Open-mode discontinuities in soils

H. Shin*, Juan Carlos Santamarina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The formation of open-mode discontinuities is a common occurrence in soils. This family of discontinuities includes hydraulic fractures, gas-driven fractures, desiccation cracks, ice and hydrate lenses, and even roots. These discontinuities can be analysed at the particle scale or at the macroscale using constitutive models that are consistent with the effective stress-dependent behaviour of soils. Both analyses show that the medium is in compression everywhere and that growth is intimately related to unloading and expansion ahead of the tip. While these observations appear to be common to the development of all open-mode fractures in soils, there are pronounced invasion differences between miscible fluids and immiscible phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-99
Number of pages5
JournalGeotechnique Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • Failure
  • Numerical modelling
  • Strain localization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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