Dynamic characterization of adobe in compression: the influence of fibre fraction in soil mixtures

Tiziano li Piani, Jaap Weerheijm, M. Peroni, L. Koene, G. Solomos, Lambertus J. Sluys

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Adobe is one of the most ancient forms of masonry. Adobe bricks are sundried mixtures of clay, silt, sand and natural fibres locally available joined together using mud mortar. Adobe structures are largely spread in areas of the world prone to earthquakes or involved in military conflicts. Unfortunately, almost no literature concerns the dynamic assessment of soil-based masonry components. From earlier research, it was derived that the mechanical behaviour of adobe in statics fits in the class of quasi brittle materials. Its resemblance with cementitious materials concerns the main failure modes and the constitutive models in compression. This study deals with the experimental characterization of adobe components response in dynamics. It is aimed to study and quantify the rate sensitivity of adobe material from bricks at a wide range of strain rates, from statics up to impact conditions. In particular, the influence of fiber reinforcement in the mixture on the mechanical behaviour of the material has been addressed. Adobe bricks are commonly mixed using organic content locally available in the field, from straw to chopped wood. Fibres are added to prevent shrinkage cracks during the air drying process. In modern materials such as concrete, inclusion of artificial fibres is originally meant to enhance the mechanical performance of the material, benefiting from the selective properties of reinforcement and binder. An experimental campaign was carried out in a collaboration between Delft University of Technology, Dutch Ministry of Defence, TNO and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. Two types of bricks were tested. They both had the same soil composition in terms of mineralogical family and soil elements proportions but only one was mixed using straw and wood. Cylindrical samples were subjected to compression tests at different rates of loadings in compression: low ( _ 1 = 3 10􀀀4 s􀀀1), intermediate ( _ 2 = 3 s􀀀1) and high ( _ 3 = 120 s􀀀1). High strain rate tests were performed using the split Hopkinson bar of the Elsa-HopLab (JRC). For each test, high resolution videos registered the failure process and force-displacement plots were recorded. Elaboration of results revealed clear trends in the dynamic material behaviour. Adobe, as concrete, is sensitive to the loading rate. The rate effects on the main properties of the material in strength and deformation are also analytically and numerically quantified. Rate sensitivity and failure mode are significantly influenced by the inclusion of fibers in the mixture. These effects are quantified, interpreted and compared with modern SFRC. This paper presents the experimental campaign and the obtained results. Moreover, physical interpretations for the observed trends are discussed. Finally, new formulations for the assessment of the dynamic increase factor of the compressive strength of adobe are proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 10th International Conference on Fracture Mechanics of Concrete and Concrete Structures
EditorsG. Pijaudier-Cabot, P. Grassl, C. La Borderie
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event10th International Conference on Fracture Mechanics of Concrete and Concrete Structures: FraMCoS-X - Bayonne, France
Duration: 24 Jun 201926 Jun 2019


Conference10th International Conference on Fracture Mechanics of Concrete and Concrete Structures
Abbreviated titleFraMCoS-X
Internet address


  • Adobe
  • dynamic
  • Hopkinson bar
  • rate
  • brick
  • fiber
  • soil
  • dynamic increase factor


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