Emergent phenomena in spatially varying soils

Hyun Ki Kim*, Guillermo A. Narsilio, J. Carlos Santamarina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Spatial variability in soils gives rise to various phenomena that do not take place in homogeneous media. We report in this document emergent phenomena related to variability in stiffness, strength, conduction and diffusion. Stiffness variability triggers stress focusing along stiffer percolating zones, and alters elastic wave propagation causing ray bending, mode conversion, diffraction healing, and coda. The heterogeneous distribution of strength promotes localized shear failure along interconnected weaknesses. Excess pore water pressure generation and dissipation are highly sensitive to the variability in stiffness and hydraulic conductivity. The effective hydraulic conductivity decreases with increasing variability in k-fields. Spatial correlation plays a secondary role in the absence of high-k percolating paths or low-k transverse seams. Most analytical closed-form solutions for effective stiffness, strength, conduction or diffusion are based on volume fractions and fail to capture the spatial distribution and correlation that are inherent in natural sediments. Copyright ASCE 2007.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10
Number of pages1
JournalGeotechnical Special Publication
Issue number170
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
EventGeo-Denver 2007: New Peaks in Geotechnics - Denver, CO, United States
Duration: Feb 18 2007Feb 21 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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