What is geotechnical engineering and what exactly does a geotechnical engineer do?

What is geotechnical engineering and what exactly does a geotechnical engineer do?

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Geotechnical engineering is not a very commonly known branch of engineering. But its importance and benefits are undeniable. It deals with the study of soil and land and its behavior and interaction with water and other natural phenomena.

Soil not only includes sand and mud but also other geo materials. Therefore the job of a geotechnical engineer is a wide range of services. From investigation and evaluation to designing and construction, geotechnical engineer has a lot on their belts. They don’t usually work individually, but under companies in the form of teams and handle complete projects. Following are some of the jobs of a geotechnical engineer.

Settlement analysis

After a building is constructed, the soil around the foundations of the building settles itself according to the load. This settlement depends upon the weight of the building which is usually determined by the stone type used in its construction.

A geotechnical engineer is then called to analyze the condition of the settlement and execute required procedures such as pre-loading etc. to control the scenario.

Pavement performance

Pavement failures are also a common problem these days. Heavy vehicle stress, underground water, and various other issues cause pavement failure. To avoid this situation, a geotechnical engineer analyzes the soil conditions, underground water levels, and other parameters to decide if the construction is possible or not.

Excavation and retaining structures

This service refers to the hindering of soil and water from collapsing or damaging surrounding areas. Call it a failure of planning or a natural complication, but these incidents happen now and then. A geotechnical engineer is then supposed to call off the threat and find a suitable solution as quickly as possible.

Micro tunneling

Another service range of a geotechnical engineer is related to construction. Micro tunneling is the creation of an underground sewerage system. This is usually done in areas where a normal construction worker would not be able to work well. Wetlands and mud soil are very hard to work with for construction. a geotechnical engineer is called for such areas for installing large pipes. The main procedure is remotely controlled but still lies under the services of geotechnical engineering.

Site classification

This is usually done to sample the soil into categories that are either used afterward for various construction planning. This is often done by the government as well to keep track of the variety of land they have or to plan their land utilization schemes accordingly. Reports generated by a geotechnical engineer are considered valid for a long time until there is a constructional change in the area or a natural difference such as plantation of trees, flooding, etc.


Geotechnical engineering is a vast field, covering very important services and jobs. Like other engineering dimensions, geotechnical has also advanced drastically throughout the years with the development of many useful hardware tools and software systems that have simplified the work of a geotechnical engineer by ten folds. In short, geotechnical engineering is the foundation of construction activities and a critically important domain of engineering.

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