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The term “Soil” has various meanings
depending upon the general professional
field in which it is being considered.
To an agriculturist, soil is the
substance existing on the earth’s
surface which grows and develops
plant life.
To the Geologist, Soil is the material
in the relatively thin surface zone
within which roots occur
To an engineer, Soil is an unconsolidated
agglomerate of minerals with or without
organic matter found at or near the surface of
earth by means of which and upon which
engineer build structures.
It includes the entire thickness of earth
crust which is accessible and feasible
for practical utilization as a
foundation support or construction
To an engineer, it is a material that can be:
built on: foundations of buildings, bridges
built in: basements, culverts, tunnels
built with: embankments, roads, dams
supported: retaining walls
The behavior of soil as a foundation
support or as a construction material
is greatly influenced by the following:
1. Moisture content present in soil pores
2. The fluctuation of ground water table
3. Freezing and thawing phenomena
4. Presence of organic matter
5. History of formation of soil
6. Seismicity of area
Soil particles are bonded together by
mechanical or attractive forces
The binding power of soil is very low as
compared to the binding power of rocks
The type of soil may vary from clay to
gravel and even to cobble and boulders
The top soil, which usually extends to a
depth of two feet contains organic
matter and is generally considered as
unsuitable for civil engineering use
because of high compressibility under
Soil is generally formed by the
disintegration or decomposition of
rocks (weathering of rocks) at or near
the earth surface through the action of
many natural, physical and chemical
agents, which break them into smaller
and smaller particles.
The weathering of rocks may be:
1. Physical/mechanical Weathering
2. Chemical weathering
It is the disintegration of rocks caused by
temperature changes, freezing and
thawing, swelling, erosion by flowing
water, natural disasters (Earthquake,
land sliding etc.) and activities of animals
including men.
Soils formed by physical weathering
retain the minerals of the parent rocks
Coarse-grained soils (Gravels, sands
and their mixtures) are the products of
physical weathering
Weathering caused by the
decomposition of rock minerals by
oxidation, hydration, carbonation,
desilication and leaching is known as
chemical weathering

Different types of clays and organic

soils (peat, muck, humus etc.) are the
common soils formed by the chemical
Soil Mechanics
Soil Mechanics is defined as the branch of
engineering science which enables an
engineer to know theoretically or
experimentally the behavior of soil
under the action of loads (static or
dynamic), gravitational forces, water
and temperature.

It is the knowledge of engineering science,

which deals with properties, behavior and
performance of soil as a construction
material or foundation support
Terzaghi, a famous soil scientist,
defines soil mechanics as follows:
“Soil Mechanics is the
application of laws of
hydraulics and mechanics to
engineering problems dealing
with sediments and other
unconsolidated accumulations
of solid particles produced by
the mechanical and chemical
disintegration of rocks”
Objectives of Soil Mechanics
1. To perform engineering soil surveys
2. To develop suitable soil sampling
devices and soil sampling methods
3. To develop suitable soil testing devices
and soil testing methods
4. To determine physical properties of soil
5. To evaluate and interpret test results
and their application to the use of soil
as foundation support or construction
6) To try to understand the physical
processes which actually take place in
soil when subjected to various factors
such as static and dynamic loads, water,
temperature and environmental effects
7) To select and adopt the most suitable
and economical methods to control
sedimentation of dam reservoirs
8) To select suitable sites for disposal of
solid wastes (i.e., landfills) and to deal
with their design, operation and post
completion problems
Types of Soil
Based on Particle Size
 Types of soil based on engineering
considerations depends on particle size
 As engineering properties of soil change with

change in particle size, different names are

assigned to particular range of particle sizes
 The range of particle size specified for each

soil type vary among the agencies

Soil types Based On MIT Classification

Composed of very fine particles, less than
0.002mm in size
Flaky in shape thus having considerable surface
Have high inter particle attraction and thus having
sufficient cohesion
Susceptible to swelling and shrinkage, have low
Commonly have brown color
Soil types Based On MIT Classification

Composed of particles ranging in size from 0.002 to
Have high capillarity and very low dry strength
Particle size intermediate between clay and sand thus
possessing properties of both sand and clays i.e. it
show slight cohesion and also friction
The color of silty soil is mostly brown
Soil types Based On MIT Classification
Particle size ranging from 0.06 to 2 mm, may be

rounded to angular in shape, grey in color

No plasticity, high strength in confined state and has

considerable frictional resistance

Angular particles have high frictional resistance than

rounded ones
It has high permeability and low capillarity
Soil types Based On MIT Classification
Particle size ranging from 2 to 60 mm

Form good foundation material

Show high frictional resistance

Angular particles have high frictional resistance than

rounded ones
The gravels produced by crushing of rocks are angular in

shape while those taken from riverbeds are sub-rounded to

Soil types Based On MIT Classification

Cobbles and Boulders:

Particles larger than gravels are commonly known as
cobbles or boulders
Cobbles range in size from 60 to 200mm

The material larger than 200mm are designated as

Soil types According to ASTM and AASHTO

Range of Sizes Soil Type

Larger than 2mm to 4.75mm 75 Gravel
2mm to 0.425mm to 2mm 4.75 Coarse sand
------ to 0.425mm 2 Medium Sand
0.075mm – 0.425 0.075m -- 0.425 Fine sand
0.002mm—0.075 to 0.005mm 0.075 Silt
mm 0.002> mm 0.005> Clay
mm 0.001> mm 0.001> Colloids
The nomenclature for materials assigned

to grain size limits adopted by the ASTM

(American Society for Testing and
Materials) are used for the unified soil
classification system
The AASHTO (American Association of

State Highway and Transportation

Officials) soil classification system follows
the nomenclature adopted by the AASHTO