What is it about?

A numerical model that allows the study of desiccation and cracking in soil is implemented in MATLAB. The code based on the Finite Element Method reproduces the behaviour study at the laboratory. A better understanding of this complex process is possible due to the effectiveness of the model and examples analysed.

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Why is it important?

In the last century of so, the process of desiccation and development of cracks in clayey soils was studied but a general framework and theory to understand the process is yet to be proposed. Several attempts were made using all sorts of techniques. This approach uses the classical equations of unsaturated soil mechanics plus concepts of fracture mechanics that allow the implementation of a code able to reproduce the behavior during the process of desiccation in the laboratory and the field.


Writing this paper was possible only because I have studied this problem from an experimental and numerical point of view. The big challenge was to first develop the skills required to implement a numerical model in MATLAB and have the appropriate set of laboratory data to validate the model.

Dr Héctor U. Levatti
London South Bank University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Numerical and experimental study of initiation and propagation of desiccation cracks in clayey soils, Computers and Geotechnics, January 2019, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.compgeo.2018.09.015.
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