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Natural walls in many strengths

How strong is needed? Estimate quake risk levels from local info or BSI's map. For landslides, tsunamis, artillery or vehicle accidents, similar details may work.  

Earthen walls do well in white areas of BSI's map

Minimal Strength

If quake forces are <0.25 g or less, earthen huts protected from water last hundreds of years. They moderate humidity and temperature swings.

Earth techniques include traditional adobe, puddled adobe, cob, rammed earth and compressed blocks and plastered earthbag. 


More wall than window
Water-resistant footing and moisture break
Walls thick enough for the height
Stiffen long walls with buttresses 
Connect walls to lintels, bond beam

Resilient earthbag for low risk (light gray on BSI's map)

Limited Strength

If quake forces are 0.25- 0.6 g, build with soil at least 1,8 MPa (190 psi) strength. Use field tests to check.

Interconnect footings and walls strongly. Keep stub walls less than 1.2 m (4') long. Space intersecting walls or buttresses every 3- 6 m (10- 20'). Check bracing for risk and details.

Rammed and adobe construction details are included in free versions of NZS 4299 online. Check newer 4299:2020 for CEB details.

Build conventional earthbag with strong (2,1 MPa/ 300 psi) soils. Use some splices linking inserted rebars.

Free Low-Cement CE Construction pdf

Stronger for medium- high seismic risk (dark gray/ black on BSI's map

Moderate or High Strength

Brittle earthen walls of adobe, CEB, or rammed need rebar and RC footings.

More flexible walls may use gravel bag with wire binding like cob (in cool regions) and reinforced ICEB.

Earthbag's high ductility needs less steel than other walls. Use spot corner reinforced concrete (RC) footings with gravel bag up to 1 g risk.

Free Standard Grade CE Construction pdf

Above 1 g use RC strip footings confining gravel.

Free High Strength CE pdf

climb the learning curve

Conventional Earthbag Resources

1.2- 1.6 MB pdfs
Earthbag Info Series, P. Stouter, 2020

Visual booklets introducing earthbag as built around the world.


Find pdfs
Basic Earthbag Building, O. Geiger, 2011

3 hours of video instruction. Preview free video clips on the youtube channel Naturalhouses.


Paperback or kindle
Essential Earthbag Construction: , K. Hart, 2018

144 pages. Drafted and photo illustrations, includes carbon footprint info and more.


Paperback or kindle
Earthbag Building: The Tools Tricks and Techniques, K. Hunter and D. Kiffmeyer, 2004

280 pages. Drawn and photo illustrations, includes 40 pages about domes.



Earthbag for Seismic Risk Resources

500 kb pdfs
Small soil strength estimates

How Strong is My Soil, P. Stouter, 2017: Instructions.

Information about Field Soil Tests, P. Stouter, 2017: Research and more.


Available now 
2- 4 MB pdfs
Resilient CE Construction Series, P. Stouter, 2020

Separate information and details for different seismic risk levels.

High Strength Resilient CE Earthbag > 1 g risk, use with engineering advice

Standard Grade CE/ Moderate Risk 0.6-  1 g risk, includes tables to size bracing walls

Low-Cement CE/ Low Risk < 0.6 g risk, includes tables to size bracing walls


Available now       
Earthbag for Seismic Risk Areas: Resilient CE v 2.1, 2021

The resilient CE booklets plus explanations about seismic damage, bracing walls and costs.

after June 2021
3.3 MB pdf
New Zealand Standards 4299:1998; Earth buildings without specific engineering

Detailed construction information useful to engineers and planners new to designing with earth building walls.


Find pdf