Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Vahedifard, Farshid

Committee Member

Peters, John F.

Committee Member

Yarahmadian, Shantia

Committee Member

Bhatia, Manav

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


There has been an increasing interest in fundamental and applied research on emerging geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering applications that pose multi-physics problems involving non-isothermal processes in unsaturated soils. Properly studying these problems requires the development of analytical models to describe the constitutive behavior of unsaturated soils under non-isothermal conditions. However, major gaps remain in the development of unified models that can properly represent the temperature dependency of unsaturated soil behavior. The effects of temperature on the stability of slopes, lateral earth pressure, and pile resistance in unsaturated soils are also not well understood. The main objective of this study is to provide new insight and robust tools to characterize and model the temperature-dependent behavior of unsaturated soils. For this purpose, novel unified models are developed for soil water retention curve, effective stress, thermal conductivity function, and small-strain shear modulus for unsaturated soils at elevated temperatures. The models are proposed by establishing or extending the unified model at isothermal conditions to nonisothermal conditions. The fundamental and main variable in all unified models is capillary pressure (also referred to as matric suction). The effect of temperature is considered on adsorption and capillarity as a function of water-air surface tension, soil-water contact angle, and enthalpy of immersion. The proposed models are verified by comparing them with experimental data reported in the literature and measurements made in this study. Overall results of the proposed models show an excellent predictive capability. Furthermore, the parametric study is conducted to understand the effect of different parameters such as soil type, temperature, drainage conditions, and among others on hydraulic and mechanical properties of unsaturated soil. Finally, the proposed models are incorporated into geotechnical applications such as slope stability, lateral earth pressure, and pile resistance involving unsaturated conditions and elevated temperatures. The variation of temperature in unsaturated soils for these applications can be notable and cannot be ignored in the design and analysis. The proposed formulations can also be readily incorporated into analytical solutions and numerical simulations of thermo-hydro-mechanical processes in unsaturated soils. The findings of the study can facilitate using numerical models to simulate various non-isothermal applications including geo-energy systems and soil-atmospheric interaction problems.



Unsaturated soils||Temperature||Constitutive models||Slope stability||Lateral earth pressure||Energy pile