Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology

Part of the series Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series pp 1-2

Date: Latest Version


  • Michael T. HendryAffiliated withDepartment Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta Email author 


Elasticity is ability of a material to deform under an applied load, such that the resulting deformation is recoverable (elastic) once the load is removed.


The following is a presentation of the mathematical formulation for elasticity, a contrast between elastic and plastic deformation, and the application of elasticity to rock and soils (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1

Moduli (Ei, Eii, and Eiii) evaluated at the same strain for different portions of an unload and reload cycle and thus differing stress history

Elasticity of Rock and Soil

The earliest formulation of a mathematical description of elasticity resulted from experiments conducted by Hooke and published in Hooke (1675). This formulation stated that the deformation of a body is directly proportional to the applied loading. More contemporary applications of these results are presented as Hooke’s law, representing it in terms of stress (σ), strain (ε), and the Young’s modulus ...

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