Problem soils can be naturally occurring or man-made soils. This includes soils that have been displaced naturally or by man. Problem soils can give rise to many geotechnical difficulties including inadequate bearing capacity, the potential for unacceptable settlements and slope instability. There are many types of problem soils, some of the most noteworthy being expansive soils, collapsible soils, soft clays and dispersive soils. Most of the damage to structures in South Africa is related to soil characteristics, with expansive and collapsing soils causing the most problems.

In addition to the well documented historic concerns dealing with specific problem soils, recent encounters with significant situations have highlighted the need for a comprehensive documentation on the role of remote sensing and GIS technologies for mapping, characterizing and monitoring problem soils in South Africa.

The report by Diop et al., 2011 discusses the types of problem soils encountered in South Africa and conditions leading to hazard events. The effects of hazards from problem soils are highlighted as well as the costs associated with remediation


Diop, S., Stapelberg, F., Tegegn K., Ngubelanga, S. & Heath, L. 2011. A review of problem soils in South Africa. Council for Geoscience Report Number: 2011-0062.

Click on the link below to download the report.