29 Geotechnics & Soil Mechanics

HNC/HND Construction and the Built Environment 2
Higher National Certificate/Diploma in
Construction and the Built Environment
Assignment Brief

Student Name/ID Number
Unit Number and Title 29 Geotechnics & Soil Mechanics
Academic Year 2020 – 2021
Unit Tutor Dr. S. Tovi
Assignment Title Assignment
Issue Date 24th October 2020
Submission Date 19st December 2020
IV Name & Date F. Khan, V.Oke and S. Samad
Unit Learning Outcomes
LO1 Review rock types,their formation and civil engineering
LO2 Explore and classify soils to current codes of practice.
LO3 Analyse soil properties determined by geotechnical procedures.
LO4 Produce a proposal to address identified geotechnical weaknesses and problems.
Assignment Brief and Guidance
It is necessary to reopen a mine under the sea to extract potash. There is a flat area on the site near to the beach
which was used in the past as a logistic center for the mine to bring in supplies and export the potash inland. This
area is only about 4 m above mean sea level. The soil below this area is mainly soft sand with some made ground
and some ridges of clay. A short distance inland from this area there are some steep rocky hills and two abandoned
quarries. You have just started working with this company and are part of the team that is making preparations for
developing the mine and the logistics area.
Task 1
a) State the three main classes of rock and outline the main features of their formation
b) Give one example of how each type of rock is used in construction
c) Briefly outline the Bowen Series of rock classification and indicate to what extent this can explain the
weathering characteristics of rocks
d) What are the most important mechanical characteristics of rocks used in the following situations:
i) as foundations for roads
ii) as facings for structures
iii) as aggregate for concrete

HNC/HND Construction and the Built Environment 3

iv) as building stone.
e) Outline where soil is used as a construction material and compare this with alternative materials that could
be used such as in a dam
f) Explain the difference in strength between rock mass and the same material taken out of a quarry
g) How is this shown in the RQD assessment of rock strength?
h) Analyze case studies involving tunneling and the problems posed by the discontinuous nature of rock mass
Task 2
a) Briefly explain what a brownfield site is and how this differs from other sites.
b) How would you approach a ground survey in a brown filed site and show how this might differ from a
ground survey on other sites.
c) Explain the difference between a disturbed and an undisturbed soil sample
d) Outline the laboratory tests that can be done only on undisturbed samples
e) Outline how soils are classified
f) How is plasticity used in the classification of soils?
g) Discuss the sampling of soil in situ giving an example of the measurement of bulk density and also of shear
h) Discuss the relative merits of in situ testing and laboratory
i) Evaluate how much soil sampling is needed in a soil survey on a site and what are the dangers of too little or
too much sampling?
Task 3.
a) Outline briefly how you would measure the following from an in-situ sample:
 soil moisture content
 bulk density and
 specific gravity
b) Outline briefly a method of measuring shear strength in-situ and one method used in the laboratory. Discuss
the limitations of this test with respect to the type of soil under test
c) Briefly outline how soil compressibility is measured in the laboratory and discuss the importance of time in
this measurement.
d) Outline the principle behind the California Bearing Test
e) State how the liquid limit and the plastic limit are measured in the laboratory and state the results we
obtained from the laboratory tests carried out.
f) The following results were obtained during a test of the liquid limit of a clay rich soil. Calculate the liquid
limit and compare the reliability and reproducibility of this test to the standard test for plastic limit.
gMass of
dry soil
percent15 3.46 10.5819 3.86 10.71

HNC/HND Construction and the Built Environment 4

21 4.49 11.7926 3.94 11.9731 5.93 10.57
Task 4 Address the problem of keeping the logistic area dry even during the highest tides. Occasionally tides as
high as 7m above mean sea level area experienced here when there is a Spring tide (a very high tide) together with a
strong on shore wind.
a) Outline your solution and
b) Outline what the geotechnical weaknesses are within the logistics area
c) Briefly suggest the site survey needed
d) show what foundations are needed to support and protect the area.
End of Assignment

Advice on presenting this assignment.
In Task 1 and in other tasks where you are quoting from published information such as ACOP’s please
reference your sources using the Harvard Referencing system.
This assignment should be presented in the form of a report with each task a new main heading and each
part of the question a sub-heading
Do look at the pass criteria at the end of this assignment, you will see which parts of each task apply to the
pass criteria, which to the merit and which to the distinction

Pass Merit Distinction
LO1 Evaluate rock types, their formation and uses within
civil engineering
P1 Discuss rock type
formation and classification,
susceptibility to weathering
and the weathering
P2 Analyse the
discontinuous nature of rock
M1 Evaluate the use of rock
and uncemented sediments
within civil engineering.
D1 Critically analyse example that
address problems caused by the
discontinuous nature of rock mass
when tunnelling and constructing
bridges, using case studies as

HNC/HND Construction and the Built Environment 5

LO2 Explore and classify soils to current codes of practice
P3 Explore methods and
techniques used in ground
and site investigation, soil
sampling, soil descriptions
and soil classifications to
current codes of practice.
P4 Explore how soils are
classified from soil particle
size, soil types, specific
gravity and plasticity
indices to current codes of
M2 Evaluate methods and
techniques used in ground
and site investigation and
soil sampling.
D2 Assess the importance of
site investigation, soil sampling
and determination of
soil properties for infrastructure
Pass Merit Distinction
LO3 Analyse soil properties determined by geotechnical
P5 Evaluate how soil
properties are determined,
including moisture content,
density, specific gravity,
shear strength
compressibility, liquid and
plasticity indices,
California bearing ratio.
M3 Analyse results from
soil properties testing.
D3 Integrate test data to inform the
development of design proposals.
LO4 Produce a proposal to address identified geotechnical
weaknesses and problems

HNC/HND Construction and the Built Environment 6

P6 Produce design
proposals to address
geotechnical problems
related to
embankments, bridge
and road foundations for
a given site.
M4 Justify the approach to a
design proposal in meeting
identified geotechnical

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