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According to Ralph Pech:

Soil Engineering is an Art
Soil Mechanics is an Engineering Science

Three Attributes of a Successful Soil Engineer:

Knowledge of Precedents (Experience)
F ili it with
Familiarity ith Soil
S il Mechanics
M h i
Working Knowledge of Geology

Purpose of this Course: To Familiarize the Student with

the Fundamental Principles of Soil Mechanics
The Solution of Soil
g g Problem
Complicating Characteristics of Soil

1) Soil does not possess a linear or unique stress-strain

2) S il b
Soil behavior
h i d dependsd on pressures, titime, and d environment.
i t
3) The soil at essentially every location is different.
4) I nearly
In l allll cases th
the mass off soilil iinvolved
l d iis underground
d d
and cannot be seen in its entirety but must be evaluated on the
basis of small samples obtained from isolated locationslocations.
5) Most soils are very sensitive to disturbance from sampling, and
thus the behavior measured by a laboratory test may be
unlike that of the in situ soil.

Nearly all soil problems are statically indeterminate to high

Applications in Soil Engineering

1) Analysis and Design of Earth Structures such as Dams and Embankments

2) Stability of Artificial and Natural Slopes
3) Foundations Supports for Various Structures
4) Lateral Pressures against Various Structures
5) Prediction of Water Movement through the Soil
6) Improvement of Soil Properties by Chemical and Mechanical Methods

Geotechnical Materials

1) Soils are discrete particles derived from rock minerals and have extreme variability
2) Soils are cheap and readily available construction materials
3) Soils support all structures located above and below ground

D fi Project
Define P j t Concept
C t purpose schedule
purpose, schedule, location
location, plans

Site Reconnaissance review of information, site inspection

Subsurface investigations, soil conditions,

Working Hypothesis
g pparameters

Model for Analysis physical, analytical, numerical models

Alternative Schemes evaluate various solutions

cost, benefit, time, reliability, environmental

ifi Recommendations
R d ti
impact, etc.
plans and specifications for recommended
Plans and Specifications
l ti
inspection of construction operations revisions
Supervision and Consultation
off plans
p due to new information

Performance Feedback observe long range performance

Figure 1.1 Examples of Geotechnical Engineering Construction

Figure 1.2 Principles of Mechanics

Fig. 1.3 Branches of Mechanics
used in Geotechnical Engineering

Fig. 1.4 Compression and Distortion

The Particulate Nature
of Soil
“The discrete particles that make up soil are not
strongly bonded together in the way that the crystal of a
metal are, and hence the soil particles are relatively free
to move with respect
p to one another.”
“The soil particles are solid and cannot move relative to
each other as easilyy as the elements in a fluid.”
(Lambe and Whitman, 1979)

It is this basic fact that distinguishes soil mechanics

from solid mechanics and fluid mechanics.
Consequences of the particulate
t off soil
1st consequence:
q Nature of soil deformation
“The deformation of a mass of soil is controlled by interactions
between individual particles, especially by sliding (and also adhesion)
b t
between individual
i di id l particles.
ti l B
Because sliding
lidi iis a nonlinear
li and
irreversible deformation, we must expect that the stress-strain behavior
of soil will be strongly nonlinear and irreversible.”
irreversible. {various constitutive
soil models}

2nd consequence: Role of pore phase -- Chemical interaction

“Soil is inherently multiphase, and the constituents of the pore
h will
ill iinfluence
fl th
the nature
t off th
the mineral
i l surfaces
f and
dhhence affect
ff t
the processes of force transmission at the particle contacts. This
interaction between the p phases is called chemical interaction.” {{double
layer water; plasticity of soils; swelling potential, compression, strength,
fluid conductivity}
Consequences of the particulate
t il (cont
off soil ( t’d)
3rd consequence:
q Role of ppore pphase -- Physical
y interaction
“Water can flow through soil and thus interact with the
mineral skeleton, altering the magnitude of the forces at the
contacts between particles and influencing the compression and
shear resistance of the soil.” {effective stress concept and
consolidation theory}

4th consequence: Role of pore phase – Sharing the load

When the load applied to a soil is suddenly changed
“When changed, this
change is carried jointly by the pore fluid and by the mineral
skeleton. The change in pore pressure will cause water to move
through the soil,
soil hence the properties of the soil will change with
time (hydrodynamic time lag).” {basis of consolidation theory of
Terzaghi, the “father of soil mechanics”. This marked the
b i i off modern
beginning d soilil engineering}
i i }
Soil Forming Process

Definition of Soil
Soil - All materials, organic or inorganic, overlying bedrock
Soil are natural aggregates of mineral grains that can be separated by such gentle
h i l means as agitation
it ti iin water,
t while
hil rocks
k are natural
t l aggregates
t off
minerals connected by strong and permanent cohesive forces.
Based on Origin
Inorganic Soil - derived from chemical and mechanical weathering
Organic Soil - significant parts are derived from growth and decay of plant
a da
animala life
Inorganic Soils
Residual Soil - located at a place where it was formed
Transported Soil - the soil has been moved to another location by gravity,
water or wind
Alluvium – river and stream deposits
p ((very
y heterogeneous
g mixture of g
gravels,, sands,, and
Lacustrine – lake deposits; Marine – salt water deposits (beach, swamps); Deltas – deposits at
mouth of streams and rivers
Wind blown – loess – uniform mixture of silts, fine sands and clays
Nature of Soil

Soil is composed of particles

Coarse-Grained Soils Volume >> Surface Area

(large particles) FRICTION
Gravitational Force governs Behavior


Surface Area >> Volume

Fine-Grained Soils clay
Surface Force (electrical)
(small particles)
DOUBLE governs the behavior

Double layer expands – repulsion
Double layer contracts - attraction
Dispersive Soil
Replace Na+ - Ca++, Mg++

+ +

+ Clay + +
+ +
+ + + Cl
+ +
Na+ +
Farther attraction
repulsion + +
+ +
clay +
Types of Soil
Types of Soil
Origin of Clay Minerals
1) Inheritance. The clay mineral was formed by reactions
that occurred in another area, was transported to its
present site, and is stable enough to remain inert in its
present environment

2) Neoformation.
Neoformation The clay has precipitated from solution
or has formed from reaction of amorphous material.

3) Transformation. An inherited clay has undergone

chemical reaction. Two reactions are possible,
l ion
i exchange
h andd llayer ttransformation.
f ti I
layer transformation, the arrangements of octahedral,
tetrahedral or fixed interlayer cations are modified
tetrahedral, modified.
Importance of Soil Mineralogy in
Geotechnical Engineering
It is a controlling
g factor determining
g the sizes,, shapes,
p , and
surface characteristics of particles in the soil. It determines
interactions with fluid phases. Together, these factors
z Plasticity
z Swelling
z Compression
z Strength
z Fluid conductivity behavior
It is essential when dealing g problems involving g environmental
problems, such as: safe disposal and containment of hazardous
and nuclear wastes; clean up of contaminated sites; and
protection of ground water
water. Compositional characteristics of
soils and their relation to the long-term physical and chemical
properties are of most concerned.
Two fundamental building laws can be noticed with clay minerals

1) Silica – tetrahedron unit 2) Octahedral Unit (with Al+3 or Mg+2)

(one tetrahedron shares 3 oxygens Al (OH)6-3

with other tetrahedrons)
(each OH is shared by 2 Al-ions
(each Si has one O-aton and shares 3
other oxygens – SiO4 – unit has neg.
charge of 1
Basic Structural Unit of Clay Mineral
Basic Silicate Unit: (1) Silicon Tetrahedron

Block Symbol =
Basic Silicate Unit: (2)
Aluminum or Magnesium

Block Symbol =

Gibbsite sheet: if cations are mainly Aluminum

Brucite sheet: if cations are mainly Magnesium
KAOLINITE consists basically of repeating layers of one tetrahedral (silica) sheet and one
octahedral (alumina or gibsite) sheet.

Successive layers are held together by hydrogen bonds between the hydroxyls of the octahedral
sheet and the oxygen of the tetrahedral
tetrahedral. Since the hydrogen bond is very strong
strong, it prevents
hydration and allows the layers to stack up to make up 70 to 100 layers thick.
Halloysite is related to kaoline. It somehow became hydrated between layers causing distortions
and random stacking of the crystal lattice so that it is tubular in shape
shape. The water can be easily
driven out from between layers by heating or air drying and the process is irreversible.
MONTMORILLONITE sometimes called smectite – composed of 2 silica and one alumnica (gibsite)

Because the bonding g by

y van deer Waal’s forces ((common attraction between matter)) between the
tops of the silica sheets is weak and there is a net negative charge deficiency in the octahedral
sheet, water and exchangeable ions can enter and separate the layers – very susceptible to
ILLITE – it has similar structure as montmorillonite but the interlayers are bonded together with a
potassium ions.

Illites have strong bonds of potassium atom that fills

the hexagonal hole

Other minerals: chlorite, vermiculite, etc.

Identification of Clay Minerals

1) X-ray diffraction – crystal structure will
diffract x-rays – compare
2) DTA – heated in electrical furnace and
certain changes in temperature
occur because of particular
structure of the clay minerals
3) El
Electrom microscopy
i – quatitative
i i
4) Use of Plasticity Charts
Table 8 Summarized Properties of Clay-Mineral Groups
Summary of Occurrence of Clay Minerals in Soils

Clay Mineral Group Occurrence

Kaolinite Highly weathered soils with good drainage. Generally
in older soils. Common in tropical and subtropical areas
Chl it
Chlorite Areas off metamorphic
A t hi parentt rock.
k Common
C iin marine
sediments and sedimentary rocks. Not normally present in
dominant proportion
Cl Mi
Clay Mica IIn soils
il dderived
i d ffrom weathering
th i off sedimentary
di t rocks.
Dominant mineral in slate and shale
Montmorillonite Results from weathering of volcanic rocks or ash under poor
drainage Common in sediments of arid areas

In flush
f sites, where cations are being added, and perhaps silica too, e.g. tropical
swamps, then there is a build-up to montomorillonite or illite. As a simplification in tropical areas,
there are kaolinites in the hillslopes, and montmorillonites in the valley. In temperate regions, there
is less extreme variation and illite is more common and vermiculite are common topsoils for some
Most Common Clay Minerals
a) Kaolinite - two-layer unit of Gibbsite and Silica Sheet (7.2oA)
- strong linkage by hydrogen bonding and secondary valence forces
b) Illite - three-layer unit (9.5oA) formed by silica sheet sandwiched by 2 Gibbsite sheets
- very stable
t bl bbonding
di b by secondary
d valence
l fforces and
d potassium
t i iions.
c) Montmorillonite - three-layer unit (9.5oA) formed by silica sheet sandwiched by 2 Gibbsite sheets
- very weak bonding by secondary valence forces and exchangeable ion linkage
- isomorphous substitution of magnesium or iron for aluminum, changes the
character of montmorillonites
Plasticity Chart
Atterberg Limits for
Common Clay y Minerals
4.6 Clay-water system behavior

The clay
y particles
p interact with soil water (p
(pore water)) surrounding
g them. All clay
ypparticles are
charged and they can therefore attract ions on the surface

The origin of the charge is the result of:

-Isomorphous substitution
-Imperfections in crystal lattice or broken bonds at edges

4.6.1 Isomorphous Substitution

4.6.2 Broken bonds: The clay crystal is continuous in two directions, however at the
edges there must be broken bonds between oxygen and silicon and between oxygen and
aluminum. The amount of this charge per unit weight of clay increases with decreasing
particle size, because the proportion of edge area to total area is increased. These
b k bonds
broken b d attract hydrogen
h d (H+) or h
d l (OH
(OH-)) iions ffrom the
h pore water. Th
ease with which the hydrogen ion can be exchanged increases as the pH of the pore
water increases.
Flocculated and Dispersive Structures
Colloidal micella
Interaction between negatively charged mineral particles and the surrounding aqueous
l ti (Fi
(Fig. 1)

-Surface of clay particles are negatively charged.

-Attract the positively charged cations in the porewater.
Adjacent water particles undergo alteration and become structured
Double-Layer Theory
Basic units have sheeted structure – flatly – shaped part.
Surface dimensions many times greater than part. Thickness
affected by cations in porewater and nature of individual
Colloidal micella – interaction between negatively
g y charged
mineral particles and the surrounding aqueous solution.
Surface of clay particles are negatively charged
Attract the positively charged cations in the porewater
Adjacent water particles undergo alteration and become structured

Stern electric double layer – cations formed a positively

charged zone
one together with
ith the negati
el charged clay
particle surface.
Cations distribute themselves around the negatively charged
particles Greatest density near the surface – decreasing
Cations formed a positively charged
with distance
zone together with the negatively-
g clay yp
particle surface
Cations distribute themselves around the
negatively charged particles. Greatest
density near the surface – decreasing
ith di

Fig. 2 Stern Double Layer

Three possible mechanisms that water
molecules can be electrically
y attracted
toward the surface of clay particles
a)) Attraction between the negatively
g y charged
g faces of clay
y and the
positive ends of dipoles
b) Attraction between cations in the double layer and the negatively
g ends of dipoles.
charged p The cations are in turn attracted by
y the
negatively charged faces of clay particles.
c) Sharing of the hydrogen atoms in the water molecules by hydrogen
bonding between the oxygen atoms in the clay particles and the
oxygen atoms in the water molecules.
Double-Layer Water
(After T. W. Lambe, Compacted Clay:
Structure, Trans. ASCE, vol. 125, 1960)

(a) Typical kaolinite particle, (b) Typical montmorillonite

10000 by 1000 A. particle, 1000 by 10 A.
Since the innermost layer of double-layer water is very strongly held
by a clay particle, it is referred to as adsorbed water.
Moisture in Soils

Solid 3 2 1
5 1 2 3 air drying

oven drying

Categories of water surrounding clay particles

1) Absorbed water – held by powerful electrical forces virtually in solid state and very thin
(0.005 mm)
- cannot be removed by oven drying at 110oC
2) C b
Can be removed
dbby oven d
i nott b
by air
i ddrying.
3) Capillary water held by surface tension, removed by air drying
4) Gravitational water – removable by drainage
5) Chemically combined water – water hydration
within crystal structure – not removable by over drying
A)) Consistency
y of Cohesive Soils
I) Plasticity of Soils
The term “plasticity” is normally encountered and
applied in fine-grained soils, such as clay.

The plasticity property of clayey soils is due to the

presence off double
d bl llayer watert that
th t is
i attracted
tt t d on
the surface of clay minerals.

The plasticity property of soils can be reflected from

the Atterberg Limits:
z Liquid limit

z Plastic limit

z Shrinkage limit
A)) Atterberg
g Limits
(For soil fraction passing #40 sieve)
1) Liquid Limit (LL)
ƒ It is the lowest water content that a soil can behave like a
viscous liquid
ƒ It is the water content of the soil at which the soil, when
place in a standard liquid limit device in a specified manner,
will cause 25 number of blows to close a specific width
groove for a specified length.
A) Atterberg Limits
2) Plastic Limit (PL)
ƒ It is the lowest water content that a given soil can still
behave plastically, i.e., above PL the soil can be deformed
without volume change or cracking and will retain its
deformed shape
ƒ It is the water content of the soil at which the soil, when
rolled into 3mm diameter threads, will start to crumble.
A) Atterberg Limits
3) Shrinkage Limit
ƒ It is the highest water content at which the
soil mass stopsp to shrink or decrease its
volume upon further decrease of water
ƒ It is determined as the water content after
just enough water is added to fill all the
voids of a dry pat of soil.
B) Physical Significance
of Atterberg
g Limits
The greater the amount of water a soil contains
contains, the
less interaction there will be between adjacent
particles and the more the soil should behave like a

Generally, the water that is attracted to the surface of

soil should not behave as a liquid. Thus, a soil, which
has a greater tendency to attract water to the particle
surface, should have a larger liquid limit.
B) Physical Significance
… (cont’d)
Plasticity Index (PI) = LL – PL
¾ This is an index of soil’s strength. PI decreases,
g increases.

Flow Index ((If) = Slope

p of flow curve.
¾ A flow curve is a plot of the water content vs. the
number of blows (inPI log scale).
Toughness Index (It) =
B) Physical Significance … (cont’d)
ωN − PL
q y Index ((LI)) =
Expected Soil Behavior:
LI < 0 Brittle behavior
0<LI<1 Plastic beha
LI>1 Viscous liquid behavior


ωN >LL
C) Relationship of Atterberg Limits
to Composition of Soil

Atterberg limits for a soil are related to the amount of

water that is attracted to the surfaces of the soil
particles. Since the surface area increases
g y with decreasing g size of soil p
particles,, it
may be expected that the amount of attracted water
will be largely influenced by the amount of clay that is
present in the soil. On the basis of this reasoning,
Skempton (1953) defined a quantity called “Activity.”

Activity (A) =
by weight
i ht finer
fi than 2µm
pp values for the specific
surface of some common soil grains
((after Mitchell,, 1976))

Soil grain Specific surface

Clay minerals:
M t
ill it Up to
U t 840
Illite 65-200
Kaolinite 10-20
Clean sand 2 x 10-44
Activity of Clay (cont’d)

Activity of clay may

provide information
l ti tto swelling
potential (relative
swell at 1psi
surcharge) and
Atterberg limits of clay
Mineral Liquid Plastic Plasticity
limit limit Index
Montmorillon 140
710 54 to 98 67 to 656
Illite 79 to 110 45 to 60 33 to 67

Kaolinite 38 to 59 27 to 35 11 to 23



Fig. 4.2 Sequence of Mineral Transformation Observed from Soil Thin Sections
Fig. 1.25 Profile
residual soil area,
indicating stages of
transition from rock to
Fig. 4.6 a – Grain Size Distribution of Samples from Line I, Site No. 1
Fig. 4.7 – Cumulative Percentage of Grain Size Distribution from Site 1 and Site 2 Profiles
Fig. 7.1 Schematic representation of sedimentaion of different particle sizes, and
sampling for particle size analysis (Modified after Chu et al. [140])
Fig. 4.27
Representation of
di t ti process
Fig. 1.11 Soil-separate size limits
of M.I.T., FAA, AASHTO, Corps of
E i
Engineers and


Example 1
Classify the following soil using USSC. The soil data available for
classification are as follows:
D10 = 0.2mm
0 2mm
D30 = 0.73mm
D60 = 1.27mm
1 27mm
% passing No. 4 sieve = 77.5 (This means 22.5% gravel)
% pass
passingg No.
o 200
00 = 4.00

1) Passing No. 200 sieve Î <50% (coarse-grained soil)

2) Passing No. 4 sieve Î >50% (Sand)

3) For <5% passing #200 Î SW? or SP?

4) Use gradation curve, i.e., calculate Cu and Cc

Cu = D60/D10 = 6.35 >6 Cc = (D30)2/(D10D60) = 2.1 (1<2.1<3)

5) The soil is SW. Soil description is “well-graded sand with gravel.”
AASHTO Classification
Major Division/Group:

a) >35% passing #200: A-4, A-5, A-6, A-7

(Silt Clay Materials)

b) <35% passing #200: A-1, A-2, A-3

l MMaterials)
t i l )
Required Soil Data:

z From sieve analysis: Passing #10, #40 and #200 sieves

z Atterberg limits: Liquid Limit (LL) and Plasticity Index (PI)

Group Index (GI) = 0.2a + 0.005ac + 0.02bd

where: a = %passing #200 – 35 (1 ≤ a ≤ 40)
b = %passing #200 – 15 (1 ≤ b ≤ 40)
c = LL - 40 (1 ≤ c ≤ 20)
d = PI – 10 (1 ≤ d ≤ 20)
Example 2
Classify the following soil using AASHTO
AASHTO. The soil
data available for classification are as follows:
% passing #200 =5 =5.7
% passing #40 = 38.6
% passing #10 = 67.4
Are the data of LL and PI necessary? y Why? y

Ans The soil is: A-1b

Ans. A 1b (0)
Embankment Materials
Fig. 31 Location
Plan of the Second
Airport Field Test
Fig. 26 Index Properties of Foundation Soils (Section A/1)
Fig. 27 Strength and Compressibility Characteristics of Foundation Soils (Section 1A/1)
Mineralogy and Chemistry… Bangkok Clay and Ariake Clay (Soils and
Foundation, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 11-21, 2000)
Ariake Clay
Bangkok Clay
Soil Phases
II) Soil Fabric

¾ If the net interparticle forces between two clay particle in

suspension is repulsion, each clay particle will settle individually
and will form a dispersed structure of clay.
¾ If it is attraction, flocs will be formed and these flocs will settle,
forming a flocculated clay.
¾ High salt concentration will depress the double layer of clay and,
hence, will decrease the force of repulsion. Attractive force
(largely attributed by Van der Waal’s force) will dominate and
effect an orientation approaching parallelism (face-to-face type)
– salt-type
salt type flocculation.
¾ In a soil-water suspension with low salt concentration, the
electrostatic force of attraction (positive at the edge and negative
at face of clay particle) may produce a flocculation with an
orientation approaching perpendicular array– non-salt