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What is Creep in Soil Mechanics?

Soil creep can be defined as a slow process of erosion or tendency to erode on downhill slopes due to the development of shear and volumetric strains caused by vegetation, soil creatures and gravity force acting on the soil layer.

Soil is gradually stirred by soil creatures and burrowing animals that decreases the cohesive interaction between soil particles and make them prone to erosion, especially on downhill slopes. The growing and uprooting action of vegetation growing in the soil layer accompanied by the alternate freezing-thawing and wetting-drying cycles disturbs the normal soil structure and increases the chances of erosion.

Soil layers on downhill slopes are affected by gravity force along the slope that increases the chance of soil creep and erosion. Soil erosion is a quick process whereas the effects of soil creep are quite gradual that may not only erode the soil over time but also cause sudden settlements and slope failure due to shear failure.