3rd Edition

Soil Mechanics Concepts and Applications, Third Edition

By William Powrie Copyright 2014
    682 Pages 438 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

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    Instead of fixating on formulae, Soil Mechanics: Concepts and Applications, Third Edition focuses on the fundamentals. This book describes the mechanical behaviour of soils as it relates to the practice of geotechnical engineering. It covers both principles and design, avoids complex mathematics whenever possible, and uses simple methods and ideas to build a framework to support and accommodate more complex problems and analysis.

    The third edition includes new material on site investigation, stress-dilatancy, cyclic loading, non-linear soil behaviour, unsaturated soils, pile stabilization of slopes, soil/wall stiffness and shallow foundations.

    Other key features of the Third Edition:

    • Makes extensive reference to real case studies to illustrate the concepts described

    • Focuses on modern soil mechanics principles, informed by relevant research

    • Presents more than 60 worked examples

    • Provides learning objectives, key points, and self-assessment and learning questions for each chapter

    • Includes an accompanying solutions manual for lecturers

    This book serves as a resource for undergraduates in civil engineering and as a reference for practising geotechnical engineers.

    Origin and classification of soils

    Introduction: what is soil mechanics?

    Structure of the earth

    Origin of soils

    Soil mineralogy

    Phase relationships for soils

    Unit weight

    Effective stress

    Particle size distributions

    Soil filters

    Soil description

    Index tests and classification of clay soils


    Houses built on clay

    Key points

    Self-assessment and Learning Questions

    Origins and mineralogy of soils

    Phase relationships, unit weight and calculation of effective stresses

    Particle size analysis and soil filters

    Index tests and classification




    Soil strength


    Stress analysis

    Soil strength


    Shearbox or direct shear apparatus

    Presentation of shearbox test data in engineering units

    Volume changes during shear

    Critical states

    Peak strengths and dilation

    Shearbox tests on clays


    Stress states in the shearbox test

    Simple shear apparatus

    Key points

    Self-assessment and learning questions

    Shearbox test

    Development of a critical state model

    Determination of peak strengths

    Use of strength data to calculate friction pile load capacity

    Stress analysis and interpretation of shearbox test data


    Groundwater flow and control


    Pore water pressures in the ground

    Darcy’s law and soil permeability

    Laboratory measurement of permeability

    Field measurement of permeability

    Permeability of laminated soils

    Mathematics of groundwater flow

    Plane flow

    Confined flownets

    Calculation of pore water pressures using flownets


    Unconfined flownets

    Distance of influence

    Soils with anisotropic permeability

    Zones of different permeability

    Boundary conditions for flow into drains

    Application of well pumping formulae to construction dewatering

    Numerical methods

    Groundwater control

    Unsaturated soils

    Key points

    Self-assessment and learning questions

    Laboratory measurement of permeability; fluidisation; layered soils

    Well pumping test for field measurement of permeability

    Confined flownets and quicksand

    Unconfined flownet

    Flownets in anisotropic soils



    One-dimensional compression and consolidation

    Introduction and objectives

    One-dimensional compression: the oedometer test

    One-dimensional consolidation

    Properties of isochrones

    One-dimensional consolidation: solution using parabolic isochrones

    Determining the consolidation coefficient cv from oedometer test data

    Application of consolidation testing and theory to field problems

    One-dimensional consolidation: exact solutions

    Radial drainage

    Limitations of the simple models for the behaviour of soils in one-dimensional compression and consolidation

    Key points

    Self-assessment and learning questions

    Analysis and interpretation of one-dimensional compression test data

    Analysis of data from the consolidation phase

    Application of one-dimensional compression and consolidation theory to field problems



    Triaxial test and soil behaviour


    Triaxial test

    Stress parameters

    Stress analysis of the triaxial test

    Determining the effective angle of shearing resistance φ′ from triaxial shear tests

    Undrained shear strengths of clay soils

    Isotropic compression and swelling

    Specimen preparation by one-dimensional compression and swelling: K consolidation

    Conditions imposed in shear tests

    Critical states


    State paths during shear: normally consolidated and lightly overconsolidated clays

    Peak strengths

    Residual strength

    Sensitive soils

    Correlation of critical state parameters with index tests



    Unsaturated soils

    Critical state model applied to sands

    Non-linear soil models

    Repeated or cyclic loading

    Key points

    Self-assessment and learning questions

    Interpretation of triaxial test results

    Determination of critical state and Cam clay parameters

    Analysis and prediction of state paths using Cam clay concepts



    Calculation of soil settlements using elasticity methods


    Selection of elastic parameters

    Boussinesq’s solution

    Newmark’s chart and estimation of vertical stress

    Settlements due to surface loads and foundations

    Influence factors for stress

    Standard solutions for surface settlements on an isotropic, homogeneous, elastic half-space

    Estimation of immediate settlements

    Effect of heterogeneity

    Cross-coupling of shear and volumetric effects due to anisotropy

    Key points

    Self-assessment and learning questions

    Determining elastic parameters from laboratory test data

    Calculation of increases in vertical effective stress below a surface surcharge

    Calculation of increases in vertical effective stress and resulting soil settlements

    Use of standard formulae in conjunction with one-dimensional consolidation theory


    Plasticity and limit equilibrium methods for earth pressures and retaining walls

    Engineering plasticity

    Upper and lower bounds (safe and unsafe solutions)

    Failure criteria for soils

    Retaining walls

    Calculation of limiting lateral earth pressures

    Development of simple stress field solutions for a propped embedded cantilever retaining wall

    Soil/wall friction

    Mechanism-based kinematic and equilibrium solutions for gravity retaining walls

    Reinforced soil walls

    Compaction stresses behind backfilled walls

    Key points

    Self-assessment and learning questions

    Calculation of lateral earth pressures and prop loads

    Stress field limit equilibrium analysis of an embedded retaining wall

    Mechanism-based limit equilibrium analysis of retaining walls

    Reinforced soil retaining walls

    Compaction stresses


    Foundations and slopes

    Introduction and objectives

    Shallow strip foundations (footings): simple lower bound (safe) solutions

    Simple upper bound (unsafe) solutions for shallow strip footings

    Bearing capacity enhancement factors to account for foundation shape and depth, and soil weight

    Shallow foundations subjected to horizontal and moment loads

    Simple piled foundations: ultimate axial loads of single piles

    . -crit or-peak

    Pile groups and piled rafts

    Lateral loads on piles

    Introductory slope stability: the infinite slope

    Analysis of a more general slope

    Laterally loaded piles for slope stabilisation

    Key points

    Self-assessment and learning questions

    Shallow foundations

    Deep foundations

    Laterally loaded piles



    In-ground retaining structures: embedded walls and tunnels

    Introduction and objectives

    Earth pressure coefficients taking account of shear stresses at the soil/wall interface

    Limit equilibrium calculations for embedded retaining walls and ultimate limit state design

    Calculation of bending moments and prop loads: serviceability limit states

    Embedded walls retaining clay soils

    Geostructural mechanism to estimate wall movements

    Effect of relative soil: wall stiffness

    Strip loads

    Multi-propped embedded walls


    Key points

    Self-assesment and learning questions

    Embedded retaining walls and ULS design




    Calculation of improved bearing capacity factors and earth pressure coefficients using plasticity methods

    Introduction and objectives

    Stress discontinuities and their use to calculate improved bearing capacity factors for a shallow foundation subjected to a vertical load: effective stress (φ′) analysis

    Stress discontinuities and their use to calculate improved bearing capacity factors for a shallow foundation subjected to a vertical load: total stress (τu) analysis

    Application to stress analysis

    Shallow foundations subjected to inclined loads

    Calculation of earth pressure coefficients for rough retaining walls

    Sloping backfill

    Wall with a sloping (battered) back

    Improved upper bounds for shallow foundations

    Key points

    Self assesment and learning questions

    Bearing capacity of foundations

    Retaining walls and earth pressures


    Site investigation, in situ testing and modelling

    Introduction and objectives

    Site investigation

    In situ testing


    Ground improvement

    Key points

    Self-assessment and learning questions

    In situ testing


    Ground improvement





    William Powrie FREng is Professor of Geotechnical Engineering and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton, UK. He has extensive practical experience on projects and is Geotechnical Consultant to WJ Groundwater Ltd.

    "… a very well thought out and useful publication."
    —Building Engineer

    About the previous edition:
    "One of, if not the best, currently available. It is quite unique and very well composed".
    —W E Wilson, consulting engineer, Nashville Tennessee