1.361 | Fall 2004 | Graduate

Advanced Soil Mechanics


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


Technology that deals with soil (and rock) as an engineering material in civil engineering projects.

Examples of Application Areas

  1. Foundations  

    • “shallow” e.g., spread footings for buildings
    • “deep” e.g., piles for offshore platform
  2. Earth Structures  

    • Compacted earth fill for dam
    • Landfill for waste storage
  3. Slopes and Excavations  

    • Cut slopes for highway
    • Excavation for subway
  4. Retaining Structures  

    • Slurry wall with tieback anchors
    • Gravity retaining wall
  5. Remediation of Contaminated Soil and Groundwater

Types of Input Required to Solve Above Problems (for Soil)

  1. Geology and Exploration: General nature and extent of soils involved
  2. Soil Mechanics: Evaluation of Engineering Properties of soils and Theoretical Analyses to predict behavior of “structure”
  3. Feasibility: Economics, environmental, legal, practical
  4. Experience: Regarding what has happened in the past - successes and failures
  5. Field Evaluation: Measurements of actual performance to evaluate and possibly alter design during construction
  6. Engineering Judgment: Combined with above - final solution (increasing use of reliability analyses to “formalize” process)

What Makes Soil Mechanics Interesting and Challenging (CCL’s opinion)

Soil amongst most variable and difficult of all materials to understand and model

  1. Complex stress-strain (non-linear, irreversible)
  2. Properties highly variable function of soil types and stress history
  3. Properties change with time, stress, environment, …
  4. Every site has different soil conditions - new challenge
  5. Soil “hidden” underground and data on small fraction of deposit

Emphasis on testing (in field and in lab) plus field monitoring




Geotechnical / Geoenvironmental Engineering

Conduct of Subject


Nature of Soil

Soil Composition, Index Properties, Soil Classification

Soil Structure: Clay-Water Forces, Interparticle Forces, Fabric

Environmental Factors


Dry Soil (Cohesionless)

Mohr Circle, Stress Paths, Elastic Stress Distribution

Stress-Strain and Strength Behavior of Sand

Rankine Earth Pressures, Infinite Slopes, Retaining Walls

Bearing Capacity of Sands (Theory and Practice)

Settlement of Sands


Saturated Soil (No or Steady State Flow)

Effective Stress Principle, Capillarity, Soil Suction

One- and Two-Dimensional Flow

Coefficient of Permeability (Theory and Practice)

Stress-Strain and Strength Behavior of Clays  
1-D Behavior (Theory and Practice)  
Drained Shear Behavior, Strength Principles

Lateral Earth Pressures

Slope Stability and Bearing Capacity


Saturated Soil (Transient Flow)

Pore Pressure Parameters, Undrained Shear Behavior of Clays, and Strength Principles

Consolidation of Cohesive Soils  
Terzaghi Theory  
LC Compression  
Special Topics

Evaluation of Stability (Loading vs. Unloading and Undrained vs. Drained Conditions)

Estimation of Undrained Strength for Design

Settlement Analyses for 2, 3-D Loadings

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2004