Transport in Porous Media

, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 369–396 | Cite as

Effective Stress in Unsaturated Soils: A Thermodynamic Approach Based on the Interfacial Energy and Hydromechanical Coupling

  • Ehsan NikooeeEmail author
  • Ghassem Habibagahi
  • S. Majid Hassanizadeh
  • Arsalan Ghahramani


In recent years, the effective stress approach has received much attention in the constitutive modeling of unsaturated soils. In this approach, the effective stress parameter is very important. This parameter needs a correct definition and has to be determined properly. In this paper, a thermodynamic approach is used to develop a physically-based formula for the effective stress tensor in unsaturated soils. This approach accounts for the hydro-mechanical coupling, which is quite important when dealing with hydraulic hysteresis in unsaturated soils. The resulting formula takes into account the role of interfacial energy and the contribution of air–water specific interfacial area to the effective stress tensor. Moreover, a bi-quadratic surface is proposed to represent the contribution of the so-called suction stress in the effective stress tensor. It is shown that the proposed relationship for suction stress is in agreement with available experimental data in the full hydraulic cycle (drying, scanning, and wetting).


Effective stress parameter Entropy inequality Interfacial energy Hydro-mechanical coupling Air water specific interfacial area Suction stress characteristic surface (SSCS) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ehsan Nikooee
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ghassem Habibagahi
    • 1
  • S. Majid Hassanizadeh
    • 2
  • Arsalan Ghahramani
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringShiraz UniversityShirazIran
  2. 2.Earth Sciences DepartmentUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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