The application of unsaturated soil mechanics in routine geotechnical engineering applications requires the determination of unsaturated soil properties. Unfortunately, the cost of direct measurement of unsaturated soil properties goes beyond the financial budget of most clients. A solution has arisen, however, that involves the measurement of two less costly soil properties functions that can be used in conjunction with a series of assumptions and estimation methodologies. The two laboratory tests involve measurement of the: (i) gravimetric water content versus soil suction, referred to as the soil-water characteristic curve (w-SWCC) and (ii) water content versus void ratio, referred to as the shrinkage curve (SC). These two unsaturated soil property relationships can be used along with saturated soil properties to extend unsaturated soil properties over the full range of soil suctions. “Estimation procedures” have been developed and verified for all physical properties of interest in unsaturated soil mechanics. The use of estimation procedures has meant that the geotechnical engineer must operate within a new paradigm. The new paradigm provides sufficient accuracy for most geotechnical engineering applications. The net result is an increased decision-making capability for geotechnical engineers.
This article appeared in Geosciences 2020, 10(9), 364; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10090364It is available as Open Access.