Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Daniel Jansen


This thesis examines the use of diagonal tension (shear) testing to determine factors affecting shear strength of Interlocking Compressed Earth Block (ICEB) panels. This work expands on the current information available about strength properties of ICEB assemblies, which are dry-stacked, as opposed to having mortared beds. Variables such as block strength, grout strength and grouting pattern can influence the results of these types of tests and are examined in this investigation.

To study variables affecting diagonal shear strength, 9 panels were tested, consisting of blocks produced by a manual block press. Strength testing was adopted from common ASTM standards to determine constituent material properties. A modified version of ASTM E519 test procedure is used to perform diagonal tension testing. Imaging analysis, using a high resolution camera, was run simultaneously during testing to capture displacement histories of select panels.

It was determined that both block and grout strength significantly affect the shear strength of ICEB panels. Additionally, vertical grouting and block type also have a strong influence. Imaging analysis results confirm that the dominant failure mode in ICEB panels is bed joint sliding both pre and post peak load, with noticeable displacements at head joint locations on a few panels. Lastly, diagonal cracking along the block face was noticeable on several panels following peak load. Further testing remains to determine other factors affecting shear strength, namely, the application of normal pre-compression loads to the panel.