Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology

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

Date: Latest Version


  • Renato MacciottaAffiliated withDepartment Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Alberta Email author 


  1. 1.

    In Soil Mechanics (Engineering): Time-dependent volumetric change of a soil in response to increased loading, involving squeezing of water from the pores, decreasing volume, and increasing effective stresses

  2. 2.

    In Geology (Scientific): Process or processes whereby loose, soft, or molten earth materials become firm and coherent (Holtz et al. 2011; Herrmann and Bucksch 2014).


The engineering definition of consolidation is followed here.

Consolidation Process

During consolidation of a fully saturated soil, an isotropic stress state starts when an increase in total pressure (Δσ0) is applied to a soil volume that was initially at equilibrium under the in situ stress state (σ0) and pore water pressure (u0). The increase in total stress is assumed to be initially transferred as an increase in pore pressure (Δut=0) (Fig. 1). This increase in pore pressure dissipates over time at a rate that is inversely proportional t ...

This is an excerpt from the content