Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Peter T. Bobrowsky, Brian Marker

Collapsible Soils

  • Martin Culshaw
  • I. Jefferson
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73568-9_61


Soils that have the potential to collapse generally possess porous textures with high void ratios and relatively low densities. At their natural moisture content these soils possess high apparent strength but they are susceptible to large reductions in void ratio on wetting, especially under load. In other words, the metastable texture collapses as the bonds between the grains break down as the soil becomes saturated (Culshaw et al. 2018).

Collapse of soils is controlled both microscopically and macroscopically, and both aspects need to be understood if the controls on collapse are to be determined. When collapse takes place, there is a rearrangement of soil particles resulting in densification. Collapse typically takes place rapidly as the soil passes from a metastable condition to a normally consolidated one.

Jefferson and Rogers (2012) defined collapsible soils as: “…soils in which the major structural units are initially arranged in a metastable packing through a suite...

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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Culshaw
    • 1
    • 2
  • I. Jefferson
    • 2
  1. 1.British Geological SurveyNottinghamUK
  2. 2.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK