Lutenegger, Alan J. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:April 2018
- Geotechnical engineering projects
- Practicing engineers
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A branch of civil engineering concerned with analyzing and evaluating the behavior of earth materials and the ability of these materials to support structures on or below the ground. Ultimately, nearly all of the structures built on planet Earth rest on soil or rock—naturally occurring geologic deposits—and all structures begin with a good foundation. Highways, bridges, buildings, cell towers, wind turbines, large solar panel systems, and just about every other built structure that we see every day has a foundation to support it that has been designed by a geotechnical engineer (see illustration). Geotechnical engineering is an area within civil engineering that focuses on the mechanical behavior of soil and rock to support buildings and other structures. Whereas structural engineers are concerned primarily with the use of steel, concrete, and wood to build structures and environmental engineers are concerned primarily with providing safe drinking water and treatment of waste water, geotechnical engineers are concerned primarily with using soil and rock as engineering materials to build on and build with.
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