What is geotechnics?

We explain what geotechnics or geotechnical engineering is, its fields of study and its history. In addition, the work of geotechnical engineers.

  1. What is geotechnics?

Geotechnics or geotechnical engineering is a branch of geology that studies the mechanical properties of geological environment materials used in the field of construction especially in civil engineering, that is, in the design and construction of works such as highways, bridges, dams, etc.

The perspective of geotechnics regarding the physical, mechanical, hydraulic, etc., properties of the soil , the environment and the materials used in the construction is essential in the prevention of accidents and natural disasters .

His specific fields of study are:

  • Geological engineering , that is, the inventiveness of the human being applied to the interaction with the geological environment where he lives.
  • Rock mechanics , whose interest is the behavior of rocky stones and massifs, as well as their theoretical and applied description.
  • The study of soils , to understand their reaction to stress, stress and other physical-chemical conditions, depending on their particular nature.
  • The mechanics of soils , similar to the previous one, but dedicated to the application of the laws of physics and other natural sciences to the study of the forces acting on the surface layer of the Earth .

Individuals dedicated to the study and application of geotechnics are called geotechnical engineers, and specialize not only in fundamental principles of hydraulics, mechanics and geophysics , but also in geology and in the natural processes of creation and deposition of rocks, as well as its classification, its morphological processes, etc.

The founder of geotechnics was the American engineer Karl von Terzaghi (1883-1963), also the father of soil mechanics, with his famous book Erdbaumechanik auf bodenphysikalischer grundlage from 1935.

His work allowed specialists such as the American Ralph B. Peck (1912-2008), the Iranian Gholamreza Mesri (1940-) and the Austrian Arthur Casagrande (1902-1981) to develop and establish the foundations of geotechnical engineering, distinguishing it for the first time from other adjacent areas of knowledge.

But being one of the youngest branches of geology, geotechnics continues in active evolution and reconsideration, so it can often also be considered formally as a branch of civil engineering.

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