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From saturated to unsaturated conditions and vice versa

Lloret-Cabot, Martí; Wheeler, Simon J.; Pineda, Jubert A.; Romero, Enrique; Sheng, Daichao

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Simon J. Wheeler

Jubert A. Pineda

Enrique Romero

Daichao Sheng


Representing transitions between saturated and unsaturated conditions, during drying, wetting and loading paths, is a necessary step for a consistent unification between saturated and unsaturated soil mechanics. Transitions from saturated to unsaturated conditions during drying will occur at a nonzero air-entry value of suction, whereas transitions from unsaturated to saturated conditions during wetting or loading will occur at a lower nonzero air-exclusion value of suction. Air-entry and air-exclusion values of suction for a given soil will differ (representing hysteresis in the retention behaviour) and both are affected by changes in the dry density of the soil or by the occurrence of plastic volumetric strains. The paper demonstrates, through model simulations and comparison with experimental data from the literature (covering drying, wetting and loading tests), that the Glasgow Coupled Model (GCM), a coupled elasto-plastic constitutive model covering both mechanical and retention behaviour, represents transitions between unsaturated and saturated behaviour in a consistent fashion. Key aspects of the GCM are the use of Bishop’s stress tensor for mechanical behaviour, the additional influence of degree of saturation on mechanical yielding, inclusion of hysteresis in the retention behaviour, and the role of plastic volumetric strains (and not total volumetric strains) in the description of the water retention response. The success of the GCM in representing consistently transitions between saturated and unsaturated conditions, together with subsequent mechanical and retention responses, demonstrates the potential of this coupled constitutive model for numerical modelling of boundary value problems involving saturated and unsaturated conditions.


Lloret-Cabot, M., Wheeler, S. J., Pineda, J. A., Romero, E., & Sheng, D. (2018). From saturated to unsaturated conditions and vice versa. Acta Geotechnica, 13(1), 15-37.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 11, 2017
Online Publication Date Aug 5, 2017
Publication Date Feb 1, 2018
Deposit Date Oct 2, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 4, 2018
Journal Acta Geotechnica
Print ISSN 1861-1125
Electronic ISSN 1861-1133
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1
Pages 15-37


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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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