Micromechanical-Based Shear Strength Equation Considering the Stress-State Effect for Unsaturated Soils

Tuan A. Pham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Unsaturated soil shear strength is a crucial and useful parameter for predicting geostructure stability, soil erosion, seasonal variation, and land management. Unsaturated shear strength measurement, however, is frequently costly, complex, and time-consuming. The main objective of this paper is to present a new generalized equation for the shear strength estimation of unsaturated soils. The proposed equation is derived from a micromechanical equilibrium condition considering the interaction of air, water, and solid phases. The particle contact area effect is taken into account in the proposed model, even though it is thought to be negligible in existing equations. In comparison with existing equations, the proposed one has the benefit of being able to capture the nonlinear influence of saturation degree and matric suction on unsaturated shear strength. The proposed equation is compared with several other existing equations as well as experimental data for four different soil types to verify its validity. The findings indicate that the proposed equation has a potential application in estimating unsaturated soil shear strength and that it outperforms existing equations. The stress state also has a substantial impact on the shear strength properties of unsaturated soils, which was extended to include in the proposed equation. The results reveal that the proposed equation is capable of accurately predicting the variation of the soil-water characteristic curve and unsaturated soil shear strength as a function of the stress state.

Original languageEnglish
Article number06022022
JournalInternational Journal of Geomechanics
Issue number9
Early online date30 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Effective stress analysis
  • Shear strength
  • Soil erosion
  • Soil suction
  • Soil-water characteristic curve
  • Stress state
  • Unsaturated soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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