Acta Geotechnica

, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 583–596 | Cite as

Exploring desiccation cracks in soils using a 2D profile laser device

  • Marcelo SanchezEmail author
  • Alvis Atique
  • Sewon Kim
  • Enrique Romero
  • Marcin Zielinski
Research Paper


The study of desiccation cracks in soils has been a subject of increasing attention in recent research. This paper presents the use of a 2D profile laser that is coupled with a motion controller (that allows scanning the overall surface of a drying soil) and electronic balance (to measure the water loss). The aim is to accurately track the three most relevant variables associated with the behavior of soils during desiccation: volume change, water loss and evolving crack network’s morphology. The paper presents the methodology to obtain a digital model of the soil using the experimental setup described above. The main results of a natural soil subjected to drying are presented and discussed, including evolution of cracks aperture; evolution of cracks depth, surface contour levels (at different times); and evolution of volume change. It is shown that the proposed methodology provides very useful information for studying the behavior of soils subjected to desiccation.


Drying cracks Laser scanner Soil desiccation Volume shrinkage 



The discussions with Drs Rebecca Lunn and Minna Karstunen are highly appreciated. The fifth author would like to acknowledge the financial support provided by the EU-funded project RISMAC (Grant agreement: PIOF-GA-2009-254794).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo Sanchez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alvis Atique
    • 2
  • Sewon Kim
    • 1
  • Enrique Romero
    • 3
  • Marcin Zielinski
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Zachry Department of Civil EngineeringTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of StrathclydeGlasgowUK
  3. 3.Department of Geotechnical Engineering and GeosciencesUniversitat Politècnica de CatalunyaBarcelonaSpain

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