Effect of Metakaolin on Strength Properties of Lateritic Soil Intended for Use as Road Construction Material

Ibrahim Ikara Abdulkarim, Sa'eed Yusuf Umar, Abbagana Muhammed, Suleiman Arafat Yero


Abstract. An excellent all-weather road is essential in providing reliable transportation services that comprise social and economic development elements. However, in most cases, the road has to be constructed on a soft foundation soil where large deformations usually occur, which causes increases in maintenance costs and leads to interruption of traffic service, especially during the wet season. It is necessary to stabilize or improve the in-situ soils. This study explores the potential of using metakaolin to improve the geotechnical properties of lateritic soil for road construction materials. The soil classifies as A-6(4) and CL according to the American Association of State Highway and Transport Officials and the Unified Soil Classification System. The soil was treated with 5, 17.5 and 30 % concentrations of metakaolin by dry weight and was compacted using three compaction energies: British Standard Light (BSL), West African Standard (WAS) and British Standard Heavy (BSH). California Bearing Ratio (CBR) and Unconfined Compressive Strength (UCS) tests were carried out to evaluate the effect of metakaolin on the soil investigated. Results showed a general improvement in the engineering properties of the soil with an increase in metakaolin content, particularly when compacted at the BSH energy level. However, the results did not meet the 1500-3000 kN/m2 7 days UCS criterion stipulated by the Nigerian General Specification for road base courses. However, 30 % lateritic soil/metakaolin blended soil compacted using WAS and BSH energy levels suffice for use as sub-base in road construction, having met the 750-1500 kN/m2 7 days UCS criterion stipulated by the Nigerian General Specification. The Peak CBR value for the treated soil, compacted using the three energy levels of BSL, WAS, and BSH, occurred at 30 % metakaolin concentration with corresponding soaked CBR values of 17, 23 and 31 %. The Nigerian General Specification recommends a nominal strength criterion of a soaked CBR value of 30 and 80 % to be attained by material to be used as sub-base and base course in road construction. Based on the above criterion, only the 30 % metakaolin treated blend compacted at the BSH energy level met the 30 % requirement for sub-base materials.


lateritic; soil; metakaolin; road; sub-base

Full Text:



ASTM International. (2016). Standard Practice for Classification of Soils and Soil-Aggregate Mixtures for Highway Construction Purposes (ASTM D3282-15). ASTM International.

Abdulkarim, I. I., & Umar, S. (2020). Performance Evaluation of the Effect of Sodium Hydroxide on Geotechnical Properties of Lateritic Soil for Rural Road Construction. FUOYE Journal of Engineering and Technology, 5(2). doi: 10.46792/fuoyejet.v5i2.479

Abdulkarim, I. I., Sa'eed, Y. U., & Yero, S. A. (2021). Performance Evaluation of the Effect of Metakaolin on Strength Properties of Non-Lateritic Soil. International Journal of Engineering and Technology Research, 21(5), 1–21.

Ahmed, M. D., & Hamza, N. A. (2015). Effect of Metakaolin on the geotechnical properties of Expansive Soil. Journal of Engineering, 21(12), 29–45.

Amu, O. O., Bamisaye, O. F., & Komolafe, I. A. (2011). The suitability and lime stabilization requirement of some lateritic soil samples as pavement. International Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences And Technology, 2(1), 29–46.

ASTM International. (2019). Standard Specification for Coal Fly Ash and Raw or Calcined Natural Pozzolan for Use in Concrete (ASTM C618-19). ASTM International.

ASTM International. (2020). Standard Practice for Classification of Soils for Engineering Purposes (Unified Soil Classification System) (ASTM D2487-17e1). ASTM International.

Blight, G. E. (2012). Origin and formation of residual soils. In C. Sidebottom (Ed.), Mechanics of Residual Soil (2nd ed.). doi: 10.1201/b12014

BSI. (1975). Methods of Tests for Stabilized Soils (BS 1924:1975). London: BSI.

BSI. (2022). Methods of test for soils for civil engineering purposes - Classification tests and determination of geotechnical properties (BS 1377-2:2022). London: BSI.

Bucher, F., & Sailie, E. L. (1984). Swelling behaviour of tropical black clays. In Proceedings of the 8th African Regional Conference on Soil mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Harare (pp. 81–86).

Cetin, H., Fener, M., Söylemez, M., & Günaydin, O. (2007). Soil structure changes during compaction of a cohesive soil. Engineering geology, 92(1-2), 38–48. doi: 10.1016/j.enggeo.2007.03.005

Ejeta, A., Quezon, E. T., & Getachew, K. (2017). Engineering properties of mechanically stabized subbase material using natural gravel aroundjimma quarry sites for unpaved road constructi. Global Scientific Journal, 5(5), 93–102.

Firoozi, A., Olgun, C., Firoozi, A., & Baghini, M. (2017). Fundamentals of soil stabilization. International Journal of Geo-Engineering, 8(1). doi: 10.1186/s40703-017-0064-9

Ikara, I., Kundiri, A., & Mohammed, A. (2016). Influence of Standard and Modified Proctor Compactive Efforts on Cement Stabilized Black Cotton Soil (BCS) with Waste Glass (WG)Admixture. IOSR Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering , 13(3), 7–16. doi: 10.9790/1684-1303070716

Ilić, B., Mitrović, A., & Miličić, L. (2010). Thermal treatment of kaolin clay to obtain metakaolin. Chemical industry, 64(4), 351–356. doi: 10.2298/hemind100322014i

Ishola, K. (2014). Modification of Lateritic Soil with Iron Ore Tailing (Master’s Thesis), Civil Engineering Department, Ahmadu Bello University.

Ishola, K., Agbolade, I. C., & Yohanna, P. (2019). Effect of Plantain Peel Ash on Gradation and Compaction Characteristics of Tropical Soil. FUOYE Journal of Engineering and Technology, 4(2). doi: 10.46792/fuoyejet.v4i2.382

Ishola, K., Ijimdiya, T., Yohanna, P., & Osinubi, K. (2020). Evaluation of shear strength of compacted iron ore tailings treated lateritic soil. Platform – A Journal of Engineering, 4(3), 48–58.

Jadhao, P., & Nagarnaik, P. (2008). Influence of Polypropylene Fibers on Engineering Behavior of Soil − Fly Ash Mixtures for Road Construction. Electronic Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, 13, 1–11.

Jamsawang, P., Voottipruex, P., & Horpibulsuk, S. (2014). Flexural Strength Characteristics of Compacted Cement-Polypropylene Fiber Sand. Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, 27(9), 04014243. doi: 10.1061/(asce)mt.1943-5533.0001205

Jefferson, I., & Rogers, C. (1998). Liquid limit and the temperature sensitivity of clays. Engineering Geology, 49(2), 95–109. doi: 10.1016/s0013-7952(97)00077-x

Joel, M., & Joseph, L. (2015). Effect of compactive effort on strength indices of laterite treated with calcium carbide waste. Global Journal of Engineering Research, 14(1), 47–57. doi: 10.4314/gjer.v14i1.6

Juhel, M. (2008). Safe, clean, and affordable...transport for development : the World Bank Group's transport business strategy for 2008-2012. Retrieved from https://documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/440361468175472897/safe-clean-and-affordable-transport-for-development-the-world-bank-groups-transport-business-strategy-for-2008-2012

Jung, C., & Bobet, A. (2008). Post-construction evaluation of lime-treated soils. doi: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jtrp/319/

Karatai, T. R., Kaluli, J. W., Kabubo, C., & Thiong’o, G. (2017). Soil Stabilization Using Rice Husk Ash and Natural Lime as an Alternative to Cutting and Filling in Road Construction. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 143(5).

Kumar, B., & Puri, N. (2013). Stabilization of weak pavement subgrades using cement kiln dust. International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology, 4(1), 26–37.

Kumar, S. P. (2012). Silica and Calcium effect on Geotechnical Properties of Expansive soil Extracted from Rice Husk Ash and Lime. Retrieved from http://ipcbee.com/vol32/021-ICESE2012-D10034.pdf

Mejía de Gutiérrez, R., Torres, J., Vizcayno, C., & Castello, R. (2008). Influence of the calcination temperature of kaolin on the mechanical properties of mortars and concretes containing metakaolin. Clay minerals, 43(2), 177–183. doi: 10.1180/claymin.2008.043.2.02

Mubarak, Y., Al-Swalkah, A., & Sweis, F. (2011). The Effect of Alkaline Additives on the Operating Conditions of Kaolinitic Polymerization. Jordan Journal of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, 5(5).

Muhammad, N., Namdar, A., & Zakaria, I. (2011). Improving peat engineering properties by natural mineral mixture. International Journal of Civil Engineering and Geo-environment, 2, 23–27.

Negi, A., Faizan, M., Siddharth, D., & Singh, R. (2013). Soil stabilization using lime. International Journal of Innovative Research in Science, Engineering and Technology, 2(2), 448–453.

Nigeria General Specification. (1997). Testing for the Selection of Soil for Roads and Bridges. Abuja: Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

O’Neill, P., & Greening, P. (2010). The benefits from increased transport research capacity in low-income countries. Retrieevd from https://trid.trb.org/view/1298727

Ojuri, O. O., Adavi, A. A., & Oluwatuyi, O. E. (2017). Geotechnical and environmental evaluation of lime–cement stabilized soil–mine tailing mixtures for highway construction. Transportation Geotechnics, 10, 1–12. doi: 10.1016/j.trgeo.2016.10.001

Okonkwo, U. N. (2009). Effects of Compaction Delay on the Properties of Cement-Bound Lateritic Soils. Nigerian Journal of Technology, 28(2), 5-12.

Oluremi, J. R. (2015). Evaluation of waste wood ash treated lateritic soil for use in municipal solid waste containment application. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University.

Onyelowe, K. C. (2017). Nanostructured Waste Paper AshStabilization of Lateritic Soils forPavement Base ConstructionPurposes. Electronic Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, 22(9), 3633–3647.

Onyelowe, K., & Duc, B. (2020). Durability of nanostructured biomasses ash (NBA) stabilized expansive soils for pavement foundation. International Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, 14(3), 254–263. doi: 10.1080/19386362.2017.1422909

Onyelowe, K., Van, D., Igboayaka, C., Orji, F., & Ugwuanyi, H. (2019). Rheology of mechanical properties of soft soil and stabilization protocols in the developing countries-Nigeria. Materials Science for Energy Technologies, 2(1), 8–14. doi: 10.1016/j.mset.2018.10.001

Oriola, F., & Moses, G. (2010). Groundnut Shell Ash Stabilization ofBlack Cotton Soil. Electronic Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, 15(1), 415–428.

Osinubi, K., Yohanna P., Eberemu A. (2015). Cement modification of tropical black clay using iron ore tailings as admixture. Transportation Geotechnics, 5, 35–49. doi: 10.1016/j.trgeo.2015.10.001

Oyediran, I. A., & Williams, T. O. (2010). Geotechnical properties of some banded gneiss derived lateritic soils from Ibadan, Southwestern Nigeria. Journal of Science Research, 9(2), 62–68.

Pereira, R. S., Emmert, F., Miguel, E. P., & Gatto, A. (2018). Soil stabilization with lime for the construction of forest roads. Floresta e Ambiente, 25(2). doi: 10.1590/2179-8087.007715

Phani Kumar, B., & Sharma, R. (2004). Effect of fly ash on engineering properties of expansive soils. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, 130(7), 764–767.

Portelinha, F., Lima, D. , Fontes, M., & Carvalho, C. (2012). Modification of a Lateritic Soil with Lime and Cement: An Economical Alternative for Flexible Pavement Layers. Journal of Soil and Rock, 35(1), 51–63.

Provis, J. L., & van Deventer, J. S. J. (Eds.). (2014). Alkali Activated Materials. RILEM State-of-the-Art Reports. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-7672-2

Raj S., S., Sharma, A. K., & Anand, K. B. (2018). Performance appraisal of coal ash stabilized rammed earth. Journal of Building Engineering, 18, 51–57. doi: 10.1016/j.jobe.2018.03.001

Ramezanianpour, A. A., & Bahrami Jovein, H. (2012). Influence of metakaolin as supplementary cementing material on strength and durability of concretes. Construction and Building Materials, 30, 470–479. doi: 10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2011.12.050

Umar, S. Y., Elinwa, A. U. and Matawal, D. S. (2015). Hydraulic Conductivity of Compacted Lateritic Soil Partially Replaced with Metakaolin. Journal of Environment and Earth Science, 5(4), 53-64.

Wong, L. S., Hashim, R., & Ali, F. (2013). Improved strength and reduced permeability of stabilized peat: Focus on application of kaolin as a pozzolanic additive. Construction and Building Materials, 40, 783–792. doi: 10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2012.11.065

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Ibrahim Ikara Abdulkarim, Sa'eed Yusuf Umara, Abbagana Muhammed, Suleiman Arafat Yero

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.