Cob is an earthen building material comprised of sand, clay, straw, and water used for millennia to construct dwellings. Although cob construction largely died out during the nineteenth century, it is experiencing a revival in England and the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Little scientific research has investigated the engineering properties of cob, knowledge of which is important for modern-day design practices and code requirements. Researchers at Oregon State University investigated six different Oregon cob mixtures using a series of standard soils and concrete tests adapted for this material. The objectives were to characterize the constituents, to establish estimates for the magnitude of, and degree of variability in, the mixture properties, and to develop correlations between the engineering properties and mixture composition. Results indicated low to moderate variation in basic mixture properties (i.e., unit weight, moisture content, and sand equivalent), moderate variation in strength properties, and high variation in the elastic modulus. Several reasonable correlations were found between shrinkage, compressive strength, elastic modulus, and sand equivalent and between flexural strength and fiber tensile strength.

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