Deep Soil Mixing (DSM)

Deep soil mixing

The deep mixing (DM) method mixes in-situ soil with a hardening agent (cement, lime, slag, or other binders) at depths by augers. Deep mixing can be accomplished by a wet or dry method. The equipment for the wet method may have one to eight rotary hollow shafts with cutting tools and mixing blades above the tip. The binder slurry is introduced into the ground through each hollow shaft and exits from the nozzle while the shaft penetrates into the soil or is withdrawn. Some equipment has mixing blades rotating in opposite directions (i.e., double mixing) to improve the uniformity of the soil–binder mixture. The equipment for the dry method may have single or dual rotary shafts with cutting tools and mixing blades above the tip. The binder powder is introduced into the ground through each hollow shaft and the nozzle by air pressure.





















Deep soil mixing columns

Design principles 

The design procedure for deep mixing is similar to jet grouting columns design and also depends on the type of application. For foundation support, the following design procedure may be followed:

  1. Based on the geotechnical conditions, select the type of method (dry or wet method) and type of binder for deep mixing.
  2. Based on the geometry of the superstructure and the distribution and magnitude of loads, select the pattern of deep mixing (individual columns, blocks, walls, and grids).
  3. Based on the required ultimate bearing capacity of the foundation and the soil strength, determine the required column capacity if the area replacement ratio is assumed or the area replacement ratio if the column strength is assumed.
  4. Based on the column capacity requirement, determine the required minimum laboratory unconfined compressive strength of the stabilized soil considering the field to laboratory conversion factor and the scale factor.
  5. Determine the minimum column length.
  6. Determine the settlement of the column-reinforced foundation using the stress reduction method, the piled-raft method, or the column penetration method.
  7. Determine the degree of consolidation of the column-reinforced foundation.
  8. If columns are used to support embankments, stability analysis should be conducted. A numerical method is preferred, but a simplified limit equilibrium method may be used by limiting the column strength.
  9. Iterations may be needed if at least one of the calculations does not meet the project requirement.

Design and construction flowchart of Deep soil mixing method

Construction procedure

The basic DM procedure by the wet method is illustrated in Figure. This method includes:

  1. Position the auger at a desired location.
  2. Drill and drive the mixing shaft at a preset rate into the ground with rotation of the blades. There are two injection sequences of binder slurry: (a) binder slurry injected during the penetration and (b) binder slurry injected during the withdrawal. The injection outlet for the penetration injection method is located at the toe of the mixing blades while that for the withdrawal injection method is located at the top of the mixing blades.
  3. After reaching the desired depth, remain at the position and continue mixing binder slurry with soil for a certain time period to generate a uniform mix.
  4. Withdraw the mixing shaft gradually at a preset rate and continue mixing the binder slurry with soil (for some machines, the direction of the mixing blade rotation is reversed during the withdrawal).
  5. Complete the installation of the mixed column until the mixing shaft reaches the desired elevation (mostly at the ground surface but sometimes at a preset depth). The spoil soil should be excavated and removed during or after the installation of each column to minimize the interference with the next installation


Construction stages of deep soil mixing


Columns have been used for many applications in soft soils:

  1. support of superstructures, including buildings, walls, embankments
  2. waterfront and marine applications including quay walls, wharf structures, and breakwaters
  3. stabilization of slopes
  4. lateral support
  5. containment of water and pollutant
  6. liquefaction mitigation
  7. vibration reduction.

Deep mixed columns have also been used for roadway widening to support new embankments and mitigation of ground heave due to expansive soil. In these applications, DM columns are used to increase bearing capacity, reduce settlement, enhance slope stability, provide lateral support, contain water and pollutant movement, mitigate liquefaction, and reduce vibration.


Application of deep soil mixing 

Quality Control and Assurance

The typical quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) procedure for deep mixing is presented in Figure. It starts with the design or targeted strength of a stabilized soil. Laboratory mix design tests should be performed to determine the binder content to reach the targeted strength. Sometimes, field trial is implemented to verify the field strengths of test columns. During the installation, all the parameters for deep mixing should be well controlled, including binder content. After the installation, the quality of columns should be confirmed by sampling, coring, and in-situ testing. Field instrumentation and monitoring may be conducted for large and/or complicated projects. Quality control and quality assurance can be achieved by evaluating the installation records of the columns and the test results of laboratory and field verification tests. Each column installation record should include a chart-log with the construction information, such as date and time of execution, length of column, penetration/withdrawal rates of the mixing shaft, blade rotation rate, pressure and flow rate of pumped slurry or injected powder, and total slurry or powder consumption per column.