Influence of particle-size distribution homogeneity on shearing of soils subjected to internal erosion

Shijin Li, Adrian R. Russell (Lead / Corresponding author), David Muir Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Internal erosion (suffusion) is caused by water seeping through the matrix of coarse soil and progressively transporting out fine particles. The mechanical strength and stress–strain behavior of soils within water-retaining structures may be affected by internal erosion. Some researchers have set out to conduct triaxial erosion tests to study the mechanical consequences of erosion. Prior to conducting a triaxial test they subject a soil sample, which has an initially homogeneous particle-size distribution and density throughout, to erosion by causing water to enter one end of a sample and wash fine particles out the other. The erosion and movement of particles causes heterogeneous particle-size distributions to develop along the sample length. In this paper, a new soil sample formation procedure is presented that results in homogeneous particle-size distributions along the length of an eroded sample. Triaxial tests are conducted on homogeneous samples formed using the new procedure as well as heterogeneous samples created by the more commonly used approach. Results show that samples with homogeneous post-erosion particle-size distributions exhibit slightly higher peak deviator stresses than those that were heterogeneous. The results highlight the importance of ensuring homogeneity of post-erosion particle-size distributions when assessing the mechanical consequences of erosion. Forming samples using the new procedure enables the sample’s response to triaxial loading to be interpreted against a measure of its initially homogenous state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1684-1694
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Geotechnical Journal
Issue number11
Early online date7 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Internal erosion
  • Particle-size distribution
  • Triaxial test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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