Soil Mechanics : Concepts and Applications, Third Edition book cover
3rd Edition

Soil Mechanics
Concepts and Applications, Third Edition

ISBN 9781466552098
Published November 1, 2013 by CRC Press
682 Pages 438 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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




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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