Geotechnical Engineering deals with the study of soil behavior, and the design and analysis of natural and man-made soil structures. Many constructions are conducted on less ideal ground conditions that may need to be improved. Construction of infrastructures and residential buildings may encounter unstable slopes, thus retaining walls and reinforced soil technologies are often used to stabilize them.

Geotechnical engineers are nowadays mandated to design foundations and soil structures that ensure stability and satisfactory performance under the impact of natural disasters, such as earthquake and heavy rainfall. Meanwhile, many civilian and military engineering problems involving geological materials, such as artificial freezing of soil for tunneling, long-term geological disposals of nuclear waste, carbon dioxide and hydraulic fractures require knowledge from responses of geological materials beyond the typical ranges of confining pressure, temperature range, and loading rates in classical soil and rock mechanics. This modern development motivates the incorporations of seismology, continuum mechanics, discrete mechanics, transport phenomena, physical (centrifuge)  and numerical modelings for geomechanics applications.


Led by Professors Hoe Ling and Steve Sun, the department's research in geotechnical engineering and geomechanics has recently focused on the following representative projects:

  • Soil behavior
  • Constitutive modeling
  • Centrifuge modeling
  • Reinforced soil structures
  • Excavation and tunneling
  • Geotechnical earthquake engineering
  • Liquefaction
  • Numerical analysis of geotechnical systems
  • High-strain-rate responses of wetted granular materials
  • Hydraulic and chemo-driven fractures in geological materials
  • Geological disposal of nuclear waste in crystalline salt
  • Higher-order micropolar mechanics of geomaterials