Assessment of characteristic shear strength parameters of soil and its implication in geotechnical design

  • Wolfgang Fellin


The characteristic shear strength parameters of soil are obviously decisive for the geotechnical design. Characteristic parameters are defined as cautious estimates of the soil parameters affecting the limit state. It is shown how geotechnical engineers interpret this cautious estimate. Due to the inherent lack of data in geotechnical investigations there is always a certain degree of subjectivity in assessing the characteristic soil parameters. The range of characteristic shear parameters assigned to the same set of laboratory experiments by 90 geotechnical engineers has been used to design a spread foundation. The resulting geometrical dimensions are remarkably different. It is concluded that geotechnical calculations are rather estimates than exact predictions. Thus for intricate geotechnical projects a sensitivity analysis should be performed to find out critical scenarios. Furthermore a continuous appraisal of the soil properties during the construction process is indispensable.


Limit State Friction Angle Shear Surface Limit State Function Geotechnical Investigation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Fellin
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Geotechnik und TunnelbauUniversität InnsbruckAustria

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