Soil Mechanics Fundamentals by Muni Budhu
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Soil Mechanics Fundamentals by Muni Budhu

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Author of Soil Mechanics Fundamentals PDF

MUNIRAM (Muni) BUDHU is a Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He received his BSc (First Class Honors) in Civil Engineering from the University of the West Indies and his Ph.D. in Soil Mechanics from Cambridge University, England.

Prior to joining the University of Arizona, Dr. Budhu served on the faculty at the University of Guyana, Guyana; McMaster University, Canada; and the State University of New York at Buffalo.

He spent sabbaticals as a Visiting Professor at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University; Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich); and the University of Western Australia.

He authored and co-authored many technical papers on various civil engineering and engineering mechanics topics including soil mechanics, foundation engineering, numerical modeling, hydraulic engineering, and engineering education.

Dr. Budhu has developed interactive animations for learning various topics in soil mechanics and foundation engineering, fluid mechanics, statics, and interactive virtual labs. He is the co-founder of YourLabs, developer of a knowledge evaluation system (

Dr. Budhu has authored two other textbooks, Soil Mechanics and Foundations and Foundations and Earth Retaining Structures. Both books are available from John Wiley & Sons (

Soil Mechanics Fundamentals Contents

  • Composition and Particle Sizes of Soils
  • Phase Relationships, Physical Soil States, and Soil Classification
  • Soils Investigation
  • One- and Two-Dimensional Flows of Water Through Soils
  • Soil Compaction
  • Stresses from Surface Loads and the Principle of Effective Stress
  • Soil Settlement
  • Soil Strength

Preface to Soil Mechanics Fundamentals eBook

My intent in writing this textbook is to present accessible, clear, concise, and contemporary course content for the first course in soil mechanics to meet the needs of undergraduates not only in civil engineering but also in construction, mining, geological engineering, and related disciplines.

However, this textbook is not meant to be an engineering design manual nor a cookbook. It is structured to provide the user with a learning outcome that is a solid foundation on key soil mechanics principles for application in a later foundation engineering course and in engineering practice.

By studying with this textbook, students will acquire a contemporary understanding of the physical and mechanical properties of soils. They will be engaged in the presentation of these properties, in discussions and guidance on the fundamentals of soil mechanics.

They will attain the problem-solving skills and background knowledge that will prepare them to think critically, make good decisions, and engage in lifelong learning.

The primary unit of measure used in this textbook is the US customary system of units. However, ASTM standards require certain tests, for example, for particle sizes of soils, to be conducted using SI units (International System of units). Therefore, wherever necessary, SI units are used. An SI version of this textbook is also available. 

Contemporary methods: The text presents, discusses, and demonstrates contemporary ideas and methods of interpreting the physical and mechanical properties of soils that students will encounter as practicing engineers.

In order to strike a balance between theory and practical applications for an introductory course in soil mechanics, the mechanics are kept to a minimum so that students can appreciate the background, assumptions, and limitations of the theories in use in the field.

The implications of the key ideas are discussed to provide students with an understanding of the context for the applications of these ideas. A modern explanation of soil behavior is presented particularly in soil settlement and soil strength. These are the foremost topics in the practice of geotechnical engineering.

Onedimensional consolidation is presented in the context of soil settlement rather than as a separate topic (Chapter 7). The shear strength of soils is presented using contemporary thinking and approach. In particular, three popular failure criteria—Coulomb, Mohr-Coulomb, and Tresca—are discussed with regard to their applications and limitations.

Students will be able to understand how to use these criteria to properly interpret soil test results and understand the differences between drained and undrained shear strength. Some common applications of soil mechanics principles are presented to introduce students to and to inform them about the practical importance of studying soil mechanics.

Pedagogy and design directed by modern learning theory: The content and presentation of the chapters are informed by modern theories of how students learn, especially with regard to metacognition. Learning outcomes listed at the beginning of each chapter inform students what knowledge and skills they are expected to gain from the chapter. These form the bases for the problems at the end of each chapter.

By measuring students’ performance on the problems, an instructor can evaluate whether the learning outcomes have been satisfied.

Definitions of key terms at the beginning of each chapter define key terms and variables that will be used in the chapter. Key points summaries throughout each chapter emphasize for students the most important points in the material they have just read.

Practical examples at the end of some chapters give students an opportunity to see how the prior and current principles are integrated to solve “real-world type” problems. The students will learn how to find solutions for a “system” rather than a solution for a “component” of the system.

Consistent problem-solving strategy: Students generally have difficulty in translating a word problem into the steps and equations they need to use to solve it. They typically can’t read a problem and understand what they need to do to solve it.

This text provides and models consistent strategies to help students approach, analyze, and solve any problem. Example problems are solved by first developing a strategy and then stepping through the solution, identifying equations, and checking whether the results are reasonable as appropriate.

Three categories conceptual understanding, problem-solving, and critical thinking and decision making—of problems are delineated at the end of the chapter to assess students’ knowledge mastery. These are not strict categories.

In fact, the skills required in each category are intermixed. Problems within the conceptual understanding category are intended to assess the understanding of key concepts and may contain problems to engage lateral thinking. It is expected that the instructor may add additional problems as needed.

Problems within the problem-solving category are intended to assess problem-solving skills and procedural fluency in the applications of the concepts and principles in the chapter. Problems within the critical thinking and decision-making category are intended to assess the student’s analytical skills, lateral thinking, and the ability to make good decisions.

These problems have practical biases and require an understanding of the fundamentals. Engineers are required to make decisions, often with limited data. Practical experience is a key contributor to good decisions.

Because students will invariably not have the practical experience, they will have to use the fundamentals of soil mechanics, typical ranges of values for soils, and their cognitive skills to address problems within the critical thinking and decision-making category.

The instructors can include additional materials to help the students develop critical thinking and decision-making skills. Knowledge mastery assessment software. This textbook is integrated with YourLabs™ Knowledge Evaluation System (KES) (

This system automatically grades students’ solutions to the end of chapter problems. It allows students to answer the problems anywhere on any mobile device (smartphone, iPad, etc.) or any desktop computing device (PC, MAC, etc.).

After answering each question in an assignment set by the instructor on KES, the student’s answer (or answers to multi-parts problems) is compared to the correct answer (or answers in multi-parts problems) and scored.

The student must step through the solution for each problem and answer preset queries to assess concept understanding, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and procedural fluency. KES then analyzes the feedback from students immediately after submitting their responses and displays the analytics to the students and the instructor.

The analytics inform the instructor what the students know and don’t know, at what steps, and the types of mistakes made during problem-solving. The instructor can re-teach what the students did not know in a timely manner and identify at-risk students.

The analytics are also displayed to the student to self-reflect on his/her performance and take corrective action.

Relevant instructional materials are linked to each problem, so the student can self-learn the materials either before or upon completion of the problem. Instructors can modify the questions and assets (links or embedded videos, images, customized instructional materials, etc.)

and, at each step of the solution, add or delete solution steps, or create a customized question. Each problem can be tagged with any standard required by academic or professional organizations.

The analytics, as well as students’ scores, are aggregated from the problem to assignment and to class or course levels.

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