The aim of the Theoretical Soil Mechanics course is to provide practicing engineers with a sound understanding of critical state soil mechanics and its application in geotechnical engineering. The theory of consolidation and shear behaviour of soil can be unified within the framework of critical state soil mechanics. Important aspects such as stress invariants and stress paths will be revised before developing the concept of a state boundary surface and its application to describe the behaviour of normally and over-consolidated soil. Themes that will be covered include the critical state line, Roscoe surface, Hvorslev surface, drained and undrained planes and elastic walls. Critical state soil mechanics also provides a framework for the development of plasticity models for soils, often applied in finite element analysis. Concepts such as a yield surface, hardening law and flow rule will be introduced before presenting the Cam Clay model.
An overview of Finite Element (FE) analysis will be presented with special reference to the unique challenges of FE analysis in geotechnical engineering. Continuum mechanics will be introduced in terms of the relevant constitutive models to develop a set of equations in matrix form that satisfies compatibility of stresses and strains. Special properties of the three phase material, soil, in a continuum will be discussed. The introduction of Critical State models and associated challenges will be discussed. Lastly, Drucker's stability postulate and special implications and pitfalls regarding FE analysis will be discussed. Practical guidance will be given on the preparation of an analysis by applying the pre-processor of a specific FE code and evaluation of the outcome using the post-processor of the code.
Postgraduates students registered for the Honours Degree in Geotechnical Engineering are required to attend the course and pass the examination for Theoretical Soil Mechanics SGS 788. There is no formal evaluation of other course attendees.
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