Three Dimensional Numerical Simulation of Residential Building on Shrink-Swell Soils in Response to Climatic Conditions


Shrink-swell soils can cause distresses in buildings, and every year, the economic loss associated with this problem is huge. This paper presents a comprehensive system for simulating the soil-foundation-building system and its response to daily weather conditions. Weather data include rainfall, solar radiation, air temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed, all of which are readily available from a local weather station or the Internet. These data are used to determine simulation flux boundary conditions. Different methods are proposed to simulate different boundary conditions: bare soil, trees, and vegetation. A coupled hydro-mechanical stress analysis is used to simulate the volume change of shrink-swell soils due to both mechanical stress and water content variations. Coupled hydro-mechanical stress-jointed elements are used to simulate the interaction between the soil and the slab, and general shell elements are used to simulate structural behavior. All the models are combined into one finite element program to predict the entire system's behavior. This paper first described the theory for the simulations. A site in Arlington, Texas, is then selected to demonstrate the application of the proposed system. Simulation results are shown, and a comparison between measured and predicted movements for four footings in Arlington, Texas, over a 2-year period is presented. Finally, a three-dimensional simulation is made for a virtual residential building on shrink-swell soils to identify the influence of various factors.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Atmospheric humidity; Atmospheric temperature; Balloons; Boundary conditions; Buildings; Housing; Losses; Meteorology; Rain; Soils; Solar radiation; Stress analysis; Stresses; Wind; Air temperature; Coupled hydro mechanicals; Field tests; Residential building; Shell element; Unsaturated soil; Wind speed; Finite element method; Air temperature; Climate conditions; Foundation; Hydromechanics; Multistorey building; Numerical model; Residential location; Soil-structure interaction; Stress analysis; Structural response; Swell; Texas; United States; Coupled hydro-mechanical stress analysis; General shell elements; Jointed elements; Rainfall; Relative humidity; Residential building; Shrink-swell soils; Solar radiation; Unsaturated soils; Wind speed

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0363-9061; 1096-9853

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 2015