The identification and treatment of poor durability Karoo dolerite base course aggregate-evidence from case studies

R. C. Leyland, M. Momayez, J. L. Van Rooy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Karoo Supergroup covers approximately 57% of South Africa's surface area and the sedimentary rocks therein generally do not yield acceptable pavement aggregates. The Karoo Dolerite Suite (intrusions) present in these sedimentary units have successfully been used as pavement aggregate sources, but numerous cases of premature pavement failure due to alleged rapid degradation of the dolerite have been reported. Durability tests are included in basic or mafic igneous rock aggregate specifications, but rapid pavement failures continue to occur. A study was recently undertaken to identify cases where degradation of Karoo dolerite was the cause of pavement failure. A secondary objective of the study was to determine if any observed degradation could have been identified using currently specified or alternative testing methods. Three such case study sites are presented in this article and the properties of their materials compared to those from five non-problematic dolerite materials. It is shown that the poor performance of the case study materials was likely due to the poor durability of the materials, manifesting as a reduction in resistance to abrasion and attrition. The identification of the observed poor durability could not have been performed accurately using only the currently specified test specifications. Alternative tests that allow an accurate differentiation to be made were, however, identified and, based on the results, tentative limits set. Additionally it was shown that modification of problematic Karoo dolerite base course materials, by applying lime at a rate less than the initial consumption of lime, can be successful in preventing further rapid pavement failures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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