Geomechanics of Failures

Alexander M. Puzrin, Eduardo E. Alonso, Núria M. Pinyol ... 
245 pages - Publisher: Springer; 2010 edition (June, 2010) ...
Language: English - ISBN-10: 9048135303 - ISBN-13: 978-9048135301 ...

The main goal of this introductory text is to demonstrate how basic concepts in Soil Mechanics can be used as a “forensic” tool in the investigation of geotechnical failures. This, in turn, provides a good opportunity to show how to use available procedures in the formulation of useful simple models. Geotechnical failure is understood here in a broad sense as the failure of a structure to function properly due to a geotechnical reason. Some of the geotechnical failures selected are well known for their impact on the geotechnical community. Others are closer to the author’s experience. They have been organized into three main topics: Settlement, Bearing Capacity and Excavations. They cover a significant proportion of every day’s activity of professional geotechnical engineers. No attempt has been made to create a comprehensive handbook of failures. Instead, the emphasis has been given to creative applications of simple mechanical concepts and well known principles and solutions of Soil Mechanics. The book shows how much can be learned from relatively simple approaches. Despite this emphasis on simplicity, the book provides a deep insight into the cases analyzed. A non-negligible number of new analytical closed-form solutions have also been found. Their derivation can be followed in detail. In all the cases described an effort was made to provide a detailed and step by step description of the hypothesis introduced and of the analysis performed.

From the Back Cover: It is not an easy task to fascinate a student with a standard course on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. If, however, the same material is presented as a tool to explore a natural or a man-made "disaster", both the motivation and the ability to absorb this material increase dramatically. The case studies in this book could help to build an introductory Forensic Geotechnical Engineering course, covering such basic topics as settlements, bearing capacity and excavations.

The failure cases considered in this book have something in common – they can be all reasonably well explained using so called "back-of-the-envelope" calculations, i.e., without sophisticated models requiring finite element analysis. These simple methods based on clear mechanical considerations are the endangered species of the computer dominated era, though sometimes they could prevent a disaster caused by a wrong application of computer models. In particular, the upper bound limit analysis has repeatedly proven itself as a powerful tool allowing for sufficiently accurate estimates of the failure loads and leaving a lot of room for creativity.

No one is exempt from making mistakes, but repeating well known mistakes reveals a gap in education. One of the objectives of this book is to attempt bridging this gap, at least partially. More failure cases covering a larger area of geotechnical problems are included into the companion book "Geomechanics of Failures: Advanced Topics" by the same authors.

Geomechanics of Failures, Alexander M. Puzrin, Eduardo E. Alonso, Núria M. Pinyol

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