Specific surface: Determination and relevance

J. C. Santamarina*, K. A. Klein, Yu Hsing Wang, E. Prencke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

505 Scopus citations


Specific surface captures the combined effects of particle size and slenderness in a measurement that is independent and complementary to grain-size distribution. There are various methods to measure specific surface, including gas adsorption in dry conditions and selective molecular absorption in aqueous suspensions. The measurement procedure can have an important effect on measured values, yet such sensitivity is informative in itself. The amount of surface in a soil mass determines the balance between surface-related forces and gravimetric-skeletal forces acting on a soil particle, affects fabric formation, supports rich energy coupling mechanisms, governs conduction, and controls sorption and retardation during chemical diffusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-241
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Atterberg limits
  • Fabric
  • Gas adsorption
  • Grain-size distribution
  • Methylene blue
  • Specific surface
  • Surface area

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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