- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 03 May 2018
Geotechnical engineering is a practice that relates to the engineering behaviour of the earth and its materials. As a branch of civil engineering it is of great importance to construction activities taking place on the surface or within the ground, as well as to mining, coastal, drilling and other disciplines.
Geotechnical engineers are responsible for evaluating subsurface and soil conditions and materials, using the principles of soil and rock mechanics. They are commonly appointed as consultants on construction projects. Engineers also examine environmental issues such as flood plains and water tables. By doing so, they are able to determine whether a particular site is suitable for a proposed project, and can inform the engineering design process with regard to how ground conditions can be made safe and effective for construction.
From geotechnical surveys, engineers will be able to evaluate the stability of the ground, including any slopes and soil deposits, assess any risks and/or contamination, and help to determine the types of foundations and earthworks that will be required. The potential for hazards such as landslides, earthquakes and other seismic activity can also be assessed.
Geotechnical engineering is also important in coastal and ocean engineering, in relation to building wharves, jetties, marinas and coastal defences, as well as foundation and anchor systems for offshore structures such as oil rig platforms. Engineers may also work on embankments, tunnels, channels, reservoirs, irrigation systems, and so on.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Do you know your Rococo from your De Stijl, your Gothic from your Post-modernist?
May outlines a new funding strategy for housing associations and says the 'stigma' of social housing needs to end.
RIBA launches a consultation on a new Plan of Work for Fire Safety.
This article offers some basic rules to follow when writing your next specification.
The iconic Mackintosh Building will definitely be rebuilt, board chairwoman confirms.
The machinery used to fashion stone has changed dramatically - and so have the products.
This type of pile provides support to the building, as well as acting as a heat source and a heat sink.
Why investors are adopting the SDGs and why civil engineering could be crucial for delivering them.
Read about all the winners from the London ceremony of CIAT's 2018 Architectural Technology Awards.
How do you find the right stone to conserve historic buildings?
Appointment agreements often include a ‘scope of services’ setting out the consultant's performance on a project.