Soil mechanics is a scientific field of the civil engineering discipline that studies the mechanical behavior of soil. Soil mechanics is critical in civil engineering as it describes the principles that govern the way civil infrastructure projects such as buildings, bridges, tanks, embankments, dams, and tunnels, are supported by the soil.
Soil mechanics differs from classical fluid mechanics or solid mechanics as the soil is (a) a heterogeneous mixture of solid particles (gravel, rock, sand, silt, and clay), liquid, and gas (three-phase system), and (b) is a particulate material. Understanding and predicting soil’s behavior is complex as it is stress-dependent and nonlinear.
To derive soil’s mechanical properties, in-situ and laboratory testing are performed and analytical solutions or constitutive models are used to simulate its behavior.
In general, the purpose of using soil mechanics varies depending on the project, but broadly it aims to ensure soil’s stability and limit deformation while controlling groundwater flow.
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