Engineering with Heavily Cemented Soils in Las Vegas, Nevada


H. W. Olsen,

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Geo-Denver 2007: New Peaks in Geotechnics


American Society of Civil Engineers

First page number:


Last page number:



The material commonly known to engineers in Las Vegas, Nevada, as "caliche" results from cementation of sediments, both fine- and coarse-grained, calcium carbonate precipitated in soils where evaporation exceeds precipitation. For engineering purposes, caliche is defined as a rock-like material that occurs in soil deposits erratically in thickness, hardness, and lateral extent and it is therefore difficult to predict in terms of interference with below-grade construction. The greatest problem caliche creates is in its removal, which results in expense, construction delay, and potential vibration damage to adjacent improvements caused by some excavation methods. The presence of a substantial thickness of continuous caliche below a building site can provide an excellent bearing surface for conventional foundations which can support high loads where the alternative might be a more expensive foundation system. Caliche can cause damage to structures only in an indirect way such as differential settlement caused by foundations partially supported on caliche and partially on compressible soil. Seismic methods can be used to detect caliche non-intrusively. Delineation of thickness and lateral extent are more challenging.


Caliche; Cement; Engineering; Soil cement; Soils


Civil and Environmental Engineering | Civil Engineering | Construction Engineering and Management | Structural Engineering




Conference held: Denver, Colorado, United States, February 18-21, 2007


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