Pores—The Almost Invisible Part of Soil

  • J. David FrostEmail author
  • Nimisha Roy
  • Mahdi Roozbahani
  • Ye Lu
  • Jie Cao
  • Prashanth Vangla
Part of the Developments in Geotechnical Engineering book series (DGE)


Notwithstanding the fact that up to 50 % or more of the volume of many soils consists of pores, the manner in which the pores are characterized, described, quantified, and information about them is utilized in describing the expected behavior of a soil compared to what is done for particles in the same soil is effectively nonexistent. In many cases, the pore aspect of the soil is described by a single value such as void ratio or porosity and as such, the richness that pores bring to the overall soil response is not captured. This lack of detail and specificity about pores and their properties is largely due to historical vestiges of how such properties are studied. In the physical or analog world, particles are much more tangible than pores and thus are easier to focus on and characterize using mechanical processes. This relative tangibility in the analog world has not changed today, however, what has changed are the range of techniques and tools that we have available which allow us to conduct many of these studies on a digital replica of the soil. In this transformed space, pores are equally as tangible as particles. This paper explores how this situation has evolved with the introduction of new approaches that are now available to study all aspects of soils equitably and where the role of pores in soil response can be readily studied and quantified in a manner similar to that of particles.


Pores Particles Soil Behavior Digital Reconstruction Network Tortuosity 



The contributions of a number of former and current graduate students at Georgia Tech including Deh-Jeng Jang, Jin-Young Park, Chien-Chang Chen, Xuan Yang, and Rodrigo Borela in conducting some of the experiments and simulations presented in this manuscript are gratefully acknowledged.


  1. 1.
    Terzaghi, K.: Erdbaumechanik auf bodenphysikalischer Grundlage. Leipzig and Vienna: Franz Deuticke, 399 pp. (1925)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Coulomb, C.A.: Essai sur une application des règles de maximis et minimis à quelques problèmes de statique relatifs à l’architecture, in Mémoires de la mathématique et de physique, présentés à l’Académie Royale des Sciences, par divers Savants, et lÛs dans sés Assemblées. Paris: De l’Imprimerie Royale, Année. 7, 343–384 (1773)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rankine, W.J.M.: On the stability of loose earth. Roy. Soc. Lond. Philos. Trans. 147(pt. I), 9–27 (1857)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dullien, F.A.L.: Structure of porous media. In: Bear, J., Corapcioglu, M.Y. (eds.) Transport Processes in Porous Media. NATO ASI Series (Series E: Applied Sciences), vol. 202. Springer, Dordrecht (1991)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Darcy, H.: Les fontaines publiques de la ville de Dijon. Dalmont, Paris (1856)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hardin, B.O., Kalinski, M.E.: Estimating the shear modulus of gravelly soils. ASCE J. Geotech. Geo-environ. Eng. 131(7), 867–875 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Roozbahani, M.M., Borela, R., Frost, J.D.: Pore size distribution in granular material microstructure. J. Mater. 10(11), 1237–1258 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Shanghai UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Golder AssociatesSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Indian Institute of Technology DelhiNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations