Analysis of the water absorption test to assess the intrinsic permeability of earthen materials 

Antonin Fabbri, Lucile Soudani, Fionn McGregor, Jean-Claude Morel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)
    489 Downloads (Pure)


    The use and development of earth as a building material is notably constrained by its specific thermal and mechanical behaviours in relation to water, currently not considered in construction norms and technical guides. As the compressive strength decreases with the presence of water in pores, a good prediction of water content evolution within earthen walls is critical to ensure safety. The key parameter driving the flow of liquid water through the material is the intrinsic permeability. In this paper, a novel analysis of the water absorption test is developed, enabling thereby the identification of the intrinsic permeability. Through the comparison with permeability measurements made with an oedometer at a variable hydraulic load for samples with different dry densities, this new method could be validated. This work gives therefore the opportunity to use simple standard absorption tests to assess the intrinsic permeability of earthen materials.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)154-162
    Number of pages9
    JournalConstruction and Building Materials
    Early online date12 Dec 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019

    Bibliographical note

    NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Construction and Building Materials. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Construction and Building Materials, [199], (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2018.12.014

    © 2018, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Compressed earth block
    • Earthen construction materials
    • Intrinsic permeability
    • Rammed earth
    • Rising damps

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Civil and Structural Engineering
    • Building and Construction
    • Materials Science(all)


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