What is Geotechnical Engineering? Subtopics, Salaries, Books, Journals, ...

Articles > What is Geotechnical Engineering? Subtopics, Salaries, Books, Journals, ...

Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behavior of earth materials. Geotechnical engineering is important in civil engineering, but also has applications in military, mining, petroleum and other engineering disciplines that are concerned with construction occurring on the surface or within the ground. See the full list of civil engineering branches.

A typical geotechnical engineering project begins with a review of project needs to define the required material properties. Then follows a site investigation of soil, rock, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest to determine their engineering properties including how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. Site investigations are needed to gain an understanding of the area in or on which the engineering will take place. Investigations can include the assessment of the risk to humans, property and the environment from natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, sinkholes, soil liquefaction, debris flows and rockfalls.


Practicing engineers:

Geotechnical engineers are typically graduates of a four-year civil engineering program and some hold a masters degree and/or PhD. In the USA, geotechnical engineers are typically licensed and regulated as Professional Engineers (PEs) in most states; currently only California and Oregon have licensed geotechnical engineering specialties. The Academy of Geo-Professionals (AGP) began issuing Diplomate, Geotechnical Engineering (D.GE) certification in 2008. State governments will typically license engineers who have graduated from an ABET accredited school, passed the "Fundamentals of Engineering" examination (FE), completed several years of work experience under the supervision of a licensed Professional Engineer, and passed the Professional Engineering examination (PE).


Average geotechnical engineering salary:

Based on an investigation on 468 salaries, median pay for Geotechnical Engineers in the United States is around $65,000 annually (2017). Minimum: $55,000; Maximum: $92,000. (Low is the 10th percentile and High is the 90th percentile.) 


Geotechnical engineering subtopics:

  1. Soil mechanics
    Soil mechanics is a branch of soil physics and engineering mechanics that describes the behavior of soils. It differs from fluid mechanics and solid mechanics in the sense that soils consist of a heterogeneous mixture of fluids (usually air and water) and particles (usually clay, silt, sand, and gravel) but soil may also contain organic solids and other matter.
  2. Geotechnical investigation
    Geotechnical engineers and engineering geologists perform geotechnical investigations to obtain information on the physical properties of soil and rock underlying (and sometimes adjacent to) a site to design earthworks and foundations for proposed structures, and for repair of distress to earthworks and structures caused by subsurface conditions.

  3. Foundations
    A building's foundation transmits loads from buildings and other structures to the earth. Geotechnical engineers design foundations based on the load characteristics of the structure and the properties of the soils and/or bedrock at the site. 

  4. Lateral earth support structures
    A retaining wall is a structure that holds back earth. Retaining walls stabilize soil and rock from downslope movement or erosion and provide support for vertical or near-vertical grade changes. Cofferdams and bulkheads, structures to hold back water, are sometimes also considered retaining walls.

  5. Earthworks
    Earthworks include excavation, filling, and compaction.

  6. Ground Improvement
    Ground Improvement is a technique that improves the engineering properties of the treated soil mass. Usually, the properties modified are shear strength, stiffness and permeability. Ground improvement has developed into a sophisticated tool to support foundations for a wide variety of structures. Properly applied, i.e. after giving due consideration to the nature of the ground being improved and the type and sensitivity of the structures being built, ground improvement often reduces direct costs and saves time.

  7. Slope stabilization
    Slope stability is the potential of soil covered slopes to withstand and undergo movement. Stability is determined by the balance of shear stress and shear strength. 

  8. Offshore geotechnical engineering
    Offshore (or marinegeotechnical engineering is concerned with foundation design for human-made structures in the sea, away from the coastline (in opposition to onshore or nearshore).

  9. Geosynthetics
    Geosynthetics are a type of plastic polymer products used in geotechnical engineering that improve engineering performance while reducing costs. 


Most commonly used software in geotechnical engineering:


Most famous geotechnical engineering books:


Most famous (highest impact factor) geotechnical engineering journals:

The followings are almost the best geotehnical engineering journals, this list does not include all journals

Read also:


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