Mineral dissolution and solid-liquid phase change may cause settlement or affect the bearing capacity of shallow foundations. The effect of gradual grain dissolution on small-scale shallow foundation behavior is investigated using the discrete element method. Results show that dissolution is most detrimental during early stages, as initially contacting particles shrink and force chains must reform throughout the medium. Porosity tends to increase during dissolution and force chains evolve into strong localized forces with a honeycomb topology. Higher settlements are required to mobilize bearing resistance in postdissolution sediments than in pre-dissolution ones. Subsurface mineral dissolution beneath a footing under load is the worst condition; in fact, settlements in such cases are higher than when a foundation load is applied on a sediment that has already experienced dissolution. © the author(s) or their institution(s).