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Soil Mechanics (Richard Brachman)

Soil Mechanics (Richard Brachman)

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03/18/2014

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Introduction to Soils
CivE 381
1
1. INTRODUCTION TO SOIL MATERIALS
1.1 Definitions
Soil:
\u2022 uncemented or weakly cemented accumulation of mineral and organic particles and
sediments found above the bedrock, or
\u2022 anyunc ons olid a t ed
material consisting of discrete solid particles with fluid or gas in
the voids
Rock:
\u2022 indurated (consolidated by
pressure or cement at ion) material requiring drilling,
blasting, brute force excavation

The dividing line between soil and rock is arbitrary; the same material may sometimes be either
classified as \u201cvery soft rock\u201d or \u201cvery hard soil\u201d, depending on who classifies the material or
what the application is. To a geologist \u201cour\u201d soil is drift or unconsolidated material.

Whereas we are concerned with soil to the depth of bedrock, soil scientists (pedology) and
agricultural scientists (agronomists) are concerned with only the very uppermost layers of soil.
Soil Mechanics: (ASTM) the application of the laws and principles of mechanics and hydraulics
to engineering problems dealing with soil as an engineering material.
Geotechnical Engineering: the application of civil engineering technology to some aspect of the
earth, therefore including soil and rock as engineering materials. It combines the basic physical
sciences, geology, pedology with hydraulic, structural, transportation, construction,
environmental and mining engineering.
Soil mechanics is a subset of geotechnical engineering.
1.2 Origin of Soils
Soil is a three phase system of:
-solid part icles
- pore fluid
- pore gas
Most solid particles are mineral fragments that originated from the disintegration of rocks by
physical or chemical action, often referred to aswea t her i ng.
Physical
Weathering: erosion due to freezing & thawing, abrasion from glaciers, temperature
changes, and the activity of plants and animals.
Chemical
Weathering: decomposition due to oxidation, reduction, carbonation, and other
chemical processes.
Introduction to Soils
CivE 381
2
Exceptions: Peat (organic) and shell deposits
Soils at a particular site can be:
-Residual
or weathered in place (most common in tropical locations), or
-Transport ed
by the action of:
Glaciers (glacial)
Moving water (fluvial)
Wind (aeolian)

Settling out in salt water (marine)
Settling out in fresh water (lactustrine)
Due to gravity movement downslope (colluvial)
(most common in temperate regions)

1.3 Main Types of Soils
Granular:
gravel, sand, (silt )
Cohesive:
(silt ), clay
Organic:
marsh soil, peat , coal, t ar sand
Man-Made:mine t ailings, landfill wast e, ash, aggregat es
Soils can vary from 102 to 10-3 mm in diameter.
Naturally occurring soils are usually a mixture of two or more of the above components.
(e.g., silt y-sand, clayey-silt , clay wit h gravel)
In addition, the void space between the slid particles may be filled with either pore fluid gas.
1.4 The Unique Nature of Soil Material
\u2022 highly variable
- properties vary widely from point to point within the soil mass
- more heterogeneous rather than homogeneous
- large variations over small distances
Introduction to Soils
CivE 381
3
\u2022 nonlinear stress-strain response
\u2022 nonconservative (i.e. inelastic)
- soils \u201cremember\u201d what has happened to them in the past
- stress hist ory is very import ant
- soil behaviour is quite different whether normally consolidated or
overconsolidated (CivE381)
\u2022 anisotropic
- different properties in different directions
- primarily a result of deposit ional and loading hist ory
\u2022 mulitphase system (soil, water, and air)
\u2022 empirical application in design
- empirical - based on experience \u2013 what we can see / what we can measure
- good design - combination of art , science and common sense

The behavior of soil in situ is often governed by soil fabric, weak layers and zones, and other
defects in the material. It is therefore essential that the successful geotechnical engineer
develops a feel for the soil behavior.

Generally we idealize the behavior using applied mechanics concepts, and then apply
engineering judgement (based on our own experience and the experience of others) to come up
with a final solution.

Because the soil is so complex, it is difficult to deal with as an engineering material. It is
necessary to be able toCLA S S IFY
CLASSIFY the soil based on ENGINEERING BEHAVIOUR
ENGINEERING BEHAVIOUR.

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