Thesis Progress at CES on 22 November 2017 at 3:00 pm titled "Building Mud Castles: Termite Mound Construction across Length and Time Scales" by Nikita Zachariah from CES, IIScHost of the speakerESS
Biocemented earthen structures like termite mounds are one amongst many examples of animal-built structures with exogenous and/or endogenous materials that have received scrutiny from architects, structural engineers and soil scientists. However, little is known about the process of construction at different length and time scales. In this interdisciplinary study between ecologists and engineers, we explore termite mound construction at micro-, meso- and macroscales represented by aggregation of soil into bricks with the help of termite secretions, cementation and curing of bricks, and densification and compaction of mound soil over its lifetime. The above processes occur over a wide range of time spans – from a few seconds to decades. This ongoing work provides us insights into the process of mound construction by close to a million termite individuals working in tandem without an architect or masterplan and leading to stable structures that are three orders of magnitude larger than individual termites and retain structural stability for decades.