Earthbag Training and Testing at Santa Clara University, CA

Engineering students at Santa Clara University are evaluating how to make rebar inserted into earthbag walls to be stronger.
Engineering students at Santa Clara University are evaluating how to make rebar inserted into earthbag walls to be stronger.

Patti Stouter of Build Simple, Inc. has been testing earthbags and writing technical reports for the last several years in an effort to improve strength of earthbag buildings in seismic areas. She asked me to forward the following announcement.

It looks like an engineering department near San Francisco will be completing needed tests of earthbag strength during 2018. If anyone wants to help build, they can learn construction also.

One of the weakest parts of earthbag built in risky areas is the lack of connection between a footing and the inserted rebar. Tests of wall shear strength show that inserting rebar bonds well with strong earthen fill. But can inserted rebar be bonded well to a footing to prevent wall racking? Students directed by an engineering professor known for practical hands on education will find out next spring.

Engineering students at Santa Clara University have been working with Patti Stouter for several months to plan for structural tests of contained earth (earthbag built with strong cohesive soil and reinforcement). Volunteers can learn about good construction techniques while helping to build these full scale walls during December 11- 15th.

Student teams will build walls, plaster them and let them dry for several months. Patti Stouter will be helping with the sample construction. If we have several extra volunteers, she can give seminars on choosing soils, reinforcement techniques and designing plans for earthen buildings in seismic risk regions.

Please contact Patti at if you can help!

5 thoughts on “Earthbag Training and Testing at Santa Clara University, CA”

  1. I pounded metre length metal road-ties through my first 2 layers of hyperadobe earth bag and into the 3 foot gravel bag foundation to try to provide a more stable connection. I’m building in the UK, so not much chance of earthquakes, but it is on a slight hill, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt. I also pounded road ties from the top layer through the wood joist plates. Also used strapping.

  2. Are they looking at like plastic geomesh or the basalt mesh that could placed within the footer at the time of the footer pour and as the wall was being build either the plastic or basalt mesh tied in between layers and the the mesh being part of the pour for the bond beam?

    That would to me a way of having the wall to move as one unit?

  3. Here is her description of how this system works:
    They are using small sandbags where rebar will be hammered into the wall. After the rebar is inserted, they remove the sand and pack concrete around the overlapping rebar. This may increase strength by 50%.


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