Instability criteria for quasi-saturated viscous soils

Ferdinando Marinelli, Giuseppe Buscarnera*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This paper presents a theoretical framework to interpret the inception of unstable undrained creep in quasi-saturated soils. For this purpose, the effect of gas bubbles occluded in the fluid phase is embedded into an augmented compressibility of the fluid mixture, while the mechanical characteristics of the solid skeleton have been simulated through a viscoplastic strain-hardening model. This constitutive framework has been been used to formulate a theoretical platform able to detect runaway failures resulting from extended stages of undrained creep. It is shown that the conditions identifying the onset of spontaneous accelerations are governed by the same stability index associated with the initiation of static liquefaction. At variance with soils saturated by incompressible fluids, the conditions for undrained instability are altered by the appearance of the Skempton coefficient B, thus reflecting the beneficial effect of the fluid compressibility and its ability to decrease the liquefaction potential. The capabilities of the theory are verified through a sequence of undrained creep simulations showing the transition from stable to unstable behavior resulting from an increase of the degree of saturation. The proposed findings provide a conceptual framework to interpret the effects of gas bubbles in loose soils, as well as to assess effectiveness and longevity of liquefaction mitigation strategies based on desaturation technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-400
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 25 2018


  • Perzyna-like viscoplasticity
  • granular materials
  • instability line
  • quasi-saturated soils
  • static liquefaction
  • undrained creep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • General Materials Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials


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