Soil is not a coherent solid material like steel and concrete, but is a particulate material. Soils, as they exist in nature, consist of solid particles (mineral grains, rock fragments) with water and air in the voids between the particles. The water and air contents are readily changed by changes in ambient conditions and location.
As the relative proportions of the three phases vary in any soil deposit, it is useful to consider a soil model which will represent these phases distinctly and properly quantify the amount of each phase. A schematic diagram of the three-phase system is shown in terms of weight and volume symbols respectively for soil solids, water, and air. The weight of air can be neglected.
The soil model is given dimensional values for the solid, water and air components.
Total volume, V = Vs + Vw + Vv