The Portland Cement Association commissioned a research project at Brigham Young University to compare selected laboratory durability tests available for assessing stabilized aggregate base materials. The laboratory research associated with this project involved two granular base materials, three stabilizers at three concentration levels each, and three durability tests in a full-factorial experimental design. The granular base materials consisted of an aggregate-reclaimed asphalt pavement blend obtained from Interstate 84 (I-84) and a crushed limestone obtained from U.S. Highway 91 (US-91), while the three stabilizer types included Class C fly ash, lime-fly ash, and Type I/II Portland cement. Specimens were tested for durability using the freeze-thaw test, the vacuum saturation test, and the tube suction test. Analyses of the test results indicated that the unconfined compressive strength (UCS) and retained UCS were higher for specimens tested in freeze-thaw cycling than the corresponding values associated with vacuum saturation testing. This observation suggests that the vacuum saturation test is more severe than the freeze-thaw test for materials similar to those evaluated in this research. The analyses also indicated that the I-84 material retained more strength during freeze-thaw cycling and vacuum saturation and exhibited lower final dielectric values during tube suction testing than the US-91 material. Although the I-84 material performed better than the US-91 material, the I-84 material required higher stabilizer concentrations to reach the target 7-day UCS values specified in this research. After freeze-thaw testing, the Class C fly-treated specimens were significantly stronger than both lime-fly ash- and cement-treated specimens. In the vacuum saturation test, none of the three stabilizer types were significantly different from each other with respect to either UCS or retained UCS. Dielectric values measured during tube suction testing were lowest for cement-treated specimens, indicating that cement performed better than other stabilizers in reducing the moisture/frost susceptibility of the treated materials. The results also show that, as the stabilizer concentration level increased from low to high, specimens performed better in nearly all cases. A strong correlation was identified between UCS after the freeze-thaw test and UCS after the vacuum saturation test, while very weak correlations were observed between the final dielectric value after tube suction testing and all other response variables. Differences in variability between test results were determined to be statistically insignificant. Engineers interested in specifying a comparatively severe laboratory durability test should consider vacuum saturation testing for specimens treated with stabilizers similar to those evaluated in this research. The vacuum saturation test is superior to both the freeze-thaw and tube suction tests because of the shorter duration and lack of a need for daily specimen monitoring. Although the Class C fly ash used in this research performed well, further investigation of various sources of Class C fly ash is recommended because of the variability inherent in that material. Similar research should be performed on subgrade soils, which are also routinely stabilized in pavement construction. Research related to long-term field performance of stabilized materials should be conducted to develop appropriate thresholds for laboratory UCS values in conjunction with vacuum saturation testing.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





aggregate, base material, durability, reclaimed asphalt pavement, RAP, crushed limestone, class c fly ash, lime-fly ash, cement, freeze-thaw test, vacuum saturation test, tube suction test