What Is Geotechnical Engineering

“Unfortunately, soils are made by nature and not by man, and the products of nature are always complex…

As soon as we pass from steel and concrete to earth, the omnipotence of theory ceases to exist. Natural soil is never uniform.‚ÄĚ

‚Äď Karl Von Terzaghi

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the role of a geotechnical engineer?

A: Geotechnical engineers¬†are responsible for structures’ foundations. Work includes assessing data from the field, finding ways to ensure foundations or slopes are stable, designing foundations, and overseeing work on a construction site. They often work for consultancies.

Q: What is meant by geotechnical engineering?

A: Geotechnical engineering¬†is the branch of civil¬†engineering¬†concerned with the¬†engineering¬†behaviour of earth materials. … A typical¬†geotechnical engineering project begins with a review of project needs to¬†define¬†the required material properties.

Q: What is the difference between a geologist and a geotechnical engineer?

A: Geologists are students of the planet Рits processes and make-up. Geotechnical engineers are civil engineers who utilize their knowledge of geology to aid in the design and construction of structures, depending on the mechanics of the surrounding geology.

Q: Why is geotechnical engineering important?

A: It is essential to determine the engineering characteristics of soils that are influenced by the size of rock particles, form of mineral particles, distribution of grain size, and the amount of minerals, air and water in the soil.

Q: How extensive a Geotechnical investigation does one need to carry out?

A: The extent of a geotechnical investigation depends largely on the type of structure. If you are designing a road it may be possible to use test pits (<1.5m) unless unfavourable conditions are encountered. For single and double storey houses/commercial buildings a standard backacter excavator investigation will be required to expose soils to depths of at least 3m. For larger structures imposing significant loads on the ground and supported on large foundations a more detailed investigation would be required.


Q: Why geology is important in civil engineering?

A: Geology is the study of earth, the materials of which it is made, the structure of those materials and the effects of the natural forces acting upon them and is important to civil engineering because all work performed by civil engineers involves earth and its features.

Q: What is the difference between Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering?

A: Soil mechanics mainly deals with Soil microstructure and its property. Foundation engineering related to design of foundation and pressure distribution deals with engineering properties of soil. Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behaviour of earth materials.

Q: What qualifications do you need to be a geotechnical engineer?

A: Bachelor’s degree programs¬†in civil, geotechnical, geological, and environmental engineering typically last four years and include general education courses in English, social science, and the humanities, as well as courses in advanced mathematics, structural geology, and fluid mineralogy.

Q: I have an investigation for the adjacent site. Can I use this report

A: Under normal circumstances it is reasonable to expect the conditions within 20 to 40 m of a site to be similar. However, this can never be guaranteed. It is regardless a requirement for all developments to have a site specific geotechnical investigation carried out.

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