Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 1933–1951 | Cite as

A Critical Review on Filter Design Criteria for Dispersive Base Soils

  • Amir Hossein VakiliEmail author
  • Mohamad Razip bin Selamat
  • Parsa Mohajeri
  • Hossein Moayedi
State-of-the-Art Review


Dispersive soils have become common materials for the construction industry. Highly susceptible to internal erosion and piping, dispersive soils must only be used with specific engineering measure in order to avoid failures that were often catastrophic. In an earth dam, clayey soils are used for the core and sandy materials are used for the filter to retain the eroded core soils and prevent their migration. In the absence of first-rate core material, dispersive soils have been used instead. This paper provides a review of the current knowledge and experiences regarding filtration of core soils, particularly the dispersive ones. The engineering problems associated with the use of dispersive soils are discussed and significant findings from previous studies on protective filters are summarized. It is worthy to note that the current review considers both, the conventional, rather empirical filter design criteria based on particle sizes and the current, quite theoretical state-of-the-art filter design criteria based on constriction sizes, with discussion given on the advantages and disadvantages of both. The information provided by this review should be handy for the study, design, construction, and operation of related geotechnical and geo-environmental projects.


Dispersive base soils Earth dams Erosion Piping Filter design criteria 

List of symbols


Particle size distribution


Diameter of filter particle at which i% of the filter material is smaller than in mm


Diameter of base soil particle at which i% of the material is smaller than in mm


The percentage passing diameter di


d85 size of base soil, in mm, recalculated by excluding the fraction retained by the 4.75 mm sieve


d85 size of the fine portion of base soil materials


d15 size of the coarse portion of base soil materials


The d85 size, in mm, calculated using reduced particle size distribution curve

\( {\text{d}}_{{85{\text{m}}}}^{*} \)

d85 size of base soil, in mm, recalculated by excluding the fraction retained by the 0.075 mm sieve


Size of the smallest particles of the base materials in µm


Plasticity index

pp% 0.075 mm

Percent passing through the 0.075 mm size

Fines content

pp% 0.075 mm


Fine content


No erosion filter


Permeability coefficient of filter materials in cm/s

kbase soil

Permeability coefficient of base soil materials in cm/s


Constriction size, in mm, whereby 35% of the filter constriction are finer than


Constriction size, in mm, whereby 95% of the filter constriction are finer than

\( {\text{D}}_{\text{c}}^{\text{m}} \)

Mean constriction size in mm

\( {\text{d}}_{85}^{*} \)

The d85 size, in mm, calculated using modified particle size distribution curve by neglecting the base soil particles larger than Dc95



This study has been fully funded by Universiti Sains Malaysia through various research, postgraduate, and postdoctoral grants.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amir Hossein Vakili
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Mohamad Razip bin Selamat
    • 3
  • Parsa Mohajeri
    • 3
  • Hossein Moayedi
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringZand Institute of Higher EducationShirazIran
  2. 2.Young Researcher and Elite Club, Estahban BranchIslamic Azad UniversityEstahbanIran
  3. 3.School of Civil EngineeringUniversiti Sains MalaysiaNibong TebalMalaysia
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringKermanshah University of TechnologyKermanshahIran

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