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Published 1969 | public
Journal Article

The Physics and Mechanics of Soil


Soil has its origin in physical processes of comminution and abrasion of rock masses and in chemical processes of solution and recrystallization of rock minerals. After formation it is transported and distributed by a variety of agencies before subaerial or subaqueous deposition. Generally, soils experience a number of cycles of sedimentation, uplift, erosion and redeposition. Their mechanical behaviour under the stresses imposed by engineering structures varies with the type of soil. Both the deformation and failure of soils are of interest in the design of structures and these properties must be studied by special laboratory tests. The solution of a soil engineering problem therefore involves a field investigation and sampling programme to define the boundaries of the soil involved, laboratory testing of the soil, and analytical or computer calculations to determine the displacements and stresses which will occur in the soil and structure. Problems of particular interest include slope failures, the design of earth dams, retaining walls and piled structures, the displacement and failure of soil under buildings and the determination of soil properties on the surface of the moon and other planets.

Additional Information

© 1969 Taylor & Francis. Published online: 20 Aug 2006. Figures 1, 2, 16 and 17 were obtained by spacecraft operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of the California Institute of Technology, on behalf of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The scanning electron microscope at JPL, operated by Mr. J. Devaney, was used to obtain figs. 3 and 5. Fig. 9 was originally included in a paper written by Mr. Carl Crawford of the Division of Building Research of the National Research Council of Canada. The first two parts of figs. 14 appeared in a paper by Dr. R. A. Westmann of the University of California at Los Angeles. The other photographs or drawings were made by the author.

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August 19, 2023
October 24, 2023