Soil Mechanics

Base Knowledge

It is recommended that students have previously attended and otained approval in Geotechnics course unit.

Teaching Methodologies

Theoretical-practical classes use the expository and inquisitive method to explain theoretical subjects and solve exercises in groups and individually.

In laboratory classes, soil tests are carried out and students must submit reports on two of the tests. The flipped classroom methodology will preferably be implemented, with students preparing the test procedures for execution. The teacher and laboratory technician only supervise the various operations. In tutorial classes, the students are monitored by clarifying doubts, solving exercises and guiding them through the processing of test results.

Learning Results

The specific objectives of the course are

  • Evaluate the state of stress in earth masses.
  • Evaluate the strength, compressibility and permeability of soils.
  • Estimate settlements due to consolidation.
  • Determine geotechnical parameters from laboratory tests.

The generic competences to be obtained in this course are:

  • Implementing knowledge to solve problems.
  • Justifying decision-making in new situations.
  • Developing autonomous and teamwork skills, as well as communication skills.

The specific competences to be obtained in this curricular unit are:

  • Formulate the theoretical and practical concepts of soil mechanics
  • Develop working skills in a laboratory environment.
  • Estimate geotechnical properties from laboratory elements.
  • Evaluate the state of stress-strain-resistance of soils



1 Soil water: water-bearing; pore water pressure; Bernoulli ?s theorem applied to pore water; Darcy ?s law; coefficient of permeability.
2. In situ stresses due to self-weight of soil: total and effective normal stresses and pore water pressure; principle of effective stress; coefficient of earth at rest. In situ stresses due to surface loads: Boussinesq ?s theory, practical situations; bulb of pressures.
3. Compressibility and consolidation: the oedometer test; consolitation settlement; Terzaghi ?s theory of one- dimensional consolidation; time settlement; secondary compression; methods to increase consolidation.
4. Shear strength: failure criterions of Mohr-Coulomb and Tresca; shear strength parameters (total and effective stress); shear strength in sands and in saturated clays; Skempton’s coefficients; shear strength tests: direct shear test, triaxial test and Vane shear test.
Practical activities: constant-head permeametre test, oedometer test and shear strengh tests.

Curricular Unit Teachers




Craig, R. F. (1977). Soil Mechanics. (6 ed.). London, UK: Ed. VNR International. London. (7-8-117 (ISEC) – 08635)
Cruz, F. (2016). 
Mecânica dos Solos [Apontamentos teóricos]. ISEC, Portugal (in Portuguese).
Cruz, F. (2016). Mecânica dos Solos [Problemas]. ISEC, Portugal (in Portuguese).
Cruz, F (2016). Mecânica dos Solos [Diapositivos PowerPoint de lições]. ISEC, Portugal (in Portuguese).
Das, B. M. (2006). Principles of Geotechnical Engineering (6 ed.). USA: Ed Cengage Learning. (7-8-170 (ISEC) – 15064)
Fernandes, M. M.(2006). Mecânica dos Solos – vol. 1: Conceitos e Princípios Fundamentais. Porto, Portugal: FEUP edições (in Portuguese). (7-8-159 (ISEC) V.1o v. – 14004)
Folque, J. (1996). Introdução à Mecânica dos Solos. (2a ed.). Lisboa, Portugal: Ed. LNEC (in Portuguese). (7-8- 118 (ISEC) – 09058)
Vargas, M. (1977). Introdução à Mecânica dos Solos. São Paulo: Brasil: Ed. McGraw-Hill (in Portuguese). (7-8- 63 (ISEC) – 01246)