What is a consolidation?

The process in which gradual reduction in the volume of soil mass occurs under sustained loading and is primarily due to expulsion of pore water is known as consolidation.

It is a time-dependent phenomenon, especially in clays and it is continuous for a long time. It is the property of fine-grained soil because the fine-grained soil mass has a large void ratio and higher water content.

The total compression of saturated clay strata under excessive effective pressure may be considered as the sum of;

  1. Immediate compression

The portion of the settlement of a structure that occurs more or less simultaneously with applied loads is referred to as initial or immediate compression.

  1. Primary consolidation

If the rate of compression of the soil layer is controlled solely by the resistance of the flow of water under the induced hydraulic gradients, the process is referred to as primary consolidation. 

  1. Secondary consolidation

Once the excess pore water becomes zero that is excess pore pressure gets fully dissipated, the primary compression under the applied stress ends. It is found in practice that some compression takes place even after the primary compression has stopped.

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