From Foundation Engineering Handbook: Design and Construction with the 2006 International Building Code


Geotechnical earthquake engineering can be defined as that subspecialty within the field of geotechnical engineering that deals with the design and construction of projects in order to resist the effects of earthquakes. Geotechnical earthquake engineering requires an understanding of basic geotechnical principles as well as an understanding of geology, seismology, and earthquake engineering. In a broad sense, seismology can be defined as the study of earthquakes. This would include the internal behavior of the earth and the nature of seismic waves generated by the earthquake.

For geotechnical earthquake engineering of soils and foundations, the types of activities that may need to be performed by the geotechnical engineer include the following:

  • Subsurface exploration for geotechnical earthquake engineering, i.e., the screening investigation and the quantitative evaluation (see Sec. 2.8)

  • Total stress and effective stress analyses for geotechnical earthquake engineering (see Sec. 4.6.6)

  • Bearing capacity analyses for geotechnical earthquake engineering (see Sec. 6.5)

  • For the design earthquake, determining the peak ground acceleration and magnitude of the earthquake (Sec. 13.3)

  • Investigating the possibility of liquefaction at the site (Sec. 13.4)

  • Investigating the stability of slopes for the additional forces imposed during the design earthquake (Sec. 13.5)

  • Calculating the settlement of the foundation caused by the design earthquake (Sec. 14.3)

  • Performing calculations to assess the effect of the earthquake on retaining walls (Sec. 14.4)

  • Considering foundation alternatives to mitigate the effects of earthquakes (Sec. 14.5)

A list of terms and definitions as applied to geotechnical earthquake engineering is presented in App.

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Geophysical instruments are used for geological study, including rock and soil mechanics, core analysis and surveys of the earth.
Geotechnical Services
Geotechnical engineering services includes soil, rock and subsurface testing and analysis for site feasibility, foundations, embankments, pavements, retention structures, and other earthworks projects.
Civil Engineering Services
Civil engineering services design and build public and private-sector structures such as bridges, roads, dams, and highways.
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Topics of Interest

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