Sustainable Concrete Using Native Materials from the Navajo Nation

Project Details









Denise Dunn, Anusuya Vellingiri


Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology


Concrete pavements, Environmental impacts, Local materials, Mechanical properties, Mix design, Volcanic rock



Project description

Using the Navajo Nation’s volcanic rocks and sands in concrete promotes sustainability and preserves natural resources in this culturally rich community. This study aims to use local volcanic materials from the El Malpais area for Jointed Plain Concrete Pavements (JPCP), reducing reliance on conventional aggregates and minimizing environmental impact. Therefore, the goal of this study is to reduce reliance on conventional aggregates, minimize environmental impact, empower the community, and promote economic development within the Navajo Nation. Specifically, this research will evaluate the mechanical properties of concrete containing fine aggregates of various particle size distributions, available locally. The proposed study includes the following seven tasks. Task 1: A targeted literature review will be conducted focused on the geology of the region, El Malpais, for collecting materials for this study. In addition to reviewing any use of the local materials, their properties reported in the literature will be documented. Task 2: Local volcanic aggregates and available cement materials will be collected. Task 3: Collected aggregates will be tested for their suitability for incorporation in concrete, including sieve analysis, specific gravity, water absorption, and moisture. Task 4: The mix design protocols commonly used by the Navajo Nation for JPCP mixes will be followed and tailored to the project needs, including the development of mix designs and associated material property testing. Task 5: Laboratory testing of properties required for JPCP will be conducted. Task 6: Life cycle cost analysis and carbon footprint calculations will be used to assess the economic and environmental benefits. Task 7: A comparison between the carbon footprint of the proposed mixes and typical concrete mixes will be conducted. This project seeks to empower the Navajo Nation, enhance sustainability, and promote DEIA through education and the use of local materials in infrastructure construction. This project will provide recommendations and guidelines for incorporating native aggregates in concrete construction, promoting sustainable and culturally sensitive building practices. The mix designs, test data, and recommendations will be used by the local companies and the Navajo Nation to promote the use of local materials to construct infrastructure and, thereby, enhance sustainability and economic benefits. Empowering the Navajo Nation’s aggregate industry can address the USDOT strategic goal of Economic Strength and Global Competitiveness.