Geotechnical engineers work with soil and use it as an engineering material. Most civil engineering projects are supported by the ground, or may be under the ground. Geotechnical engineers design foundations for structures, retaining walls to hold back embankments, subgrades for highway and airport pavements, and soil fills for levees, dams, and embankments. They design tunnels and offshore drilling platforms. They also work with environmental engineers to clean up contaminated sites, and analyze seepage of groundwater. Some of the current areas of interest in geotechnical engineering include:
- using geosynthetic fabrics
- developing better methods to predict movement of contaminants through the soil
- using soil stabilization to improve soft, expansive, or collapsible soils
- developing methods to predict soil behavior in earthquakes
The first picture shows a retaining wall, while the second shows a caisson being drilled for a deep foundation for the new Fargo Water Treatment Plant.