Soil behavior at the microscale: Particle forces

J. Carlos Santamarina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Soils are particulate materials. Therefore, the behavior of soils is determined by the forces particles experience. These include forces due to boundary loads (transmitted through the skeleton), particle-level forces (gravitational, buoyant, and hydrodynamic), and contact level forces (capillary, electrical and cementation-reactive). The relative balance between these forces permits identifying various domains of soil behavior. Furthermore, the evolution of particle forces helps explain phenomena related to unsaturation, differences between drained and undrained strength under various loading modes (including the effect of plasticity), sampling disturbance, and fines migration during seepage. Generally accepted concepts gain new clarity when re-interpreted at the level of particle forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-56
Number of pages32
JournalGeotechnical Special Publication
Issue number119
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes
EventSoil Behavior And Soft Ground Construction - Cambridge, MA, United States
Duration: Oct 5 2001Oct 6 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Soil behavior at the microscale: Particle forces'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this