Volume 44, N. 3

Special Issue: Unsaturated Soils (Invited Editors: T.M.P. Campos, F.A.M. Marinho, G.F.N. Gitirana Jr.), July-September, in Progress, 2021

Myths and misconceptions related to unsaturated soil mechanics

Article

Volume 44, N. 3, Special Issue: Unsaturated Soils (Invited Editors: T.M.P. Campos, F.A.M. Marinho, G.F.N. Gitirana Jr.), July-September, in Progress, 2021 | PDF (72 downloads)

Abstract

There have been three main pillars associated with the development of an applied engineering science for both saturated and unsaturated soil mechanics; namely, i) the synthesis of continuum mechanics theories of physical behavior, ii) the laboratory measurement of relevant soil properties, and iii) analyses that illustrate the solution of practical example problems. Geotechnical engineers have, however, been relatively slow in adopting unsaturated soil mechanics into geotechnical engineering practice. There have been several so-called “myths or misconceptions” that appear to have hindered the application of unsaturated soil mechanics. This paper attempts to describe and dispel what are deemed to be misconceptions related to the more general implementation of unsaturated soil mechanics into engineering practice. The so-called “myths” come from the acceptance of false information related to unsaturated soil behavior and a hesitancy to embrace changes to existing empirical protocols. Several misconceptions are identified in the paper that are related to: i) complexity of unsaturated soil mechanics theories, ii) inability to readily measure soil suctions in-situ, iii) the nonlinearity of unsaturated soil property functions, iv) permanency of soil suctions above the water table, v) difficulties associated with assessing ground surface moisture flux conditions, and vi) difficulties associated with numerical modeling that involves solving nonlinear partial differential equations. Each of the above-mentioned items are dealt with as myths or misconceptions in the sense of being impediments to the application of unsaturated soil mechanics in geotechnical engineering practice.

Keywords: Unsaturated soil mechanics, Soil suction, Unsaturated soil property functions, Moisture flux, Myths,


Submitted on January 13, 2021.
Final Acceptance on February 18, 2021.
Discussion open until November 30, 2021.
DOI: 10.28927/SR.2021.062521