnowski, 2011)
Modulus of Elasticity of unit = 200-400 kips per square inch (Allen, 2012)
Modulus of rupture of units = 30- 70 pounds per square inch (Allen, 2012)
17


Shear Strength = 50-80 pounds per square inch (Allen, 2012)
New Mexico Building Code
New Mexico is currently the most progressive jurisdiction allowing the use
of earth construction. Outlined in the code it has a section stating the
requirements compressed earth blocks material must follow in order for the
material to be approved by the governing jurisdiction. The following outlines a
few of the more important requirements.
Because earth construction is so variable, the New Mexico building code
is heavily based around testing of units. The New Mexico building code requires
a minimum compressive strength of 300 pounds per square inch and a minimum
modulus of rupture of 50 pounds per square inch. Five units must be selected at
random and demonstrated to meet the minimums set forth by the building code.
Only the unit must satisfy this requirement and not the assembly.
The New Mexico Building code allows the use of earth mortar to be used
in conjunction with compressed earth block, but there is no compressive strength
requirement noted for use of the mortar. Bond beams are required over
openings and a continuous bond beam is required at the top of the wall.
According to New Mexico Building Code this bond beam must be made out of
either concrete or wood.
The New Mexico Building Code also has some prescriptive requirements
on height to thickness requirements of walls. It also does not require stabilized
18


block except on the bottom course near grade. These prescriptive requirements
and others can be found in the New Mexico Building Code.
19


CHAPTER III
INTRODUCTION TO SEISMIC RESISTING WALL SYSTEMS
In order to understand how a building resists seismic loads, its important
to understand how the load is imposed on the building. The nature of seismic
load is different than any other load that the building will be exposed to in that
ground motion is imposed and load is a result. This chapter will provide a
background to how ground motion imposes lateral seismic load on buildings as
well as how modern building codes require building systems to release the
energy imposed by seismic ground motion. It will review three different masonry
wall systems that have been approved by the International Building Code for
seismic resistance and how the systems could translate to compressed earth
construction.
A Brief Summary of Earthquake Causes and Mechanics
Generally, earthquakes are caused by internal pressure that builds up and
is released with movement of tectonic plates in the earths crust. The tectonic
plates converge on fault lines and it is along these fault lines where earthquakes
are observed. Tectonic movement can manifest itself in three different
environments: extensional, compressional and transverse.
Extensional earthquakes are often shallow in depth and are identified
when the fault is aligned with the axis of ground spreading. Magnitudes of an
earthquake due to extensional tectonic movement are generally smaller than 8.0
magnitude quakes. Alternatively, an earthquake due to compressional tectonic
20


movement is much larger in magnitude than an extensional earthquake.
Compressional earthquakes are known to produce ground motion resulting in a
measured magnitude greater than 9.0. Compressional earthquakes can be
centered any depth in the earths crust. Depths of events have been measured
in a range of just below the earths surface to a depth several hundred kilometers
below the surface. Lastly, transform earthquakes have been measure up to a
magnitude 8.5 and often occur at a depth less than 25 kilometers.
Tectonic movement manifests into two different types of ground motions
called P-waves and S-waves. P waves move quickly and cause ground to move
horizontally to the earth crust. S waves move far slower and manifest themselves
in more vertical movement. P waves cause ground motion to move parallel to the
ground while S waves cause ground motion perpendicular to the ground.
Because the waves move at a different speed, observation of time between the
arrival of P and S waves at multiple locations can be used to triangulate the
epicenter of the earthquake.
The most widely-used scale for measuring earthquake magnitude is called
the moment magnitude scale and is based on a mathematical formula that takes
into account the largest amplitude and period of ground motion. The scale is
logarithmic, meaning an increase of one magnitude will result in a 10 times
increase in amplitude of ground motion and a 31 times increase in energy of the
event. Table 1 shows average recurrence of magnitude quakes as noted by the
United States Geological Survey.
21


Table 1-Average Earthquake Magnitude Global Recurrence
Magnitude Annual Occurrence
8.5 -8.9 0.3
00 o 00 1.1
7.5 -7.9 3.1
7.0-7.4 15
6.5 -6.9 56
6.0-6.4 210
Structural Response to Ground Motion
Understanding the structural response to ground motion is the key to
designing a building that will withstand a seismic event. Seismic load is unique in
the sense that the load does not originate from force being directly imposed on
the building like wind or gravity. A cyclic movement at the base is imposed, and
the inertial mass of the building is what imposes the load in itself. This means
different buildings will respond differently to the same earthquake. A particular
earthquake may be more damaging to a relatively flexible steel structure than a
masonry building that has a stiffer lateral load resisting system. The ground
movement causes an inertial force to be imparted on the in place structure. The
ground motion imposes a deflection, which as a result imposes lateral forces to
be counterattacked by the lateral force resisting system.
The ground movement imposed by the earthquake can be inches or feet
and can cause tremendous damage to the structure. Generally speaking, ground
motion from stronger earthquakes is not resisted in a manner that preserves the
use of the building. The natural response of the structure to the ground motion
causes enough damage to architectural and structural elements makes the
22


building unusable. The goal of structural seismic design is generally life safety
and not building preservation.
The key to seismic design is to pick a material that has a predictable
behavior and fails in a ductile manner. Steel is the most ideal material that falls
into this category and is why it is used to reinforce masonry wall systems.
Masonry is a brittle material and fails abruptly when not reinforced with steel. The
ductility of the steel will be used to dissipate the energy of the system by
stressing the material beyond its yield point. The force and deformation
undertaken by the steel reinforcing will result in work energy dissipated.
Design of Masonry Earthquake Resisting Systems
Modern building codes allow reinforced masonry walls to resist seismic
loading in building up to 160 feet (IBC 2006) in areas where high seismic risk
exists. In these areas, the building code will require the designer to consider
special detailing requirements. These requirements will often require additional
shear reinforcing into the wall and to analyze the amount of tension reinforcing
used in the wall. The goal of the code-specified detailing requirements is to
ensure that the wall steel yields in flexure prior to failure in the shear condition.
The cyclic yielding of the vertical wall steel dissipates energy without a total
failure of the masonry assembly.
23


Seismic Resisting Wall Configurations
Three common masonry wall construction methods are described below.
All three configurations traditionally use concrete or clay block material, but
compressed earth blocks are also applied in these configurations.
Unreinforced Masonry Walls
Unreinforced masonry walls have been a common building material
throughout all ages of construction. The material is durable and many of the
iconic buildings constructed out of unreinforced masonry are still standing today.
Tall buildings like the Federal Archive Building in New York require wall
thicknesses that exceed eight feet in width. The reason an unreinforced system
was used simply because the technology did not exist to efficiently embed steel
into masonry.
Unreinforced masonry buildings are common in historic neighborhoods
throughout the United States. The seismic performance of such a system is
poor. Because the masonry has little tension capacity and no steel to enhance
such a capacity, the systems ability to dissipate the energy due to ground motion
is inhibited. The high mass of the thick walls also causes the seismic loads to be
higher than thin systems. Modern building codes do not allow new commercial
buildings to be configured in this way because of the potential hazard that they
present when exposed to seismic event. If small scale construction projects are
completed with this system, the engineer must show by calculation that
catastrophic damage will not occur if the system is stretched beyond the capacity
of material.
24


Reinforced Masonry Walls
Reinforced masonry walls are common practice in modern building
systems. The composite system utilizes the high compression strength of
masonry and combines it with the high tension strength of steel. As shown in
Figure 8, steel reinforcing is installed between face shells of either single wythe
or double wythe masonry. The two different systems are bonded together by
filling the annular spaces with grout that bonds to both steel reinforcing and
masonry materials.
Figure 8-Reinforced Masonry Construction (Reinforced Brick Walls, 2005).
The result of the combination of materials is a stronger and more ductile
system than the unreinforced masonry. Energy is dissipated through yielding of
the steel reinforcing. The masonry is exposed to cyclic compression and shear
forces. This method of construction is widely accepted for use by modern
building codes for building heights less than 160 ft.
25


Confined Masonry Walls
Confined masonry walls are a common practice in developing countries.
While these systems are legal for construction in the United States, they are not
often built. Confined masonry consist of cast in place concrete column and beam
surrounding the masonry walls. Reinforcing in the concrete columns resists
tension loads due to the overturning and the masonry supplies the shear
resistance as well as the compression resistance to the overturning load. See
configuration in Figure 9 where masonry is highlighted in yellow.
Figure 9-Confined masonry layout (Confined Masonry Build-Up, 2011)
26


CHAPTER IV
OVERVIEW OF TESTING
Objective of Testing
The experiments performed in this report were intended to observe the
behavior of common compressed earth unit/mortar assemblies and compare
them to known concrete block behavior. The three distinct small scale tests were
developed as the focus of this research: compressed earth block/mortar
assembly under static compression loading, mortar and poured earth grout mix
under static compression loading, and compressed earth block/mortar assembly
under cyclic compression loading. The behavior of earth assemblies and
components will be compared to the concrete counterparts.
Materials
Compressed Earth Block Components
The original intent of the research was to manufacture the compressed
earth blocks and control the manufacturing process from start to finish. It was
intended that the brick press at the University of Colorado at Boulder be used to
manufacture all blocks. Due to budget cuts, the brick press became inaccessible
for use. It is suggested that for future research the manufacturing process be
controlled if at all possible. All of the compressed earth blocks were purchased
from the only commercial manufacturer in Colorado. The manufacturer is located
in Mack, Colorado, just West of Grand Junction, where natural clay deposits sit
on the surface.
27


The blocks were produced with a hydraulic press and compressed using a
pressure of approximately 150 psi. Volume of earth material was decreased by a
factor of 2 when compared to the non-compacted volume. The mix design of the
blocks itself consisted as follows in Table 2. Portland cement was used to
stabilize the mixture against damage due to water intrusion.
Table 2 Compressed Earth Block Mix
CEB Mix Parts
Clay 1
Sand 4
Cement 0.25
Water Content 8%
A soil gradation was run by the brick manufacturer. The natural clay
around the area consisted of a well-graded silty-clay with some fine to medium
sand. The clay gradation analysis was provided by the manufacturer was
converted into a gradation curve shown in Figure 10.
Figure 10 Natural Clay Soil Gradation
28


The sand was sourced from a pit located near Mack, CO and consists of a
moderately graded medium to course sand. The sand analysis was provided by
the manufacturer was converted into a gradation curve shown in Figure 11.
SAND GRAVEL
Fne | Medium [ Cowse Fine Coarse
Grain Diameter (mm)
Figure 11 Soil Gradation Sand Mix
Earth Mortar
The earth mortar was mixed using the same clay that was sourced for the
compressed earth block construction. The clay was available close to the
surface of the ground and was able to be collected with shovels. The sand used
in the mixes was typical masonry sand purchased from a commercial
manufacturer. The gradation analysis of the masonry sand is shown in a
gradation curve in Figure 12.
29


FINES
SAND
GRAVEL
Course
Course
Grain Diameter (mm)
Figure 12 Masonry Sand Soil Gradation
Portland cement was added to the mortar mix as a stabilizer in consistent
quantity as the compressed earth blocks. Water content of the mortar was not
predetermined and common industry practice was used to obtain a workable
mortar. Water was added in 8 ounce increments until a workable mortar was
achieved. For these experiments, a workable mortar was defined to be a mortar
that has a 4 slump. The water content was measured and recoded in the
following mix tables. Mix designs of Earth Mortar were mixed are as follows as
shown in Table 3 and were based on mixes used in the case study on the Crow
Indian reservation noted in the literature review(Allen, 2012). Relative parts noted
in the table are based on weight of material.
30


Table 3 Earth Mortar Mixes
Mortar Mix
1 1:4
Clay 1
Sand 4
Cement 0.35
Water Content 15.8%
Mortar Mix
2 1:1
Clay 2.5
Sand 2.5
Cement 0.35
Water Content 19.2%
Mortar Mix
3 4:1
Clay 4
Sand 1
Cement 0.35
Water Content 24.6%
Control CMU
Standard concrete masonry units with a specified compressive strength of
2000 psi were purchased. Size of the units were 4 x 8 x 2.
Cement Mortar
A bag of premixed type 0 mortar was used in testing of materials. Type 0
was specified in an attempt to find a compatible mortar with the compressed
earth blocks. The lower compressive strength of the blocks requires a lower
31


compressive strength of mortar or the blocks could fail prematurely due to stress
increases.
Preparation of Samples
Preparation of Compressed Earth Block
The compressed earth block was originally manufactured as a 12 x 12
block and weighed approximately 20 pounds each. See Figure 13 for full sized
units.
Figure 13 -Full Sized Units
A prism that large would not have fit on the compression apparatus and would
have been difficult to handle with each prism weighing 60 pounds. The blocks
were cut in half using a concrete saw making each unit 6x12. This fit the
32


machine and made the prisms easier to handle. See Figure 14 for saw and
Figure 15 for final geometry of blocks.
Figure 14 Block Saw
Figure 15 Compressed Earth Blocks Cut
33


Mixing of Mortar
Mortar mixing was performed in large plastic bins using a trowel. All dry
components were added and dry mixed toughly before adding water.
Figure 16 Dry Mix
34


Consistent with standard practice, water was added in 8 ounce increments until a
workable mixture was achieved.
Figure 17 Mortar Mix
35


Slump was tested in accordance with ASTM C1437 and the mixture was
deemed workable when a 4 slump was achieved as consistent with standard
practice (Allen, 2012).
Figure 18 Slump Test
36


CEB Prism Assemblies
Three block prisms were assembled with 5/8 thick mortar joints. Mortar
was placed on the top of the first block. A second block was placed on top of the
first and leveled using a using a bubble level. The process was repeated for the
third block. Six prisms were created of each mortar mix. See Figure 19 for photo
of assembled prisms. Assemblies were set aside and allowed to dry and cure for
a minimum of 28 days before testing was completed.
Figure 19 Compressed Earth Prisms
37


Mortar Cubes
Mortar cubes were poured of each of the four mortar mixes. 3.5x3.5x7
mortar cubes were poured in accordance with ASTM C780. Wood forms were
used in the casting of the mortar cubes. Prior to pouring, forms were oiled. Five
of each mortar specimens were poured.
Figure 20 Mortar Cube Forms
The forms were stripped after 14 days and the specimens were allowed
set aside to dry and cure for an additional 14 days.
38


Observations of Specimens
Many of the blocks procured had been exposed to moisture prior to the
purchase. Despite the cement in the mix some of the blocks were severely
damaged. It appeared water had pooled on the stack of blocks and caused them
to degrade. Some blocks were also irregular in shape. See Figure 21 for typical
chips damage to blocks. An effort was mode to use the most regular and intact
blocks however some did have chips.
Figure 21 Damaged Blocks
39


The bond between the earth mortars and the compressed earth blocks
was low. In the cases of the mortars with the high clay for content, the mortar
had shrunk and debonded from the face of the block.
Figure 22 Cracked Earth Mortar
40


Consolidation of the mortar cubes was difficult with the lower clay content
mixes. In some cases the consolidation issues were so bad that the specimen
needed to be discarded and could not be used for testing. See Figure 23 for
picture of unconsolidated earth mortar.
Figure 23 Mortar cube consolidation
41


The most workable mortar was the cement-lime mortar. All the earth
mortars were somewhat workable even at a 4 slump. However, it was clear that
the consolidation of the mortar could inhibit the bond between the compressed
earth block and the mortar. Cement mortars did not display this characteristic at
all. See Figure 24 for cement mortar prisms.
Figure 24 Concrete Block Prisms
42


Capping
Capping of the compressed earth block prisms presented a unique
challenge with this material. The material crumbled easily, and finding a capping
method that adhered consistently to the crumbling block proved to be difficult.
After a number of capping methods were tried, a neoprene cap was determined
to adequately distribute load around the specimen. It was determined to be
adequate by testing single units capped in plaster and comparing the test
compressive strengths and fracture patterns to the units capped in neoprene
rubber. Below, in Table 4, is a summary of compressive strength of units as with
different capping methods.
Table 4 Block Strength w/ Different Caps
Test# Neoprene Cap Compression Force Strain
1 81.4 0.082
2 78.4 0.088
3 69.7 0.072
Average: 76.5
Max Stress 1.06 ksi
Test# Plaster Cap Compression Force Strain
1 76.9 0.079
2 79.2 0.089
3 78.9 0.076
Average: 78.3
Max Stress 1.09 ksi
43


Fracture patterns between the blocks capped with neoprene and the
blocks capped with plaster were confirmed to be similar. There was no indication
of local failure in the material due to capping. By comparing these two sets of
data, it was determined that a neoprene rubber cap performed adequately as a
capping material.
Testing Apparatus
The testing apparatus is a 250 kip maximum hydraulic compression ram.
One inch thick steel plates were applied to the top and bottom platens of the
apparatus in order to help spread out the load. The thickness was specified in
order to ensure a rigid and even distribution of force across the top face of the
block.
Figure 25 Prism Loaded in Testing Apparatus
44


The top plate of the apparatus remains fixed, and the top piston moves
upward to impose compression on the specimen. The upper piston is moved by
hydraulic pressure transported from the pump through tubes and piping. The
maximum travel of the piston is approximately 10. The apparatus reports back
vertical travel of the ram head and compressive force being imposed on the test
specimen.
Testing Procedures
Static Compression Strength Testing of Compressed Earth Assembly
1. 3-block prisms were assembled and capped as noted in previous section.
2. Three prisms from each mortar mix was subject to an escalating
compression load until failure. The compression load was generated by a
specifying a strain rate of the piston of 0.005 in per second. The force and
displacements were recorded at intervals of 0.1 S.
Static Compression Strength Testing of Earth Mortar
1. Mortar cubes were assembled and capped as noted in previous section.
2. Four mortar cubes from each mortar mix was subject to an escalating
compression load until failure. The compression load was generated by a
specifying a strain rate of the piston of 0.005 in per second. The force and
displacements were recorded at intervals of 0.1 S.
Dynamic Testing
1. 3-block prisms were assembled and capped as noted in previous section.
2. One prism from each mortar mix was subject to a load that is 50%
expected ultimate strength (calculated from static tests) and is cycled until
45


failure. Load is applied and unloaded repeatedly until failure occurs. A
maximum of 100 cycles were applied to the each specimen. A 3-5 k/s load
rate was applied, depending on the ultimate compressive force observed
in the static compression tests. Force and displacements are recorded at
intervals of 0.1 S. Number of cycles to cause failure were also recorded.
See Figure 26 for the load functions that were used.
3. One prism from each mortar mix was subject to a load that is 90%
expected ultimate strength (calculated from static tests) and is cycled until
failure. Load is applied and unloaded repeatedly until failure occurs. A
maximum of 100 cycles were applied to the each specimen. A 3-5 k/s load
rate was applied, depending on the ultimate compressive force observed
in the static compression tests. Force and displacements are recorded at
intervals of 0.1 S. Number of cycles to cause failure were also recorded.
See Figure 26 for the load functions that were used.
Cyclic Force Functions
Figure 26 Cyclic Force Function
46


Testing Observations and Photos
A typical fracture pattern of compressed earth block prism is shown in
Figure 27 below. Typical failure was on the middle block with the corners of the
blocks showing cracks before the reset of the block. Cracks formed through the
middle block and then were continued through the top and bottom blocks.
47


A typical fracture pattern of mortar cubes is shown in Figure 28 below.
Typical failure was on the middle of the cube and usually at the corners.
Figure 28 Typical Mortar Failure
48


The failure of the cyclic compressions tests was brittle. See below in
Figure 29 is a still frame extracted from the video taken of the test the cycle
before failure.
Figure 29 Prism Prior To Failure
49


Figure 30 shows the failure occurring at the next cycle. The failure is
Figure 30 Prism Just After Failure
50


CHAPTER V
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
Data Collected
For static compression tests: With the specimen in the apparatus, a rate of
downward movement of the piston head was specified of 0.001 inches/s. At this
rate, the specimen would presumably reach failure in less than 2 minutes as a
result of the imposed compression force due to the imposed strain. The data
recorded was height of the piston and force applied to the specimen.
For cyclic compression tests: With specimen in place, a specified maximum
force was applied using a repeating ramp function. A downward movement of the
piston head could not be specified for this material because the material was not
perfectly elastic. Two tests were performed, one using cycles with ramp force
peaking at 50% maximum load and another using cycles with ramp force peaking
at 90% max load.
The maximum forces applied were generated based on the static
compression results. The rate of force was specified to yield a cyclic period of
approximately 10-20 seconds per cycle. The rate of force was usually between
two and four kips per second, depending on the max force of assembly. The
data recorded was height of the piston and force applied to the specimen.
51


Calculations
Because we are observing behavior, there are several main pieces of data
that we will be observing.
Maximum Stress
Equation for maximum stress is given Equation 1, where a is axial stress,
P is maximum axial force measured by the apparatus, and A is area of block.
P
a = A
Equation 1 Axial Stress
Strain
Equation for strain is given in Equation 2 where AL is change is height of
specimen as calculated from data generated from apparatus and L is initial
height of specimen
A L
£~~
Equation 2 Strain
Modulus of Elasticity
Modulus of elasticity is calculated per Equation 3 where s is strain as
calculated in Equation 2 and a is stress as calculated in Equation 1
e
E =
a
Equation 3 Modulus of Elasticity
52


Work Energy
Work energy dissipated is calculated by integrating the strain. Where L is
height of specimen and F is force. This calculation can be simplified by taking
the area under the hysteresis curve.
W = [ F dl
Jo
Equation 4 Work Energy
CEB Static Testing Results
Generally, the compression strength testing of compressed earth
assemblies with all three earth mortars behaved similarly when compared to
each other and the average compression strength results were all within 100 psi.
A 20% increase in strength was observed in the 1:4 mortar mix assemblage
which behaved similarly to the compressed earth block with concrete mortar.
The concrete assemblies far exceeded the both compressive strength and
modulus of elasticity of the compressed earth system. The following tables and
graphs show the results for compressive strength, modulus of elasticity and the
stress strain curves produced by the experiments.
53


Compressed Earth Block with 1:4 Mortar Mix
Table 5 below summarizes the results from the static compression strength test.
Figure 31 represents the stress-strain curve for the results.
Table 5 Static Test Results CEB w/1:4 Mortar
CEB with Earth Mortar 1:4
Max Modulus of
Specimen number Force (kips) Deflection (inches) Compressive Strength (ksi) Elasticity (ksi) Average Compressive Strength
618 41.4 0.25 0.58 41.90 0.48 ksi
619 25.9 0.26 0.36 35.10 Average Modulus of Elasticity
620 36.3 0.26 0.50 48.40 41.80 ksi
CEB 1:4 Mortar
Figure 31 Stress/Strain Results CEB w/1:4 Mortar
54


Compressed Earth Block with 1:1 Mortar Mix
Table 6 below summarizes the results from the static compression strength test.
Figure 32 represents the stress-strain curve for the results.
Table 6-Static Test Results CEB w/1:1 Mortar
CEB with Earth Mortar 1:1
Specimen number Max Force (kips) Deflection (inches) Compressive Strength (ksi) Modulus of Elasticity (ksi) Average Compressive Strength
626 27.1 0.33 0.38 26.00 0.39 ksi
627 28.2 0.29 0.39 25.80 Average Modulus of Elasticity
628 28.7 0.31 0.40 29.00 26.93 ksi
CEB 1:1 Mortar
0.45
Figure 32 Stress Strain Curve 1:4 Mortar
55


Compressed Earth Block with 4:1 Mortar Mix
Table 7-Static Test Results CEB w/4:1 Mortar below summarizes the results from the
static compression strength test. Figure 33 represents the stress-strain curve for the
results.
Table 7-Static Test Results CEB w/ 4:1 Mortar
CEB with Earth Mortar 4:1
Specimen number Max Force (kips) Deflection (inches) Compressive Strength (ksi) Modulus of Elasticity (ksi) Average Compressive Strength
631 29.2 0.31 0.41 30.1 0.36 ksi
632 21.5 0.26 0.30 27.80 Average Modulus of Elasticity
633 26.2 0.31 0.36 25.10 27.67 ksi
CEB 4:1 Mortar
0.45
Figure 33 Stress/Strain Results CEB w/ 4:1 Mortar
56


Compressed Earth Block with Cement Mortar Mix
Table 8 below summarizes the results from the static compression strength test.
Figure 34 represents the stress-strain curve for the results.
Table 8-Static Test Results CEB w/ Cement Mortar
CEB with Cement Mortar
Max Force Deflection Modulus
of
Specimen Compressive Elasticity Average Compressive
number kips_________inches Strength (ksi) (ksi) Strength________________
634 41.6 0.31 0.58 51.7
635 35.9 0.31 0.50 40.30
636 39.1 0.32 0.54 30.10
0.54 ksi
Average Modulus of Elasticity
40.70 ksi
CEB Cerment Mortar
0.7
Figure 34- Stress/Strain Results CEB w/ Cement Mortar
57


Concrete Masonry Unit with Cement Mortar
Table 9 below summarizes the results from the static compression strength test.
Figure 35 represents the stress-strain curve for the results.
Table 9-Static Test Results Concrete Block w/ Cement Mortar
Concrete block with Cement Mortar
Max Force Deflection Modulus
Compressive of
Specimen Strength Elasticity
number kips inches (ksi) (ksi) Average Compressive Strength
623 72.5 0.08 2.26 385 2.26 ksi
624 64.2 0.08 2.01 293 Average Modulus of Elasticity
625 80.0 0.07 2.50 446 374.67 ksi
Concrete Block Cement Mortar
3
Figure 35 Stress/Strain Results Concrete Block w/ Cement Mortar
58


Mortar Cubes Testing
Generally, the earth mortar cubes recorded compression strengths that
were below expectations. Compression strength, as reported in previous
research, were in the range of 300 pounds per square inch (Williamson, 2012)
while mortar cubes tested for the purpose of this report were in the range of 100
pounds per square inch. The modulus of elasticity also was relatively low
indicating a soft and deformable material. There was no correlation between
relative compressive strength of mixes and clay content of the mix. The 1:4 mix
reported the highest compressive strength, while the 1:1 mixture reported the
lowest.
59


Poured Earth Grout 1:4 Mix
Table 10 below summarizes the results from the static compression strength test.
Figure 36 represents the stress-strain curve for the results.
Table 10-Compressive Test Results for Earth Mortar 1:4 Mix
Earth Mortar 1:4
Specimen number Max Force (kips) Deflection (inches) Compressive Strength (ksi) Modulus of Elasticity (ksi) Average Compressive Strength
650 1.20 0.1 0.112 8.00 0.096 ksi
651 0.90 0.06 0.084 13.70 Average Modulus of Elasticity
652 1.00 0.06 0.093 12.20 11.30 ksi
1:4 Mortar
0.12
Figure 36-Stress/Strain Results for Earth Mortar 1:4 Mix
60


Poured Earth Grout 1:1 Mix
Table 11 below summarizes the results from the static compression strength test.
Figure 37 represents the stress-strain curve for the results.
Table 11-Compressive Test Results for Earth Mortar 1:1 Mix
Earth Mortar 1:1
Specimen number Max Force (kips) Deflection (inches) Compressive Strength (ksi) Modulus of Elasticity (ksi) Average Compressive Strength
636 0.30 0.12 0.028 4.40 0.025 ksi
637 0.30 0.12 0.028 4.20 Average Modulus of Elasticity
638 0.27 0.08 0.025 3.30 3.33 ksi
639 0.22 0.10 0.020 1.40
1:1 Mortar
0.03
Figure 37-Stress/Strain Results for Earth Mortar 1:1 Mix
61


Poured Earth Mortar 4:1 Mix
Table 12 below summarizes the results from the static compression strength test.
Figure 38 represents the stress-strain curve for the results.
Table 12-Compressive Test Results for Earth Mortar 4:1 Mix
Earth Mortar 4:1
Specime n number Max Force (kips) Deflection (inches) Compressive Strength (ksi) Modulus of Elasticity (ksi) Average Compressive Strength
640 0.55 0.10 0.051 5.00 0.043 ksi
642 0.50 0.06 0.047 7.90 Average Modulus of Elasticity
643 0.39 0.10 0.036 2.80 5.35 ksi
644 0.40 0.12 0.037 5.70
4:1 Mortar
0.05
Figure 38-Stress/Strain Results for Earth Mortar 4:1 Mix
62


Cement Mortar Mix
Table 13 below summarizes the results from the static compression strength test.
Figure 39 represents the stress-strain curve for the results.
Table 13-Compressive Test Results for Earth Cement Mortar Mix
Cement Mortar Mix
Specimen number Max Force (kips) Deflection (inches) Compressive Strength (ksi) Modulus of Elasticity (ksi) Average Compressive Strength
645 22.1 0.11 2.056 87.00 2.172 ksi
646 22.4 0.1 2.084 135.00 Average Modulus of Elasticity
647 24.7 0.12 2.298 125.00 125.25 ksi
648 24.2 0.11 2.251 154.00
Cement Mortar
2.5
Figure 39 Compressive Test Results for Cement Mortar Mix
63


Cyclic Test Results
Below is a summary of energy absorbed as calculated as noted in
Equation 4. Energy was taken through the first 5 load cycles. Despite the
softness of the compressed earth block, concrete block assembly still absorbed
more energy than the compressed earth assembly.
Table 14 Energy Absorbed in First 5 Cycles
Energy absorbed (lb*in/in3)
1:4 1:1 4:1 C Concrete block
3.1 2.1 2.1 3.3
7.4 5.1 6.3 6.1 32.3
The cyclic results are reported in the form of a stress-strain hysteresis.
Overall, the compressed earth block and earth mortar material maintained
compressive strength through the 50% ultimate strength load cycles. However,
when pushed to cycles of 90% ultimate strength, the material lost integrity.
Generally, the material was less stiff than the concrete block assembly, however,
it displayed very little elasticity even at low loading and deformed permanently
upon the initial loading of the sample. Strength degraded as the cycles
progressed and in some cases ultimately failed as the tests approached the end
of the duration.
64


Compressed Earth Block with 1:4 Mortar Mix 50% Hysterisis
1-4 50% Hysterisis
Compressed Earth Block with 1:4 Mortar Mix 90% Hysterisis
1-4 90% Hysterisis
0.5
0.45
65


Compressed Earth Block with 1:1 Mortar Mix 50% Hysterisis
1-1 50% Hysterisis
Compressed Earth Block with 1:1 Mortar Mix 90% Hysterisis
1-1 90% Hysterisis
66


Compressed Earth Block with 4:1 Mortar Mix 50% Hysterisis
4-1 50% Hysterisis
Compressed Earth Block with 4:1 Mortar Mix 90% Hysterisis
4-1 90% Hysterisis
c
o
CD
Q.
E
o
u
00
-0.02
0.4
0 0.02 0.04 0.06
Inches
0.08
0.1
67


Compressed Earth Block with Cement Mortar 50% Hysterisis
CEB-C 50% Hysterisis
Compressed Earth Block with Cement Mortar 90% Hysterisis
CEB-C 90% Hysterisis
68


KSI (Compression)
Concrete Block Assembly 90% Hysterisis
Concrete Block 90% Hysterisis
69


CHAPTER VI
CONCLUSIONS AND INTERPRETATIONS OF RESULTS
Analysis of Data and Observations
Compressed Earth Block and Mortar Assembly: Static Testing
The compressed earth block units displayed a moderate level of
compression design strength with test results reporting an average compressive
strength for all mixes between 300-600 psi. There appeared to be no correlation
between clay content and compression strength of assembly. The earth block
assembly held about 25% of the compressive strength when comparing the
behavior to that of the concrete block and cement mortar assembly.
Earth Mortar Mix
The earth mortar provided compressive strengths in the range of 25-100
psi. A correlation of strength to clay content could not be drawn from the
compressive strength testing. Earth mortar compressive strength results were
about 5% when compared to that of the cement mix. These compressive
strengths are adequate when applying the material as a mortar.
When applying the mortar material as a poured earth grout, consolidation
issues were observed. In addition to the poor consolidation of the material, the
compressive strength of 25-100 psi is low for structural applications.
Compressed Earth Block and Mortar Assembly: Cyclic Testing
During the cyclic testing, the compressed earth units displayed a desirable
behavior when being exposed to loading of 50% of the ultimate compression
70


strength. The material showed no sign of reduced capacity. Initially, the sample
underwent some permanent deformation. When increasing the load cycle to
90% of the ultimate capacity, the compressed earth block assembly did not
behave in a ductile manner. The prisms underwent permanent deflection and the
1:4 and 4:1 mixes failed after 45 and 57 load cycles respectively. While the 1:1
and cement mortar mix made it through the testing, the permanent deflection
indicated that failure would have occurred had the test extended much longer.
The concrete block and cement mortar displayed elastic behavior and little
permanent deflection.
Conclusions
Static Compression Strength of Compressed Earth Assembly
The compressed earth block assemblage can be used to resist vertical
loading in lightly loaded, static forces. While the compressive strength was not as
high as the concrete block, the behavior shown in the testing yielded a
compressive strength that can be used in light to moderate loading conditions. A
thicker wall can be specified to accommodate the reduced strength of material.
The behavior of the block assembly during failure could be classified as brittle in
nature, totally crumbling when a load beyond the ultimate capacity of the
assembly was exceeded. Because of the brittleness, a higher safety factor is
recommended when using the blocks without steel reinforcing. Typical factors of
safety for unreinforced masonry are around 2.0 2.5.
The performance of the earth mortar mix when used as a mortar within the
compressed earth block assembly allowed the assembly to resist lightly loaded,
71


static forces. Because no clear relationship between the clay content and
compressive strength could be found, its recommended to perform testing on the
block assembly with the selected mortar mix prior to construction. It was clear
however, through the testing, that the strength of the compressed earth block
and mortar assembly was affected by the compressive strength of the mortar.
The best performing assemblies consisted of mortar that recorded higher
compressive strengths and not necessarily the more workable mortar as is
typical with concrete masonry assembly.
Static Compression Strength of Mortar
The earth mortar mix performed adequately when applied as a mortar.
The low compression strength was made up for by the restraint the block
provides at the mortar joints. The consistency of most mortar assemblies was
workable and an evenly spread bed joint was able to be obtained.
When applying the earth mortar mix as a poured earth grout, the material
did not carry enough compression strength to resist structural loading. The low
compression strength in the unrestrained applications does not meet
jurisdictional standards to be classified as a structural material. Using earth
mortar as a poured earth grout in this configuration cant be recommended. As
noted, this has been common practice when using compressed earth block
assemblies. It can be concluded from these tests that using an earth mortar mix
in a formed or poured condition in conjunction with compressed earth block
assembly is not recommended.
72


Cyclic Compression Strength of Compressed Earth Assembly
The compressed earth block assemblies absorbed the cyclic loading
condition when the peak load was limited to 50% of expected ultimate strength.
In the 50% load cycle there was some permanent deflection, but the sample
maintained structural integrity through the balance of the testing. All four
compressed earth block and mortar assemblies completed the 100 cycles of the
test and maintained structural integrity. Conversely, the assemblies did not
absorb the loading condition when exposed to load cycles at 90% of the
expected ultimate strength. Mixes of the 1:4 and 4:1 mortar failed after 45 and 57
load cycles respectively. The whole prism completely crumbled when it failed.
The failure was brittle and resulted in total loss of structural integrity. Because of
the nature of the failure, a higher factor of safety than typical reinforced masonry
is recommended when calculating seismic design strength. It is recommended to
use a material other than the compressed earth block as means of energy
dissipation as consistent with modern building codes. Using another material as
a means of energy dissipation will allow the forces on the compressed earth
block to be limited by the capacity of the energy dissipating material.
73


Energy Dissipation
After comparing the results of the compressed earth block versus concrete
masonry systems, calculations show that that concrete masonry assembly
dissipates about 5 times more energy than the compressed earth block
assembly. Despite the reduced modulus elastic and higher ultimate strain of the
compressed earth assembly, the high strength of the CMU assembly absorbs
and dissipates more energy in a cyclic loading condition.
2
Combined Hysteresis
0.
0.
0.
1.
1.
1.
1.
0
-----CEB
----CMU
0
0.005
0.01
0.015
Strain (IN/IN)
Figure 40 Combined Hysteresis
74


Limitations of the Material
The compressed earth block assemblies are have a brittle behavior and
are limited by relatively low compression strength. Design solutions such as
using higher safety factors, thicker walls and other materials to aid in dissipation
of seismic energy will be required when using compressed earth block assembly.
Using the earth mortar as a poured earth grout is limited as a structural
material due to its low compressive strength. The compression strength of the
material was so low, it would be difficult to find a compatible reinforcing small
enough so as to yield the reinforcing prior to crushing of the poured earth. This
can result in an over-reinforced section, leading to brittle failure if the section is
overstressed. Using the mortar material as a poured earth grout is not a
recommended practice at this time. It is recommended that conventional cement
and sand grout be used in lieu of attempting to pour earth mortar as grout.
75


CHAPTER VII
FUTURE TESTING RECOMMENDATIONS
The small scale testing revealed valuable information regarding the
regarding the behavior of the compressed earth blocks and earth mortar
assemblies. Further testing is required to determine how ductile compressed
earth assemblies behave and how a large scale system behaves during a
seismic event. The following chapter presents two proposed configurations for
full scale testing of masonry walls. The configurations of confined masonry and
unreinforced masonry are two common applications and if designed properly are
most likely to perform well in in seismic testing.
Ideal Configurations and Applications of Compressed Earth Block
Considering the limitations noted, the ideal application of the compressed
earth assembly would be where energy is dissipated through steel reinforcing or
the compression demand is limited to a lower stress. Two theoretical systems are
proposed for future research: confined compressed earth masonry, intended to
resist lateral loads in areas of high seismic risk; and unreinforced compressed
earth masonry, intended to be applied in a location where seismic risk is low.
Confined Masonry Configuration Proposed Testing Procedure
Proposed Configuration of Wall
A confined masonry following configuration is recommended for future
research because of its common application in developing countries and
apparent ductile behavior of the configuration. In order to ensure energy is
76


dissipated through the reinforcing steel the vertical compression capacity in the
compression block should be designed to the capacity of the flexural reinforcing.
This would ensure the compressed earth block behaves in the elastic range. The
point of this test would be to observe the behavior and measure of energy
dissipation due to the inelastic behavior of the wall assembly.
Figure 41 Confined Masonry Test
Proposed Testing Procedure
The general testing procedure noted below is to determine how much
strength the system maintains when seismic deflections are imposed on the
77


confined masonry wall configuration. Full scale testing will reveal if the actual
behavior of the confined masonry assembly made up of compressed earth block
is adequate to resist seismic load and dissipate energy through the inelastic
behavior.
1. Begin by applying a lateral load on the wall with preliminary load cycles.
The load cycles as shown below in Figure 42.
Initial Load Cycle
1.5
'co
&_
h<
(/)
2
92
>-
x
CO
<
-1.5
Time
Figure 42 Initial Load Cycle
2. Use the preliminary load cycles to determine strain at maximum load.
3. Apply the load cycle as show in Figure 43.
78


5
Test Load Cycle
Figure 43 Test Load Cycle
79


Unreinforced Masonry Configuration Proposed Testing Procedure
Proposed Configuration of Wall
An unreinforced masonry wall is recommended for testing because of its
simplicity and ease to construct. As such, it would represent a common
application of this material. The lack of steel reinforcing will require the system to
maintain elastic behavior. The intent of this test would be to define maximum
safe lateral design load by completing a static test to failure on the complete
assembly. See Figure 44 below for the configuration of the testing apparatus.
CEMENT LIME GROUTED
BOND BEAM
UNREiNFORCED COMPRESSED
EARTH BLOCK AND EARTH
MORTARASSEMBLY
Figure 44 Unreinforced Masonry Test
80


Proposed Testing Procedure
1. Place specimen in load frame and apply preliminary test load of 10%.
2. Use the preliminary load cycles to determine strain at maximum load and
strain to calculate strain rate to be applied from the lateral load piston.
3. Apply an escalating load by means of an increasing strain as calculated in
step 2 as shown in Figure 45 below.
Test Ramp Function
1.2
'co
h<
W
2
92
x
CO
<
Figure 45 Test Ramp Function
81


REFERENCES
ASTM International. (2010). E2392/E2392M Standard Guide for Design of
Earthen Wall Building Systems. ASTM International, PA.
ASTM Standard C 39. (2010). Standard Test Method for Compressive Strength
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PA, www.astm.org.
ASTM Standard C 1314. (2010). Standard Test Method for Compressive
Strength of Masonry Prisms, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA,
www.astm.org.
ASTM Standard D 422. (2007). Standard Test Method for Particle-Size Analysis
of Soils, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, www.astm.org.
Atkinson-Noland & Associates, Inc. (2012, March 16). Masonry Shear Testing.
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82


Minke, G. (2006). Building with earth design and technology of a sustainable
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83


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