Photo of J. Kenneth Torrance

J. Kenneth Torrance

Professor Emeritus

Degrees:B.S.A Guelph, M.S., Ph.D. Cornell


My personal and academic experiences have been dominated by a love of the land (soil). I grew up on a farm in Dufferin County, Ontario, graduated from the Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph, and obtained M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Soil Science (pursuing research on soil freezing) from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. This was followed by post-doctoral study at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, Oslo, Norway where I applied my soils knowledge to problems of landslides in post-glacial marine sediments.

My recent research has been directed towards two main questions: the role of chemical and mineralogical factors in determining the geotechnical behaviour of the sensitive, landslide-prone, post-glacial, marine sediments (quick clays); and questions of agricultural sustainability, with particular reference to the humid tropics.

Research Interests

Applied clay mineralogy: Chemical, mineralogical, and physical influences on the geotechnical behavior of clay soils with special reference to the post-glacial marine clays and the influence of oxide minerals in soils.

Agricultural sustainability: with particular reference to tropical agriculture.

Recent Publications

J. K. Torrance (2012), Landslides in quick clay. In: J. J. Clague and D. Stead (eds) Landslides: Types, Mechanisms and Modeling, Cambridge University Press, 83-94.

A. Teshome, D. Patterson, Z. Asfaw, J.K. Torrance and J.T. Arnason, (2007) Changes in sorghum landrace diversity and farmers’ selection criteria over space and time. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution,

J.K. Torrance and F.J. Schellekens (2006) Chemical factors in soil freezing and frost heave. Polar Record, 42, 33-42.

Y. Andersson-Sköld, J.K.Torrance, R. Stevens; B. Lind; K. Rankka; K. Odén, (2005) Quick clay – A Case Study of Chemical Perspective in Southwest Sweden. Engineering Geology, 82, 107-118.

M. Geertsema and J.K. Torrance (2005) Quick clay from the Mink Creek landslide near Terrace, British Columbia: geotechnical properties, mineralogy, and geochemistry. Canadian Geotechncal Journal, 42, 907-918.

F. Kondo and J.K. Torrance (2005) Effects of smectite, salinity and water content on sedimentation and self-weight consolidation of thoroughly disturbed soft marine clay. Paddy Water Environments, 3, 155-164.

J.K. Torrance and R. Kirkpatrick (2004) Detrital ooids of Holocene age in glaciomarine Champlain Sea sediments, Gatineau, Québec, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 41, 765-773.


  • Soil Science Society of America
  • Clay Mineral Society