Settlements of Clays


As the saying goes, we must pay tribute to tradition, and discuss settlement of clays first. Personally I would prefer to discuss sands and granular materials first, but Karl Terzaghi introduced modern soil mechanics to the United States in 1925 with eight papers (Terzaghi, 1925), the first six discussing clays. He didn't introduce a discussion about the properties of sandy soils until the seventh paper, and even then sand didn't get top billing in the seventh paper because Terzaghi discussed the differences between sands and clays. Who am I to break with this tradition?

3.1.1 A Brief Geotechnical History and Overview of Clay Settlement

Some stories are handed down from father to son to grandson and become family oral history. These stories are not intended to be closely researched and analyzed; rather they are stories that are intended to make an impact on the family. My first geotechnical mentor Neil Mason was a student of Terzaghi's at Harvard University, and he told me this story. If Terzaghi is the father of soil mechanics, and Neil Mason is one of his student sons, does that make me a grandson of soil mechanics?

Working example

Terzaghi was working on a concrete dam in Europe that failed. Initially the dam was fine, but with time it settled and cracked. Part of the problem was piping and part of the problem was consolidation and shear strength of clayey soils. Terzaghi was very upset with the late nineteenth century technology used ...

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