Geotechnical Engineering is that sub section of Civil Engineering that involves the solution of problems involving soils and rock. It includes the areas of soil mechanics, rock mechanics and foundation design.
The mechanics of soils and rocks develops the bases for studying the interaction between the geological environment and man-made constructions whose large majority rest on, or below ground surface. Earth dams and various types of retaining structures use the soil as the primary material of construction, and the mechanics of granular media provides the guidelines for evaluating their stability. Foundation design focuses on the load carrying element that connects the structure to the soil. This includes footings, piles, drilled piers as well as retaining walls, sheet pilings and bracings whose function is to provide lateral earth support.
Professionals in the field of geotechnical engineering examine the soil and rock layers that make up the earth in order to determine their physical and chemical properties. Using this information, they design foundations and earthworks structures for buildings, roads, and many other types of projects.
The goal of geotechnical engineering is to design soil stabilization systems that keep people safe. This may include ensuring a building will remain standing on unstable soil, or preventing earthquakes and landslides from impacting major roads. Geotechnical engineers may also work on projects that deal with underwater soils, such as those affecting marinas or offshore platforms.
The process of geotechnical design begins with a subsurface review, where soil samples are taken using test pits (also known as bores). Geotechnical engineering new jersey companies will examine the soil properties, including its stability, the presence of air or rock pockets, and the chemical makeup of the earth. This investigation allows them to determine the environmental impact of disturbing the soil, as well as what steps should be taken to prepare the site for construction.
Once subsurface work is complete, a geotechnical engineering professional can use the results of this research to design stable footings and foundations. These structures are made from steel, concrete, or masonry, and are placed underground to support and distribute the weight of the building. To create accurate designs, engineers calculate the load of both building materials and the people inside. These systems must also allow the building to settle over time, and accommodate ground movements and impacts from weather. Typically, the more unstable the soil at a project site is, the larger and more complex the foundation system will be.