About this book
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.