Encyclopedia of Engineering Geology

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


  • Jeffrey R. KeatonEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73568-9_91


Dilatancy is the property of soil material that refers to a change in its volume in response to shearing under a certain normal or confining stress.


Soil material in an initially high relative density condition (low initial void ratio, e o) will increase in volume (increase in void ratio) to a condition of constant volume with continued shearing under the same normal stress. Conversely, the same soil material in an initially low relative density condition (high e o) will decrease in volume (decrease in void ratio), ultimately converging to the same constant volume with continued shearing under the same normal stress (Houlsby 1991). The high-density soil response is dilative, whereas the low-density soil response is contractive (Fig. 1); the term dilatancy refers collectively to soil volume change response to shearing. The constant void ratio with continued shearing under a certain normal stress is a steady state condition known as the critical void ratio (Fig. 1). The...
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  1. Houlsby GT (1991) How the dilatancy of soils affects their behaviour. Oxford University, Department of Engineering Sciences, Oxford, UK, Report No. OUEL 1888/91. http://www.eng.ox.ac.uk/civil/publications/reports-1/ouel_1888_91.pdf. Accessed Apr 2016
  2. Jefferies M, Been K (2016) Soil liquefaction – a critical state approach, 2nd edn. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Amec Foster WheelerLos AngelesUSA