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Proceedings
ARICE 2016
Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 35
Comparative Study of Termitaria and Parent Soil
P. M. Anjaly, B. Gopika, Pranav Malol,
V. Vijai Krishnan
B Tech Students, Department of Civil Engineering
Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology,
Government Engineering College, Kottayam, Kerala
e-mail: vijaikrishnanv@gmail.com
Mobile: +91 8943902890
T.Sini
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology,
Government Engineering College, Kottayam, Kerala
e-mail: sinit@rit.ac.in
Mobile: +91 9895584298
Abstract— Insects use soil for their dwellings and they
stabilize the soil. Ancient Indian texts on engineering mention the
use of termitaria soil for mud plastering, mud flooring, clay idols
etc. Termites use soil as its food and the digested soil had
properties significantly different from that of parent soil. On
drying, the digested soil becomes as hard as rock and its strength
increases with time. Termitaria can have a size of 4metres at base
and height upto 9metres. On a relative scale a man-made
pyramid can have a height upto 4 km. Termitaria soil and its
parent soil are collected from three different districts in Kerala.
Geo-technical properties such as specific gravity, Atterberg's
limits, shear strength, unconfined compressive strength,
consolidation properties, sieve analysis, California Bearing
Ratio(CBR), permeability, optimum moisture content (OMC)
and maximum dry density of termitaria are found to be
significantly different from the respective parent soil. Termite
soil is also found to be suitable for use as mortar for joint filling
and plastering. Termite soil bricks of size 190mm x 90mm x
90mm are made and its compressive strength was comparable
with conventionally used burnt bricks available in market. This
study will be innovative to evolve new, economic and eco-friendly
methods of soil stabilization to use in pavement sub-grade and as
a building material or component for low cost mud construction.
Keywords—Geotechnical properties, termitaria soil, parent soil,
termite mud brick, plastering
I. INTRODUCTION
Termites, wasps and earthworms can be considered as ‘soil
engineers’ because of their effects on soil properties [1].
Termites use adjacent soil grains for construction of ant-hill.
These particles are coated with sticky rapidly hardening
material secretions from mouth or rectum [2]. On drying the
material becomes hard and its strength will increase with time.
Termitaria are very strong and need sharp tools to destroy [3].
The termitaria which are huge mounds built by termites allow
them to have a great degree of control over the temperature and
humidity of the environment in which they live. Lignin of the
cementing material is found to be the secret of strength of ant-
hills, which provide adhesive property to soil [4].
In the construction industry, mud is a semi-fluid material
that can be used to coat, seal, or adheres materials. Important
asset of mud building is that, it allows moisture to breathe
through the walls. They retain heat during the day and let it out
at night, which greatly reduces the need for air conditioning
and heating helping in better temperature control. Mud and
rammed Earth houses are also durable and resistant to
fire[5][6]. One of the most obvious benefits of building with
mud, from an environmental perspective, is that, it imposes no
foreign substances on the earth, and if the structure is ever
destroyed, no inorganic or unnatural material goes into the
ground. One way to solve scarcity and high cost of
conventional building materials such as burnt bricks, cement
and steel, is to switch to mud. Instead of conventional soil used
to prepare mud, use of termitaria soil will provide additional
strength and features. Bricks and mortar can be made out of
termitaria soils and it can be also used for plastering the walls.
The soil is mixed with water and reinforcing materials such
as straw and even cement, if required, to improve durability
and then pressed into wooden forms and allowed to set. The
forms are removed and the bricks are set aside to dry for up to
seven days or twenty eight days, until it becomes fully hard and
water resistant. Termitaria soil plasters are most suitable for
interior surfaces, and provide additional thermal mass to
interior spaces to help improve the energy performance. Mud
plasters can be used as an exterior finish, but may require
annual resurfacing. Such walls naturally absorbs excess
moisture in the air, helping air to feel more comfortable in
summer, while its high thermal mass creates a battery heat (or
cooling) storage that helps to maintain constant air temperature.
This study is centered on ascertaining whether there is
significant difference in geotechnical and chemical properties
between termite soil and its surrounding parent soil. This study
also aims to identify a sustainable, low cost, locally available,
simple, reliable, acceptable, eco-friendly and household level
point of use of termitaria soil as a brick, mortar and in
plastering the walls.
II. MATERIALS AND METHODS
A. Termitaria and Parent Soil
Termitaria soil and its corresponding parent soil were
collected from three different districts of Kerala namely
Wayanad, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta. From each location
two samples were taken, one is termitaria soil and other is its
parent soil. Parent soil was collected 5metres away from
termitaria. Samples were safely kept in an air and water tight
plastic carry bag to retain natural moisture content and each
sample was labeled. Parent soil from Wayanad, Alappuzha and
Pathanamthitta was labeled as S1, S2 and S3 respectively and
termitaria soil as S1A, S2A and S3A. From each site 25kg of
Proceedings
ARICE 2016
Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 36
TABLE I. SPECIFIC GRAVITY OF PARENT AND TERMITARIA
SOIL
Location Parent soil Termitaria Soil
Wayanad 2.56 2.63
Alappuzha 2.63 2.78
Pathanamthitta 2.56 2.67
TABLE II. RESULT OF SIEVE ANALYSIS
Sieve
opening
(mm)
Percentage Finer ( % )
S1 S1A S2 S2A S3 S3A
4.75 99.2 100 97.1 100 99 100
2.36 98.3 100 91.7 100 98.2 100
1.18 85.7 98.563 75.9 99.5 96 99.7
0.600 75.5 92.655 62.7 91 91.8 96.5
0.425 68.6 85.138 47.9 85.6 82.8 79.6
0.300 60.151 72.135 40.8 70 64 65.1
0.150 53.23 61.464 18.6 34.8 17.5 31.8
0.075 36.37 40.204 8.1 31.5 7.3 27.7
Pan 0 0 0 0 0 0
termitaria and parent soil samples were collected [6]. But from
Wayanad, in addition to that required for determining
geotechnical properties, 25kg more termitaria soil was
collected to prepare and test termite mud bricks and mortar.
Natural moisture content of all samples were determined
and for all other laboratory tests samples were oven dried in a
hot air oven before carrying out the test. Tests carried out for
analyzing engineering and index properties of soil samples
include specific gravity test, sieve analysis, tests for
determination of Atterberg limits, permeability test,
compaction test, shear test and California bearing ratio (CBR)
test. UV spectrophotometer analysis was carried out to
determine the lignin content in soil samples in the ultraviolet
range 200 to 700nm [7][8]. For solids percentage
reflectance(R) is obtained from UV Spectroscopy. Percentage
absorbance was obtained by using the following relation.
% absorbance, A = log (1/R) (1)
B. Mud Brick
Polished wooden moulds of size 190mm x 90mm x 90mm
were made for casting the bricks. Soil was dried and pulverized
in a crusher and sieved through 2 mm sieve [9][10]. Three sets
of bricks were made, each with sand content 0%, 15% and 30%
by weight of termite soil. It was then mixed manually with
40% of water. For hand moulding, the mixed soil slurry was
forced into the mould in such a way that it fills all the corners
of the mould. Surplus slurry was removed by wooden strike
and consolidated sufficiently using rammers. Raw brick with
the mould was left on the ground under sun and mould was
lifted up after some time. When the bricks become sufficiently
dry and hard, they were placed in the drying shed and tested for
compressive strength in a compression testing machine after 28
days [8]. Conventional burnt brick usually available in the local
markets were also tested for comparison.
C. Mud Mortar
Mud mortar blocks were made by mixing termitaria soil, at
varying sand and water contents [11]. Sand content was varied
as 0%, 15% and 30% keeping the water content constant and
the experiment was repeated at varying water contents of 20%,
30% and 40% keeping percentage of sand constant. Mix was
then filled in a 7.06cm faced cube in three layers and each layer
was compacted 25 times. Side moulds were removed after 24
hours. Mortar cubes were tested after 28 days in compression
testing machine.
D. Mud Plaster
To compare aesthetics, cracking possibilities and other
durability aspects of termite mud mortar plaster with cement
plaster, one side of an experimental brick work was plastered
using 1:2 cement mortar 12mm thick and other side with
termite soil mixed with 30% sand at same thickness.
III. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
A. Specific Gravity
Specific gravity of Termite soil from the three locations
were slightly higher compared to its surrounding soils [2].
Termite soils contain more fine particles than the respective
parent soil, which may cause increase in specific gravity.
Specific gravity values of soil samples are shown in TABLE I.
B. Sieve Analysis
Wet sieve analysis was carried out and grain size
distribution (GSD) curve was plotted. GSD curve indicate that
termite soil contain more fine particles than surrounding soil.
Termite soil also contains more clay and silt fraction.
Percentage finer of samples are provided in TABLE II.
C. Atterberg Limits
1) Liquid limit: Liquid limit was determined by using
Casagrande’ apparatus and the water content for 25 number of
blows was found from flow curve. Significant increase in
liquid limit can be seen in termite soils from Alappuzha and
Pathanamthitta whereas it was slightly less for Wayanad
sample compared to parent soil [6]. Since liquid limit of
termite soils were less, compressibility will be also less
compared to its surrounding parent soil. Liquid limit of soil
samples are shown in Fig. 1.
2) Plastic limit: Plastic limit of both samples from
Alappuzha and parent sample from Pathanamthitta was
obtained as zero since it cannot be rolled into 3mm diameter
threads. This was due to relatively higher percentage of sand
or silt in the respective soils and lack of cohesion between the
soil particles, but the termite soil from Pathanamthitta shows
that plastic limit can be increased by the termites. Results of
Proceedings
ARICE 2016
Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 37
Fig. 1. Comparison of liquid limit
24
18.5
15.8
23
21
23.8
Wayanad Alappuzha Pathanamthitta
LiquidLimit(%)
Parent Soil
Termite Soil
Fig. 2. Comparison of plastic limit
20.61
0 0
15.98
0
14.29
Wayanad Alappuzha Pathanamthitta
PlasticLimit(%)
Parent Soil
Termite Soil
Fig. 3. Comparison of shrinkage limit
10.59
0
11.74
15.83
19.17
13.37
Wayanad Alappuzha Pathanamthitta
ShrinkageLimit(%)
Parent Soil
Termite Soil
TABLE III. COEFFICIENT OF PERMEABILITY IN MM/S
Location Parent soil Termitaria Soil
Wayanad 6.42 x 10-7
5.89 x 10-3
Alappuzha 3.93 x 10-5
4.26 x 10-3
Pathanamthitta 2.25 x 10-4
8.36 x 10-3
TABLE IV. MEAN VALUES OF MDD, OMC, CBR, CV AND COHESION
Sample
Label
MDD
(g/cm3
)
OMC
(%)
CBR
Cv
(mm2
/min)
Cohesion
(kg/cm2
)
S1 1.98 12.4 0.91 1.72 0.191
S1A 1.95 14.6 2.24 16.71 0.224
S2 2.1 8.6 2.34 53.95 0
S2A 1.88 11.25 2.92 9.11 0.161
S3 2.12 9.35 4.87 57.38 0
S3A 1.98 11.8 10.00 3.57 0.140
plastic limit test is shown in Fig. 2.
3) Shrinkage limit: Shrinkage limit of samples were
determined by dry pat method. Shrinkage limit for parent soil
from Alappuzha cannot be found by dry pat method as the soil
got powdered on oven drying due to lack of cohesion or high
silty content. But the same soil reworked by termite had
sufficient cohesion and shrinkage limit can be easily
determined. Shrinkage of parent and termite soil is presented
in Fig. 3. Shrinkage limit of termite reworked soils were found
to be considerably high compared to its parent soil which
implies that volume change occurs only if considerable
amount of water is added to the termite soil than that required
for its parent soil. In addition to this, shrinkage cracks will be
also less for termite modified soils in same conditions.
Plasticity indices were also found to be high for termite soil
and hence it behaves as plastic in a wider range of water
content, which increases its moulding property compared to
parent soils. Negative values of liquidity index obtained for
termitaria soil samples indicate that it is in a hard state. This
strengthens the view that termitaria are harder than its
surrounding soil.
D. Permeability
Variable head permeability test was conducted and the
results are given in TABLE III. The termite reworked soil were
found to be considerably permeable than its parent soil. Hence
termite soils have good drainage property. Coefficient of
permeability for clayey Wayanad soil was increased
significantly, which will be a great advantage for easy drainage
of water and to avoid water logging. The results indicate that
termites can convert soil to a semi-pervious type.
E. Compaction test
Compaction test was carried out to determine maximum
dry density (MDD) and optimum moisture content (OMC) of
each sample. This value of optimum moisture content was used
to prepare samples for CBR tests. Maximum dry density of
termite soil was found to be slightly less than that of its
surrounding soil. This may be due to relatively high plasticity
and high percentage of fines in the termite soil. This also
increases the optimum water content at which maximum dry
density is attained. MDD and OMC values of the samples are
presented in TABLE IV.
F. California Bearing Ratio test
This test was conducted for evaluating the suitability of the
soil as a subgrade for pavements. Loads corresponding to
penetrations of 2.5 and 5mm were determined for calculating
CBR value of the soil, which is shown in TABLE IV. CBR
values of termite reworked soils were greater than that
compared to its surrounding soil. Higher CBR value and
favourable permeability for good drainage will enable its use as
soil subgrade for pavements [12]. Variations in CBR value
range from about 25% to 50%.
G. Consolidation test
Consolidation characteristics of soil samples were
determined to access the magnitude and rate of settlement.
Coefficient of consolidation (Cv) was calculated by log-fitting
method and the results obtained are presented in TABLE IV.
Coefficient of consolidation for clayey soil from Wayanad
was less for parent soil whereas it is higher for other locations,
which means that for clayey termite soil, consolidation rate was
high and for sandy or silty soil, consolidation was significantly
Proceedings
ARICE 2016
Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 38
Fig. 4. Percentage UV absorbance of soil samples
0.48
0.68 0.62
1.204
0.78
0.68
Wayanad Alappuzha Pathanamthitta
%UVabsorbance
Parent
Termite
Fig. 5. Variation of compressive strength with sand and water content
0
1
2
3
4
5
15 25 35 45
CompressiveStrength(N/mm2)
Water content (%)
0%
sand
15%
sand
30%
sand
less than its parent soil.
H. Cohesion
It is an important parameter that determines the failure of
soil. Cohesive strength of termite soil was high due to the
presence of lignin. For silty or sandy parent soil samples from
Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts, significant cohesion
can be observed in its termite soils [6].
I. Determination of lignin by UV-Spectroscopy
UV absorbance value for termite soils were observed to be
higher, which means that lignin content was more in termite
soil compared to parent soil and this increased lignin content
might be the secret behind the modification of properties of
soil. Percentage UV absorbance value of soil samples are
shown in Fig. 4.
J. Compressive strength test of termite mud mortar cubes
Average compressive strength after 28 days was calculated
and the results were plotted as shown in Fig. 5.
Compressive strength of mortar cube made of termite soil
decreased with increase in both water and sand content. At
30% sand content compressive strength for ordinary soils is
usually 1 N/mm2
which is much less compared to termite
mortar. Hence termite mud mortar can be used in less
important works.
K. Compressive strength test on bricks
Compressive strength of sun dried termite mud brick after
28 days and conventionally used burnt bricks are presented in
TABLE V. Compressive strength of termite mud bricks were
comparable with that of conventional burnt bricks commonly
available in markets. Strength of termite brick goes on
decreasing as the sand content is increased. From the results, it
is evident that, even sun dried bricks can be used in
unimportant walls such as partition wall etc.
L. Plastering
12 mm thick cement plastering was applied to one side of
an experimental brick work and on other side termite mud
plaster was applied to same thickness. Termite mud plaster was
made by adding 30% sand and water only, to termite soil from
Wayanad. But after few hours of plastering, the plastered
surface began to crack on sun drying. Hence the plastering was
repeated with termite soil by adding about 15% of cement.
Cracking was considerably reduced after adding cement and it
provided a smooth and hard finished surface.
IV. CONCLUSION
Engineering and index properties of termite and parent soils
from three different locations of Kerala state were studied in
detail. Experiments were also conducted to determine the
applicability of termite soil in subgrade pavements and in low
cost mud construction. The outcomes revealed the following:
 Engineering and index properties of the soil were
modified by the termites and the properties were
dependent on the type of soil from which termitaria is
made.
 Specific gravity of termite soil was higher than its
surrounding soil due to more fine particles.
 Shrinkage limit of termite soils were found to be
significantly high, which indicates that more water is
required for termitaria soil to cause volume change.
 Liquidity index of the termite soils confirms that they
were harder than surrounding soils.
 Cohesive strength was more for termite soil due to the
increased content of lignin.
 Permeability and CBR value indicate that the termite
soils are suitable for subgrade in pavements due to
good drainage property and strength.
 Compressive strength of sun dried termite mud bricks
are even comparable with conventional burnt bricks
so that it can be used in less important walls such as
TABLE V. AVERAGE COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH VARIATION OF
TERMITE BRICK AND CONVENTIONAL BURNT BRICK
Brick type
Sand
Content
(%)
Average
Compressive
strength
(N/mm2
)
Unit
Weight
(kg/m3
)
Sun-dried
Termite Brick
0 4.88 1907
15 3.77 1917
30 2.31 1941
Conventional Burnt Brick 4.56 1792
Proceedings
ARICE 2016
Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 39
partition wall, non-load bearing walls and as a
building block for small mud huts.
 Compressive strength of termite mud mortar cube
decrease with increase in water and sand content.
 Termite mud mortar with 15% of cement by weight of
the soil can be used for plastering, especially for
interior walls so that it is not exposed to severe
conditions which may lead to durability issues such as
cracking and erosion.
 Use of termite soil in less important construction can
reduce overall construction cost, pollution and can
produce a favourable environment inside the room by
maintaining the temperature.
Therefore it is evident from all the parameters studied that
the properties of termite soils are different and can be
considered as a technique of natural stabilization of soil.
REFERENCES
[1] Ayininuola. G.M., “Termite Social Insect Impact on Soil Geotechnical
Properties,” IOSR Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (IOSR-
JMCE), Vol. 11, Issue 3, 2014, pp. 18-20.
[2] Abe O.E. and Oladapo S.A, “Investigation of the Index Properties of
Lateritic Soil Reworked By Termite for Road Construction”,
International Journal of Engineering Research & Technology (IJERT),
Vol. 3 Issue 4, 2014, pp. 1032-1034.
[3] Dr.A.S.Nene and Y.D. Parihar, “Natural Stabilization of Soils With
Special Reference to Entomological Considerations,” Second
International Conference on Soft Soil Engineering,China, 1996.
[4] Dr.A.S.Nene and Y.D. Parihar, “Natural Stabilization of Expansive
Soils,” Indian Geotechnical Conference, Kolkata, Vol.1 , 1992, pp.
207-209.
[5] Ilse L. Ackerman, Wenceslau G. Teixeira, Susan J. Riha, Johannes
Lehmann and Erick C.M. Fernandes, “The impact of mound-building
termites on surface soil properties in a secondary forest of Central
Amazonia,” Applied Soil Ecology,37, 2007, pp. 267 – 276.
[6] G.M. Ayininuola, “Variability in Geochemical Properties of Termitaria:
University of Ibadan Case Study,” The Pacific Journal of Science and
Technology, Vol. 10, No.1, 2009, pp. 567-572.
[7] A. Sluiter, B. Hames, R. Ruiz, C.Scarlata, J. Sluiter, D. Templeton and
D. Crocker, Determination of Structural Carbohydrates and Lignin in
Biomass-Laboratory Analytical Procedure, National Renewable Energy
Laboratory, 2012.
[8] Mihai Brebu and Cornelia Vasile, “Thermal Degradation of Lignin – A
Review, Cellulose Chem. Technol.,” 44 (9), 2010, pp. 353-363.
[9] IS 11650 : 1991, Guide For Manufacture of Common Burnt Clay
Building Bricks By Semi-Mechanized Process, Bureau of Indian
Standards.
[10] Alaa A. Shakir and Ali Ahmed Mohammed, “Manufacturing of Bricks
in the Past, in the Present and in the Future: A state of the Art Review,”
International Journal of Advances in Applied Sciences (IJAAS), Vol. 2,
No. 3, 2013, pp. 145 – 156.
[11] IS 13077 : 1991, Preparation ond Use of Mud Mortar In Masonry,
Bureau of Indian Standards.
[12] Paul O. Awoyera and Isaac I. Akinwumi, “Compressive Strength
Development for Cement, Lime and Termite-hill Stabilised Lateritic
Bricks,” The International Journal Of Engineering And Science
(IJES),Vol. 3, Issue 2, 2014, pp. 37-43 .

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Comparative Study of Termitaria and Parent Soil Properties

  • 1. Proceedings ARICE 2016 Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 35 Comparative Study of Termitaria and Parent Soil P. M. Anjaly, B. Gopika, Pranav Malol, V. Vijai Krishnan B Tech Students, Department of Civil Engineering Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, Government Engineering College, Kottayam, Kerala e-mail: vijaikrishnanv@gmail.com Mobile: +91 8943902890 T.Sini Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, Government Engineering College, Kottayam, Kerala e-mail: sinit@rit.ac.in Mobile: +91 9895584298 Abstract— Insects use soil for their dwellings and they stabilize the soil. Ancient Indian texts on engineering mention the use of termitaria soil for mud plastering, mud flooring, clay idols etc. Termites use soil as its food and the digested soil had properties significantly different from that of parent soil. On drying, the digested soil becomes as hard as rock and its strength increases with time. Termitaria can have a size of 4metres at base and height upto 9metres. On a relative scale a man-made pyramid can have a height upto 4 km. Termitaria soil and its parent soil are collected from three different districts in Kerala. Geo-technical properties such as specific gravity, Atterberg's limits, shear strength, unconfined compressive strength, consolidation properties, sieve analysis, California Bearing Ratio(CBR), permeability, optimum moisture content (OMC) and maximum dry density of termitaria are found to be significantly different from the respective parent soil. Termite soil is also found to be suitable for use as mortar for joint filling and plastering. Termite soil bricks of size 190mm x 90mm x 90mm are made and its compressive strength was comparable with conventionally used burnt bricks available in market. This study will be innovative to evolve new, economic and eco-friendly methods of soil stabilization to use in pavement sub-grade and as a building material or component for low cost mud construction. Keywords—Geotechnical properties, termitaria soil, parent soil, termite mud brick, plastering I. INTRODUCTION Termites, wasps and earthworms can be considered as ‘soil engineers’ because of their effects on soil properties [1]. Termites use adjacent soil grains for construction of ant-hill. These particles are coated with sticky rapidly hardening material secretions from mouth or rectum [2]. On drying the material becomes hard and its strength will increase with time. Termitaria are very strong and need sharp tools to destroy [3]. The termitaria which are huge mounds built by termites allow them to have a great degree of control over the temperature and humidity of the environment in which they live. Lignin of the cementing material is found to be the secret of strength of ant- hills, which provide adhesive property to soil [4]. In the construction industry, mud is a semi-fluid material that can be used to coat, seal, or adheres materials. Important asset of mud building is that, it allows moisture to breathe through the walls. They retain heat during the day and let it out at night, which greatly reduces the need for air conditioning and heating helping in better temperature control. Mud and rammed Earth houses are also durable and resistant to fire[5][6]. One of the most obvious benefits of building with mud, from an environmental perspective, is that, it imposes no foreign substances on the earth, and if the structure is ever destroyed, no inorganic or unnatural material goes into the ground. One way to solve scarcity and high cost of conventional building materials such as burnt bricks, cement and steel, is to switch to mud. Instead of conventional soil used to prepare mud, use of termitaria soil will provide additional strength and features. Bricks and mortar can be made out of termitaria soils and it can be also used for plastering the walls. The soil is mixed with water and reinforcing materials such as straw and even cement, if required, to improve durability and then pressed into wooden forms and allowed to set. The forms are removed and the bricks are set aside to dry for up to seven days or twenty eight days, until it becomes fully hard and water resistant. Termitaria soil plasters are most suitable for interior surfaces, and provide additional thermal mass to interior spaces to help improve the energy performance. Mud plasters can be used as an exterior finish, but may require annual resurfacing. Such walls naturally absorbs excess moisture in the air, helping air to feel more comfortable in summer, while its high thermal mass creates a battery heat (or cooling) storage that helps to maintain constant air temperature. This study is centered on ascertaining whether there is significant difference in geotechnical and chemical properties between termite soil and its surrounding parent soil. This study also aims to identify a sustainable, low cost, locally available, simple, reliable, acceptable, eco-friendly and household level point of use of termitaria soil as a brick, mortar and in plastering the walls. II. MATERIALS AND METHODS A. Termitaria and Parent Soil Termitaria soil and its corresponding parent soil were collected from three different districts of Kerala namely Wayanad, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta. From each location two samples were taken, one is termitaria soil and other is its parent soil. Parent soil was collected 5metres away from termitaria. Samples were safely kept in an air and water tight plastic carry bag to retain natural moisture content and each sample was labeled. Parent soil from Wayanad, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta was labeled as S1, S2 and S3 respectively and termitaria soil as S1A, S2A and S3A. From each site 25kg of
  • 2. Proceedings ARICE 2016 Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 36 TABLE I. SPECIFIC GRAVITY OF PARENT AND TERMITARIA SOIL Location Parent soil Termitaria Soil Wayanad 2.56 2.63 Alappuzha 2.63 2.78 Pathanamthitta 2.56 2.67 TABLE II. RESULT OF SIEVE ANALYSIS Sieve opening (mm) Percentage Finer ( % ) S1 S1A S2 S2A S3 S3A 4.75 99.2 100 97.1 100 99 100 2.36 98.3 100 91.7 100 98.2 100 1.18 85.7 98.563 75.9 99.5 96 99.7 0.600 75.5 92.655 62.7 91 91.8 96.5 0.425 68.6 85.138 47.9 85.6 82.8 79.6 0.300 60.151 72.135 40.8 70 64 65.1 0.150 53.23 61.464 18.6 34.8 17.5 31.8 0.075 36.37 40.204 8.1 31.5 7.3 27.7 Pan 0 0 0 0 0 0 termitaria and parent soil samples were collected [6]. But from Wayanad, in addition to that required for determining geotechnical properties, 25kg more termitaria soil was collected to prepare and test termite mud bricks and mortar. Natural moisture content of all samples were determined and for all other laboratory tests samples were oven dried in a hot air oven before carrying out the test. Tests carried out for analyzing engineering and index properties of soil samples include specific gravity test, sieve analysis, tests for determination of Atterberg limits, permeability test, compaction test, shear test and California bearing ratio (CBR) test. UV spectrophotometer analysis was carried out to determine the lignin content in soil samples in the ultraviolet range 200 to 700nm [7][8]. For solids percentage reflectance(R) is obtained from UV Spectroscopy. Percentage absorbance was obtained by using the following relation. % absorbance, A = log (1/R) (1) B. Mud Brick Polished wooden moulds of size 190mm x 90mm x 90mm were made for casting the bricks. Soil was dried and pulverized in a crusher and sieved through 2 mm sieve [9][10]. Three sets of bricks were made, each with sand content 0%, 15% and 30% by weight of termite soil. It was then mixed manually with 40% of water. For hand moulding, the mixed soil slurry was forced into the mould in such a way that it fills all the corners of the mould. Surplus slurry was removed by wooden strike and consolidated sufficiently using rammers. Raw brick with the mould was left on the ground under sun and mould was lifted up after some time. When the bricks become sufficiently dry and hard, they were placed in the drying shed and tested for compressive strength in a compression testing machine after 28 days [8]. Conventional burnt brick usually available in the local markets were also tested for comparison. C. Mud Mortar Mud mortar blocks were made by mixing termitaria soil, at varying sand and water contents [11]. Sand content was varied as 0%, 15% and 30% keeping the water content constant and the experiment was repeated at varying water contents of 20%, 30% and 40% keeping percentage of sand constant. Mix was then filled in a 7.06cm faced cube in three layers and each layer was compacted 25 times. Side moulds were removed after 24 hours. Mortar cubes were tested after 28 days in compression testing machine. D. Mud Plaster To compare aesthetics, cracking possibilities and other durability aspects of termite mud mortar plaster with cement plaster, one side of an experimental brick work was plastered using 1:2 cement mortar 12mm thick and other side with termite soil mixed with 30% sand at same thickness. III. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS A. Specific Gravity Specific gravity of Termite soil from the three locations were slightly higher compared to its surrounding soils [2]. Termite soils contain more fine particles than the respective parent soil, which may cause increase in specific gravity. Specific gravity values of soil samples are shown in TABLE I. B. Sieve Analysis Wet sieve analysis was carried out and grain size distribution (GSD) curve was plotted. GSD curve indicate that termite soil contain more fine particles than surrounding soil. Termite soil also contains more clay and silt fraction. Percentage finer of samples are provided in TABLE II. C. Atterberg Limits 1) Liquid limit: Liquid limit was determined by using Casagrande’ apparatus and the water content for 25 number of blows was found from flow curve. Significant increase in liquid limit can be seen in termite soils from Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta whereas it was slightly less for Wayanad sample compared to parent soil [6]. Since liquid limit of termite soils were less, compressibility will be also less compared to its surrounding parent soil. Liquid limit of soil samples are shown in Fig. 1. 2) Plastic limit: Plastic limit of both samples from Alappuzha and parent sample from Pathanamthitta was obtained as zero since it cannot be rolled into 3mm diameter threads. This was due to relatively higher percentage of sand or silt in the respective soils and lack of cohesion between the soil particles, but the termite soil from Pathanamthitta shows that plastic limit can be increased by the termites. Results of
  • 3. Proceedings ARICE 2016 Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 37 Fig. 1. Comparison of liquid limit 24 18.5 15.8 23 21 23.8 Wayanad Alappuzha Pathanamthitta LiquidLimit(%) Parent Soil Termite Soil Fig. 2. Comparison of plastic limit 20.61 0 0 15.98 0 14.29 Wayanad Alappuzha Pathanamthitta PlasticLimit(%) Parent Soil Termite Soil Fig. 3. Comparison of shrinkage limit 10.59 0 11.74 15.83 19.17 13.37 Wayanad Alappuzha Pathanamthitta ShrinkageLimit(%) Parent Soil Termite Soil TABLE III. COEFFICIENT OF PERMEABILITY IN MM/S Location Parent soil Termitaria Soil Wayanad 6.42 x 10-7 5.89 x 10-3 Alappuzha 3.93 x 10-5 4.26 x 10-3 Pathanamthitta 2.25 x 10-4 8.36 x 10-3 TABLE IV. MEAN VALUES OF MDD, OMC, CBR, CV AND COHESION Sample Label MDD (g/cm3 ) OMC (%) CBR Cv (mm2 /min) Cohesion (kg/cm2 ) S1 1.98 12.4 0.91 1.72 0.191 S1A 1.95 14.6 2.24 16.71 0.224 S2 2.1 8.6 2.34 53.95 0 S2A 1.88 11.25 2.92 9.11 0.161 S3 2.12 9.35 4.87 57.38 0 S3A 1.98 11.8 10.00 3.57 0.140 plastic limit test is shown in Fig. 2. 3) Shrinkage limit: Shrinkage limit of samples were determined by dry pat method. Shrinkage limit for parent soil from Alappuzha cannot be found by dry pat method as the soil got powdered on oven drying due to lack of cohesion or high silty content. But the same soil reworked by termite had sufficient cohesion and shrinkage limit can be easily determined. Shrinkage of parent and termite soil is presented in Fig. 3. Shrinkage limit of termite reworked soils were found to be considerably high compared to its parent soil which implies that volume change occurs only if considerable amount of water is added to the termite soil than that required for its parent soil. In addition to this, shrinkage cracks will be also less for termite modified soils in same conditions. Plasticity indices were also found to be high for termite soil and hence it behaves as plastic in a wider range of water content, which increases its moulding property compared to parent soils. Negative values of liquidity index obtained for termitaria soil samples indicate that it is in a hard state. This strengthens the view that termitaria are harder than its surrounding soil. D. Permeability Variable head permeability test was conducted and the results are given in TABLE III. The termite reworked soil were found to be considerably permeable than its parent soil. Hence termite soils have good drainage property. Coefficient of permeability for clayey Wayanad soil was increased significantly, which will be a great advantage for easy drainage of water and to avoid water logging. The results indicate that termites can convert soil to a semi-pervious type. E. Compaction test Compaction test was carried out to determine maximum dry density (MDD) and optimum moisture content (OMC) of each sample. This value of optimum moisture content was used to prepare samples for CBR tests. Maximum dry density of termite soil was found to be slightly less than that of its surrounding soil. This may be due to relatively high plasticity and high percentage of fines in the termite soil. This also increases the optimum water content at which maximum dry density is attained. MDD and OMC values of the samples are presented in TABLE IV. F. California Bearing Ratio test This test was conducted for evaluating the suitability of the soil as a subgrade for pavements. Loads corresponding to penetrations of 2.5 and 5mm were determined for calculating CBR value of the soil, which is shown in TABLE IV. CBR values of termite reworked soils were greater than that compared to its surrounding soil. Higher CBR value and favourable permeability for good drainage will enable its use as soil subgrade for pavements [12]. Variations in CBR value range from about 25% to 50%. G. Consolidation test Consolidation characteristics of soil samples were determined to access the magnitude and rate of settlement. Coefficient of consolidation (Cv) was calculated by log-fitting method and the results obtained are presented in TABLE IV. Coefficient of consolidation for clayey soil from Wayanad was less for parent soil whereas it is higher for other locations, which means that for clayey termite soil, consolidation rate was high and for sandy or silty soil, consolidation was significantly
  • 4. Proceedings ARICE 2016 Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 38 Fig. 4. Percentage UV absorbance of soil samples 0.48 0.68 0.62 1.204 0.78 0.68 Wayanad Alappuzha Pathanamthitta %UVabsorbance Parent Termite Fig. 5. Variation of compressive strength with sand and water content 0 1 2 3 4 5 15 25 35 45 CompressiveStrength(N/mm2) Water content (%) 0% sand 15% sand 30% sand less than its parent soil. H. Cohesion It is an important parameter that determines the failure of soil. Cohesive strength of termite soil was high due to the presence of lignin. For silty or sandy parent soil samples from Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts, significant cohesion can be observed in its termite soils [6]. I. Determination of lignin by UV-Spectroscopy UV absorbance value for termite soils were observed to be higher, which means that lignin content was more in termite soil compared to parent soil and this increased lignin content might be the secret behind the modification of properties of soil. Percentage UV absorbance value of soil samples are shown in Fig. 4. J. Compressive strength test of termite mud mortar cubes Average compressive strength after 28 days was calculated and the results were plotted as shown in Fig. 5. Compressive strength of mortar cube made of termite soil decreased with increase in both water and sand content. At 30% sand content compressive strength for ordinary soils is usually 1 N/mm2 which is much less compared to termite mortar. Hence termite mud mortar can be used in less important works. K. Compressive strength test on bricks Compressive strength of sun dried termite mud brick after 28 days and conventionally used burnt bricks are presented in TABLE V. Compressive strength of termite mud bricks were comparable with that of conventional burnt bricks commonly available in markets. Strength of termite brick goes on decreasing as the sand content is increased. From the results, it is evident that, even sun dried bricks can be used in unimportant walls such as partition wall etc. L. Plastering 12 mm thick cement plastering was applied to one side of an experimental brick work and on other side termite mud plaster was applied to same thickness. Termite mud plaster was made by adding 30% sand and water only, to termite soil from Wayanad. But after few hours of plastering, the plastered surface began to crack on sun drying. Hence the plastering was repeated with termite soil by adding about 15% of cement. Cracking was considerably reduced after adding cement and it provided a smooth and hard finished surface. IV. CONCLUSION Engineering and index properties of termite and parent soils from three different locations of Kerala state were studied in detail. Experiments were also conducted to determine the applicability of termite soil in subgrade pavements and in low cost mud construction. The outcomes revealed the following:  Engineering and index properties of the soil were modified by the termites and the properties were dependent on the type of soil from which termitaria is made.  Specific gravity of termite soil was higher than its surrounding soil due to more fine particles.  Shrinkage limit of termite soils were found to be significantly high, which indicates that more water is required for termitaria soil to cause volume change.  Liquidity index of the termite soils confirms that they were harder than surrounding soils.  Cohesive strength was more for termite soil due to the increased content of lignin.  Permeability and CBR value indicate that the termite soils are suitable for subgrade in pavements due to good drainage property and strength.  Compressive strength of sun dried termite mud bricks are even comparable with conventional burnt bricks so that it can be used in less important walls such as TABLE V. AVERAGE COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH VARIATION OF TERMITE BRICK AND CONVENTIONAL BURNT BRICK Brick type Sand Content (%) Average Compressive strength (N/mm2 ) Unit Weight (kg/m3 ) Sun-dried Termite Brick 0 4.88 1907 15 3.77 1917 30 2.31 1941 Conventional Burnt Brick 4.56 1792
  • 5. Proceedings ARICE 2016 Department of Civil Engineering, MITS 39 partition wall, non-load bearing walls and as a building block for small mud huts.  Compressive strength of termite mud mortar cube decrease with increase in water and sand content.  Termite mud mortar with 15% of cement by weight of the soil can be used for plastering, especially for interior walls so that it is not exposed to severe conditions which may lead to durability issues such as cracking and erosion.  Use of termite soil in less important construction can reduce overall construction cost, pollution and can produce a favourable environment inside the room by maintaining the temperature. Therefore it is evident from all the parameters studied that the properties of termite soils are different and can be considered as a technique of natural stabilization of soil. REFERENCES [1] Ayininuola. G.M., “Termite Social Insect Impact on Soil Geotechnical Properties,” IOSR Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (IOSR- JMCE), Vol. 11, Issue 3, 2014, pp. 18-20. [2] Abe O.E. and Oladapo S.A, “Investigation of the Index Properties of Lateritic Soil Reworked By Termite for Road Construction”, International Journal of Engineering Research & Technology (IJERT), Vol. 3 Issue 4, 2014, pp. 1032-1034. [3] Dr.A.S.Nene and Y.D. Parihar, “Natural Stabilization of Soils With Special Reference to Entomological Considerations,” Second International Conference on Soft Soil Engineering,China, 1996. [4] Dr.A.S.Nene and Y.D. Parihar, “Natural Stabilization of Expansive Soils,” Indian Geotechnical Conference, Kolkata, Vol.1 , 1992, pp. 207-209. [5] Ilse L. Ackerman, Wenceslau G. Teixeira, Susan J. Riha, Johannes Lehmann and Erick C.M. Fernandes, “The impact of mound-building termites on surface soil properties in a secondary forest of Central Amazonia,” Applied Soil Ecology,37, 2007, pp. 267 – 276. [6] G.M. Ayininuola, “Variability in Geochemical Properties of Termitaria: University of Ibadan Case Study,” The Pacific Journal of Science and Technology, Vol. 10, No.1, 2009, pp. 567-572. [7] A. Sluiter, B. Hames, R. Ruiz, C.Scarlata, J. Sluiter, D. Templeton and D. Crocker, Determination of Structural Carbohydrates and Lignin in Biomass-Laboratory Analytical Procedure, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2012. [8] Mihai Brebu and Cornelia Vasile, “Thermal Degradation of Lignin – A Review, Cellulose Chem. Technol.,” 44 (9), 2010, pp. 353-363. [9] IS 11650 : 1991, Guide For Manufacture of Common Burnt Clay Building Bricks By Semi-Mechanized Process, Bureau of Indian Standards. [10] Alaa A. Shakir and Ali Ahmed Mohammed, “Manufacturing of Bricks in the Past, in the Present and in the Future: A state of the Art Review,” International Journal of Advances in Applied Sciences (IJAAS), Vol. 2, No. 3, 2013, pp. 145 – 156. [11] IS 13077 : 1991, Preparation ond Use of Mud Mortar In Masonry, Bureau of Indian Standards. [12] Paul O. Awoyera and Isaac I. Akinwumi, “Compressive Strength Development for Cement, Lime and Termite-hill Stabilised Lateritic Bricks,” The International Journal Of Engineering And Science (IJES),Vol. 3, Issue 2, 2014, pp. 37-43 .