Geological and engineering characteristics of expansive soils and rocks in northern Oman

Amer A. Al-Rawas*, Ingeborg Guba, A. McGown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The geology and former climate of northern Oman favoured the formation of smectite clay minerals in certain materials which are implicated in ground heave problems. Investigations have shown that the smectite content of these expansive materials was developed in Oligocene, Miocene and Pliocene times. No evidence of a significant content of smectite was found in pre Eocene strata or in Quarternary strata, except for Desert Fill. It is shown that the main types of expansive materials in northern Oman are bentonitic mudstones, marls and silty mudstones, argillaceous dolomitic limestone, altered conglomerates and the desert fill derived from these. These swelling materials exist as impersistent bands within the bedrock Tertiary conglomerates and limestones. A geotechnical testing program was carried out on undisturbed samples from Sultan Qaboos University staff housing areas where building damage had occurred, to evaluate mineralogical composition, cation content and swelling characteristics. The test results characterized these soils/rocks as highly expansive type with Na-smectite as the dominant clay mineral.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
JournalEngineering Geology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


  • Expansive soil
  • Expansive soils and rocks
  • Geotechnical property
  • Heave
  • Mineralogy
  • Oman
  • Swell percent
  • Swell pressure
  • Swelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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