Volume 39, N. 1, Special Issue: Unsaturated Soils (Invited Editors: G.F.N. Gitirana Jr. & D.G. Fredlund), January-April 2016 | PDF(15 downloads)
The description of the stress state in soils is the foundational point around which an applied science should be built for engineering practice. The stress state description has proven to be pivotal for saturated soil mechanics and the same should be true for unsaturated soil mechanics. Continuum mechanics sets forth a series of principles upon which a common science base can be developed for a wide range of materials. The principles require that there be a clear distinction between state variables and constitutive relations. Constitutive relations relate state variables and incorporate material properties. State variables, on the other hand, are independent of the material properties. It has been possible to maintain a clear distinction between variables of state and constitutive relations in the development of saturated soil mechanics and the same should be true for unsaturated soil mechanics. This paper presents a description of the source and character of stress state variables for saturated and unsaturated soils. The descriptions are consistent with the principles of multiphase continuum mechanics and provide an understanding of the source and importance of stress state variables.