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Cohesive Soils

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Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology

Part of the book series: Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series ((EESS))


Cohesive soils are fine-grained, low-strength, and easily deformable soils that have a tendency for particles to adhere. The soil is classified as cohesive if the amount of fines (silt and clay-sized material) exceeds 50% by weight (Mitchell and Soga 2005). Examples of cohesive soils include sandy clay, silty clay, clayey silt, and organic clay.


Cohesive soils have significant cohesive strength and exhibit plasticity. Cohesion between soil particles comes from three major sources, cementation, electrostatic and electromagnetic attraction, and primary valence bonding and adhesion (Mitchell and Soga 2005). The structure of clay in cohesive soil has a great influence in the engineering behavior of soils. The structure of soil refers to the geometric arrangement of soil or mineral particles and depends on genetic, chemical, mineralogical characteristic, as well as past stress conditions of the soil. Interparticle force also influences the soil structure. For...

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Correspondence to Tej P. Gautam .

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Gautam, T.P. (2018). Cohesive Soils. In: Bobrowsky, P.T., Marker, B. (eds) Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series. Springer, Cham.

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