Geotechnical Challenges with Malaysian Peat

Conference paper

Zainorabidin, Adnan and Wijeyesekera, D.Chitral 2007. Geotechnical Challenges with Malaysian Peat.
AuthorsZainorabidin, Adnan and Wijeyesekera, D.Chitral
TypeConference paper

Malaysian peat is a tropical peat (Andriesse, 1988). This peat has unique characteristics,
which makes it significantly different from other peat. In its natural state, this soil is normally dark
reddish brown to black in colour and consists of partly decomposed leaves, branches, twigs and tree
trunks with a low mineral content. These are formed through accumulation of disintegrated plant
remains, which have been preserved under conditions of incomplete aeration and high water content.
Hobbs (1986) stated that it was important to include and recognise the peat by not only its
morphology but also by its basic engineering properties. The “special” characteristics for this soil are
a high water content (>200%), high compressibility, high organic content (>75%), low shear strength
(5-20kPa) and low bearing capacity (<8 kN/m2). These geotechnical characteristics make any form of
construction on this soil very challenging in Malaysia (Zainorabidin and Bakar, 2003). This paper
presents an overview of previous research carried out on peat soils (Mutalib et al, 1991; Jarrett, 1997;
Bujang, 2004; Zainorabidin and Bakar, 2003). Edil (2003) demonstrated the variability of the peat
properties even within a single sample, leading to it being far from homogeneous, which is a prime
requirement in engineering soil mechanics. The compressibility of the individual peat particles
invalidates one of the prime assumptions of particle incompressibility adopted in soil mechanics This
paper also discusses the challenges that geotechnical engineers have faced in Malaysia when
designing and managing construction on this soil.

KeywordsMalaysian peat; engineering properties; construction challenges
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Deposited08 Jun 2010
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Zainorabidin, A., Wijeyesekera, D.C. (2007) ‘Geotechnical Challenges with Malaysian Peat’ Proceedings of the AC&T, pp.252-261.

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