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Geotechnical Materials

Geotechnical Materials

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Geotechnical Materials

Please look at the information and related sources for Geotechnical Materials below, or, post a question in the Geotechnical Forum.


Geotechnical Materials Publications Available for Downloading

FHWA RD-76-82 - An Occurrence and Distribution Survey of Expansive Materials in the United States by Physiographic Areas. This publication includes the geology, categorization, classification, evironmental considerations and distribution in the continental U.S. of expansive rocks and soil.

NAVFAC 7.01 - Soil Mechanics. This publication includes soil/ rock identification and properties, field exploration, field testing, instrumentation, laboratory testing, distribution of stresses, settlement analysis, volume expansion, seepage, erosion control, drainage filters, slope stability and slope protection.

USACE TM 5-852-4 - Arctic and Subarctic Construction - Foundations for Structures. The main topics are site investigations, foundation design, construction considerations and monitoring for structures in cold weather. Includes material considerations, excavation, backfill, inspection, slope stability, retaining walls, creep and bearing capacity.

USACE TM 5-818-4 - Backfill for Subsurface Structures

USACE TM 5-818-1 - Soils and Geology Procedures for Foundation Design of Buildings and Other Structures (Except Hydraulic Structures)

USACE EM 1110-1-1906 - Soil Sampling


Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, Cold Climate Utilities Manual, Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, Montreal, 1986. An in-depth publication concerning water facilities. Also has excellent information pertaining to foundations, roadways, runways, dams, earthwork and soil properties.

Phukan, Arvind, Frozen Ground Engineering, Prentice Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1985. This publication has information on soil classifications including a frost susceptibility soil classification, ice descriptions, as well as physical, mechanical and thermal properties of frozen soils. Drilling, sampling and testing are discussed. This book also includes a foundation design philosophy, and analysis of thaw settlement, shallow foundations, pile foundations, roadways, airfields, utility systems, and slope stability.


Geotechnical Materials Technical Guidance

Materials most common to geotechnical engineers are soils, concrete and asphalt. If you cannot find what you are looking for here, look at the links for laboratory testing, pavements, grouting, geosynthetics, and compaction, excavation and earthwork.


Soils are comprised of 3 components. They are solids, water and air. Characteristics of the solids, such as grain size and type/ structure of molecules is used, in part, to classify the soil. Determining the weights and volumes of each soil component for a given soil mass, we can estimate soil properties such as:

  • porosity
  • void ratio
  • water content
  • specific gravity
  • degree of saturation
  • dry unit weight
  • saturated unit weight
  • submerged unit weight
  • wet unit weight

To see equations for the above soil properties, look at a Phase Diagram

Specific soil properties are usually determined by an appropriate laboratory test. Typical soil and soil related properties are provided in the links below:

Angle of Internal Friction
External Friction Angle
Modulus of Vertical Subgrade Reaction
Phase Diagram
Soil Classification Comparisons
Soil Unit Weights
Standard Proctor values
Unified Soil Classification System
USDA Textural Triangle
Youngs Modulus

Concrete (Portland Cement Concrete)

Basic concrete is comprised of 5 ingredients to specific proportions. In descending order, the ingredients are coarse aggregates, fine aggregates, water, cement and air. Admixtures are commonly added to concrete for attaining desired properties. These properties may include air-entrainment for increased freeze/ thaw durability, plasticizers to enhance workability, accelerators for increasing hydration rate and retarders for increasing set time. Other admixtures are used to increase concrete strength, reduce shrinkage and cracking, and increase resistance to chemical reactions.

The unit weight of concrete is generally in the range of 140 to 160 pounds per cubic feet. Many engineers estimate the unit weight to be 150 pcf.

Per ASTM C-150, the following summation of cement are provided:
Type I - Normal Portland Cement. This is an all-purpose cement when sulfate hazards are absent.
Type II - Modified Portland Cement. Usually used in hot climates, and has only a moderate sulfate resistance.
Type III - High-Early Strength Portland Cement. Sometimes used when structure requires early use or cannot protect concrete from extensive, long-term cold weather. Extensive cracking may occur with use of Type III cement.
Type IV - Low-Heat Portland Cement. Sometimes used for massive concrete structures. Ultimate strength develops slowly as low temperature is maintained during the curing process.
Type V - Sulfate-Resistant Portland Cement - Used when sulfate exposure is high, usually in high alkaline soils.


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