One of the most important factor, when you build anything is the material. Another important factor in civil engineering is cost. So, that the material should be economical. Soil or Earth is one of the cheaper material available nowadays.
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If you want to use soil as a construction material you should study about the properties of soil. The soil strength completely depends on internal friction between the soil particles. If you apply vertical force on soil (perpendicular to failure plane ) it will increase the shear strength of soil. If you consider the failure plane as inclined then vertical force partly acts normal and it increases the strength. Also, the vertical force acts parallel to the plane of soil and it increases the shear stress. If shear stress exceeds the shear strength it results in failure of the material. The steeper the angle of a failure plane, the more vertical force contributes to shear stress and less it adds to the shear strength.
If you build earthen structures below the ground, it will be surrounded by extra soil that can apply horizontal or confining pressure to the structure and it helps to balance out vertical force. This is the problem to build earthen structures above the ground. To avoid or overcome this problem we need a way to add confining pressure to the soil. Reinforced soil is the solution to this problem. Reinforced soil is a composite material of soil and reinforcement. This can achieve by reinforcing the soil with tension-resistant elements. The tension in the reinforcement will generate confining pressure in the soil. This pressure acts parallel to the failure plane and it increases the shear strength of soil. The structures constructed using reinforced soil called Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) structures.
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