Residual soils are abundant in Peninsular Malaysia and feature prominently in various geotechnical works such as highway cut-slopes, urban developments, damsite excavations, etc. They are also used widely as construction fill materials for various purposes, eg. highway embankments, earthdams, fill platforms for housing, etc. A systematic and comprehensive study of the physico-chemical properties of several major residual soils in Peninsular Malaysia has been conducted over the past decade or so. This paper summarises and discusses the results of the study. Residual soil types investigated include granitic soils, basaltic soils, gabbroic soils, quartz-mica and graphitic schist soils, shale and the Old Alluvium. These soils underlie several major urban centres in Peninsular Malaysia, and are also often encountered in highway constructions. General properties of the various soil types are discussed, as well as inter-correlations among the various physical and chemical properties. Interesting correlations such as grain size gradation versus compaction properties, fines content versus plasticities, pore fluids chemistry and clay mineralogy are discussed. The unique properties of the graphitic schist soils vis-a-vis construction problems associated with graphitic schist soils are also highlighted. The need to study in detail the physico-chemical properties of residual soils cannot be over-emphasised. In combination with clay mineralogy, the physico-chemical properties dictate the fundamental behaviours of the soils.


Residual soils are abundant in tropical countries like Malaysia where the tropical climate promotes intense chemical weathering of rocks and the development of thick weathering profiles. Thickness of the soil zone of the weathering profiles range from ~ 30 m – 50 m in granites, and ~ 10 m in the sedimentary or metamorphic rocks such as shales and schists. In view of their wide occurrences, residual soils feature prominently in various geotechnical or engineering construction works such as highway cut-slopes, urban developments, damsite excavations, etc.

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