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This book is about the behaviour of engineering soils and simple geotechnical structures such as foundations and slopes and it covers most of the theoretical geotechnical engineering content of a degree course in civil engineering. The book is aimed primarily at students taking first degree courses in civil engineering but it should also appeal to engineers, engineering geologists and postgraduate students wishing for a simple and straightforward introduction to the current theories of soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering.
Although it deals specifically with soils and soil mechanics many of the theories and methods described apply also to rocks and rock mechanics. The teaching and practice of geotechnical engineering has undergone significant changes in the past 25 years or so, both in the development of new theories and practices and in the standing of the subject within the civil engineering curriculum. Geotechnical engineering is now regarded as one of the major disciplines in civil engineering analysis (the others being hydraulics and structures).
The most important development, however, has been the unification of shearing and volumetric effects in soil mechanics in the theories known generally as critical state soil mechanics and application of these theories in geotechnical analysis. In this book, unlike most of the other contemporary books on soil mechanics, the subject is developed using the unified theories right from the start, and theories for stability of foundations and slopes are developed through the upper and lower bound plasticity methods as well as the more commonly used limit equilibrium method.
This is an up-to-date approach to soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering and it provides a simple and logical framework for teaching the basic principles of the subject. The term ‘critical state soil mechanics’ means different things to different people. Some take critical state soil mechanics to include the complete mathematical model known as Cam Clay and they would say that this is too advanced for an undergraduate course.
My view is much simpler, and by critical state soil mechanics I mean the combination of shear stress, normal stress and volume into a single unifying framework. In this way a much clearer idea emerges of the behaviour of normally consolidated and overconsolidated soils during drained and undrained loading up to, and including, the ultimate or critical states.
It is the relationship between the initial states and the critical states that largely determines soil behaviour. This simple framework is extremely useful for teaching and learning about soil mechanics and it leads to a number of simple analyses for stability of slopes, walls and foundations. This book is based on courses of lectures given to undergraduate students in civil engineering at City University.
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