Introduction to Soil Mechanics
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The term "soil" can have different meanings, depending upon the field in which it is considered.

To a geologist, it is the material in the relative thin zone of the Earth's surface within which roots occur, and which are formed as the products of past surface processes. The rest of the crust is grouped under the term "rock".

To a pedologist, it is the substance existing on the surface, which supports plant life.

To an engineer, it is a material that can be:

  • built on: foundations of buildings, bridges
  • built in: basements, culverts, tunnels
  • built with: embankments, roads, dams
  • supported: retaining walls

Soil Mechanics is a discipline of Civil Engineering involving the study of soil, its behaviour and application as an engineering material.

Soil Mechanics is the application of laws of mechanics and hydraulics to engineering problems dealing with sediments and other unconsolidated accumulations of solid particles, which are produced by the mechanical and chemical disintegration of rocks, regardless of whether or not they contain an admixture of organic constituents.

Soil consists of a multiphase aggregation of solid particles, water, and air. This fundamental composition gives rise to unique engineering properties, and the description of its mechanical behavior requires some of the most classic principles of engineering mechanics.

Engineers are concerned with soil's mechanical properties: permeability, stiffness, and strength. These depend primarily on the nature of the soil grains, the current stress, the water content and unit weight.

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