Engineering properties of fibrous peats

G. Mesri, M. Ajlouni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This state-of-the-art paper presents an interpretation of the permeability, compressibility, and shear strength of fibrous peats using data from laboratory tests on undisturbed block samples of two fibrous peats, as well as extensive laboratory and field data from the literature on fibrous peat deposits. Engineering properties of fibrous peats are significantly different from those of most inorganic soils. However, the same fundamental mechanisms and factors determine behavior of both inorganic soils and fibrous peats. Fibrous peat deposits possess very high initial permeability, typically 1,000 times the initial permeability of soft clay and silt deposits. Upon compression, the permeability of fibrous peats decreases dramatically, with a ratio of permeability change index to in situ void ratio equal to 0.25, as compared to 0.50 for soft clay and silt deposits. Fibrous peats display extreme compressibility to the increase in effective vertical stress, with compression index values right after preconsolidation pressure 5 to 20 times the corresponding compressibility of typical soft clay and silt deposits. Among geotechnical materials, fibrous peats display the highest ratios of secondary compression index to compression index, in the range of 0.05 to 0.07. The values of coefficient of earth pressure at rest for normally consolidated young fibrous peat deposits are in the range of 0.30 to 0.35, as compared to 0.45 to 0.65 for inorganic soils. The values of friction angle from triaxial compression tests for fibrous peats are in the range of 40 to 60°, as compared to less than 35° for soft clay and silt compositions. For fibrous peats, the ratios of undrained shear strength in compression to preconsolidation pressure are usually in the range of 0.50 to 0.75, as compared to 0.32 for soft clay and silt deposits. For surficial fibrous peat deposits the ratio of vane shear strength to preconsolidation pressure is near 1.0, as compared to 0.12 to 0.35 for inorganic soft clay and silt deposits. For fibrous peats, the ratio of undrained Young's modulus to undrained shear strength is in the range of 20 to 80.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)850-866
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Compressibility
  • Peat
  • Permeability
  • Shear strength
  • Soil compression
  • Soil consolidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


Dive into the research topics of 'Engineering properties of fibrous peats'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this