Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky, Brian Marker

Quick Clay

  • Marten GeertsemaEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73568-9_231


Glaciomarine sediment; Leda clay; Sensitive clay


Quick clay is a special type of clay prone to sudden strength loss upon disturbance. From a relatively stiff material in the undisturbed condition, an imposed stress can turn such clay into a liquid slurry.


Quick clay is defined as a clay where the undisturbed shear strength of the soil is at least 30 times greater than the remoulded (or disturbed) shear strength (Torrance 1983). The ratio of undisturbed to disturbed strength is termed sensitivity. Thus a quick clay is very sensitive.

Quick clay is common along previously glaciated coastlines in parts of Canada and Scandinavia, and has also been found in Japan and in Alaska. Coastlines in these areas were submerged by the weight of glaciers during glaciation. As glaciers retreated, seas migrated inland with retreating icefronts. Glacially ground sediments, transported in plumes of glacial meltwater were deposited in the salt water of these ice marginal seas.

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  1. Gregersen, O (1981) The quick clay landslide in Rissa, Norway. NGI Publication 135:1–6Google Scholar
  2. Tavenas F, Chagnon J-Y, La Rochelle P (1971) The Saint-Jean-Vianney landslide: observations and eyewitnesses accounts. Can Geotech J 8:463–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Torrance JK (1983) Towards a general model of quick clay development. Sedimentology 30:547–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural DevelopmentPrince GeorgeCanada