Publication Details

Pathirage, U., Indraratna, B., Pallewattha, M. & Heitor, A. (2019). A theoretical model for total suction effects by tree roots. Environmental Geotechnics, 6 (6), 353-360.


Strengthening soft and weak soil by way of root reinforcement is a well-known strategy that is adopted worldwide. In Australia, native gum trees remain evergreen throughout the year and have been utilised to stabilise transportation corridors by way of reinforcement provided by the roots and the suction generated within the root domain as a function of evapotranspiration through the canopy. A mature gum tree can induce a missive total suction pressure exceeding 30MPa through its root water and solute uptake in terms of matric plus osmotic suction. This cumulative effect of matric and osmotic suctions contributes to the overall shear strength of the soil, but the significant osmotic suction is often ignored in classical geotechnical engineering that does not consider the presence of trees. This study is an attempt to demonstrate the important role of osmotic suction, because it is directly proportional to the solute concentration in the soil and the solute uptake mechanisms of the surrounding vegetated ground.



Link to publisher version (DOI)