Revisiting total, matric, and osmotic suction in partially saturated geomaterials Academic Article uri icon


  • An accurate quantification of negative pore pressure (commonly referred to as 'suction') in the pore network is necessary for modeling the mechanical response of unsaturated geomaterials. Traditional definitions and formulations of total, matric, and osmotic suction suggest incorrect pore fluid pressures under certain conditions. In this paper, the notion of suction is revisited by deriving an expression for pore fluid pressure in a simple osmotic, capillary tube using the framework of mixture theory in conjunction with the fundamental laws of thermodynamics. Based on the derived expression for the tube, expressions are derived for total, matric, and osmotic suction for partially saturated geomaterials. Particular attention is given to osmotic suction since confusion regarding its mechanisms has apparently contributed to its misapplication in geomechanics. The new expressions derived herein adequately explain behavior that is incorrectly explained by the traditional formulations and unifies two approaches to modeling osmotic suction previously considered to be in contradiction. 2011 Springer Basel AG.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Grasley, Z. C., & Rajagopal, K. R.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Grasley, Zachary C||Rajagopal, Kumbakonam R

publication date

  • April 2012