Macroscopic frictional slip in water-saturated granular media occurs commonly during landsliding, surface faulting, and intense bedload transport. A mathematical model of dynamic pore-pressure fluctuations that accompany and influence such sliding is derived here by both inductive and deductive methods. The inductive derivation shows how the governing differential equations represent the physics of the steadily sliding array of cylindrical fiberglass rods investigated experimentally by Iverson and LaHusen (1989). The deductive derivation shows how the same equations result from a novel application of Biot's (1956) dynamic mixture theory to macroscopic deformation. The model consists of two linear differential equations and five initial and boundary conditions that govern solid displacements and pore-water pressures. Solid displacements and water pressures are strongly coupled, in part through a boundary condition that ensures mass conservation during irreversible pore deformation that occurs along the bumpy slip surface. Feedback between this deformation and the pore-pressure field may yield complex system responses. The dual derivations of the model help explicate key assumptions. For example, the model requires that the dimensionless parameter B, defined here through normalization of Biot's equations, is much larger than one. This indicates that solid-fluid coupling forces are dominated by viscous rather than inertial effects. A tabulation of physical and kinematic variables for the rod-array experiments of Iverson and LaHusen and for various geologic phenomena shows that the model assumptions commonly are satisfied. A subsequent paper will describe model tests against experimental data. ?? 1993 International Association for Mathematical Geology.