Mesut Pervizpour

CEE-142 Soil Mechanics

Course Description:

Physical properties of soils; mineralogy, composition and fabric. Phase and weight-volume relationships, consistency, gradation and classification of soils. Fluid flow through porous media. Stress-strain behavior; stresses within a soil mass, deformation behavior, measurement of stress-strain properties, shear strength of soil. Volume change in soils; compressibility, pore water pressure, consolidation and settlement. Laboratory experiments to measure physical and mechanical properties of soils. Prerequisites as noted below. Prerequisites: MECH 002 or MECH 003 or CEE 003.

Text book: An Introduction to Geotechnical Engineering, by R. Holtz, W. Kovacs, and T. Sheahan, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2nd Ed., ISBN# 978-0-13-249634-6

References: Principles of Geotechnical Engineering, 8th Ed., by B.M. Das, K. Sobhan.
Engineering Principles of Soils and Their Measurement, 4th edition, McGraw-Hill, by J. E. Bowles.

Location and Hours:
Make-Up Friday Lectures: (June 4, June 11, July 9th)
Final Exam: August 12th

Syllabus | Handouts | Assignments | Course Project | Laboratory | Links

Course Syllabus in pdf soil mechanics syllabus

  1. Attendance is mandatory.
    • Section III reports will be issued (see PDF Syllabus for details)
  2. Examinations: Unannounced quizzes will be conducted regularly. Two midterm exams and a comprehensive final exam will be scheduled. No makeup midterm and final examination will be given except for properly documented emergency situations. In general, the opportunity for make-up is granted only when there are extenuating circumstances.
  3. Homework Assignments: is due at the beginning of class on the specified date. No late submissions will be accepted.
    • Weekly assigned homeworks are due at the beginning of class on the specified date. No late submissions will be accepted.
    • In-class assignments/work will be collected during the class.
  4. Laboratory RULES & PROCEDURES should be adhered to strictly. Noncompliance will result in progressively increasing loss of points from the lab reports turned in. The general rules and procedures will be discussed on the first day of the laboratory.
Mid-term test average
Homework/Quizzes/Design Project
Final Examination


Experiment Outline
1 Sieve and Hydrometer Analysis
2 Consistency Limits (Atterberg Limits)
3 Density Analysis Compaction & Relative Density)
4 Soil Permeability
5 Numerical Lab, Stress Distribution and more ...
6 Consolidation
7 Numerical Settlement Lab
8 Unconfined Compression/Tension
9 Direct Shear Test/Calculation Lab
10 Triaxial Compressioni Test/Calculation Lab
11 Numerical Lab for Slope Stability Analysis

Laboratory Grading:
Lab reports
Lab exam
Attendance & Participation

Report format: Follow the "Notes on Report Writing" handout. Use wordprocessing and spreadsheet and computer graphics tools to generate the main text of your report. Use engineering paper for Appendices and sample calculations. Use "Covers" for the reports. Neatness and consistency are importnat and will be graded seriously!

Laboratory conduct: Attendance and participation is obligatory. Attendance will be recorded in each laboratory period. Work groups will be madue up of 3 to 5 students. Group reports will be prepared and submitted one week following each experiment.

Clean all the equipment usde and the counter tops after the experiment. Failure to keep the equipment intact and clean will result in loss of points on the laboratory reports.


Introduction and Physical Properties of Soils
  1. Formation, identification and classification of soils
  2. Clay minerals (types & identification methods)
  3. Clay - Water interaction (charge deficiency, hydration, DDL, CEC, other)
  4. Soil index properties: particle size, shape & applications
  5. Weight-volume relationship
  6. Consistency of soil and soil structure
  7. Engineering classification of soil
Mechanical/Chemical Soil Stabilization and Site Improvement
  1. Soil compaction
    • Moisture-density relationship
    • Field compaction techniques
    • Field compaction control in field
    • Deep compaction techniques
  2. Chemical soil stabilization
Soil-Water System
  1. Water percolation in soils
    • Definitions
    • Darcy's Law (seepage velocity, hydraulic gradient, discharge rate)
    • Hydraulic conductivity (constant & falling head, triaxial & empirical relations)
    • Horizontal and vertical flow
    • Determination of hydraulic conductivity in the field
    • Seepage: hydrodynamics of steady state flow, flownets, unconfined flow through earth dams
    • Numerical analysis of seepage (FD solution of Laplace's equation) - SKIPPED
  2. Soil stress with and without seepage
    • Total, hydraulic and effective stress concepts
    • Heave, filters, capillary, quick condition

Stress-strain and soil deformation
  1. Stress/strain components
  2. Stress-strain behavior and yielding
  3. Hooke's Law, plane strain and axisymmetry
  4. Stresses at a point: Mohr's circle
Load Induced Stresses in Soil
  1. Sub-surface stresses in soil:
    • Overburden
    • Applied stresses (surface loads)
  2. Stress invariants
  3. Stress paths
Soil Deformation
  1. Settlement components
  2. Immediate settlement
  3. 1D Consolidation and Settlement
    • Definitions:draiange, time-settlement,NC/OC, preconsolidation
    • Primary consolidation settlement (NC & OC)
    • Secondary consolidation & empirical relationships
    • Terzaghi's 1D theory of consolidation (Rate of settlement)
    • Time factor and degree of consolidation
    • Lab determination of coefficient of consolidation

Soil Strength
  1. Soil response to shearing (Type I & II Soils)
    • Dilatancy and Critical State
    • Effect of confining stress, cementation and other
  2. Failure Criteria
    • Coulomb's and Taylor's model & Mohr-Coulomb Failure Criteria
    • Undrained and Drained shear strength
    • Failure plane-Mohr circle-principal stress relationships
  3. Shear strength parameters (laboratory & Field)
    • Unconfined compression
    • Direct Shear
    • Triaxial Compression (UU,CU,CD)
    • Fall cone test
    • Vane shear and other field tests
    • Sensitivity & Thixotropy
Sampling and Field Investigation
  1. Sub-soil exploration
  2. Field testing methods
Lateral Earth Pressure
  1. Lateral earth pressure coefficients, rest, active, passive
  2. Total & effective LEP of layered soil
  3. LEP for surfface load configurations
  4. Rankine's earth pressure theory
  5. Coulomb's earth pressure theory
  6. Tension crack zone
Introduction to Slope Stability
  1. Definitions, stability factors, analysis stages, modes of failure
  2. Limit Equilibrium methods, FS, developed resistance, pore water pressure
    • Planar failure: Infinite, finite, wedge/block
    • Circular failure: Mass, friction circle
    • Tension cracks and EQ loads
  3. Design Chart Solutions for infinite and rotational failure
  4. Method of Slices
    • Overview, equilibrium components/unknowns, methods & accuracy
    • Ordinary method of slices (Swedish/Fellenius)
    • General expression of factor of safety (FS)
    • Simplified Bishop
Shallow Foundations and Bearing Capacity
  1. Footing types, construction methosd
  2. Beaing pressure
    • Centrally loaded foundation
    • Net and compensated bearing pressure
    • Factored and unfactored loads
    • Eccentricity & moments (one-way & two-way)
  3. Bearing Capacity
    • Introduction & load-settlement of ground
    • Types of shear failure
    • Derivation (undrained clay, Rankine wedge)
    • Terzaghi's bearing capacity
    • Meyerhof's BC
    • Vesic's BC
    • Allowable BC and LRFD
    • Groundwater effects
    • Building Codes BC Values
    • Settlement calculations