Way back in 2001 when I started to teach Soil Mechanics, my goal was to put a textbook in front of my students that was a) free and b) comprehensive. Textbooks at the time were dreadfully expensive, something that hasn’t changed even with the advent of rental and electronic textbooks. The best alternative out there was a relatively new free download, Soil Mechanics by Arnold Verruijt from the University of Delft, with a great deal of accompanying software. It became evident, however, that American students (undergraduates, at least) weren’t quite ready for an e-textbook coming from Europe.
Things have changed over the years:
- Verruijt has revised and improved the basic text over the years.
- It is now in print, revised by S. van Bars, link on the right. (The two aren’t that different, really…) The pricing is very reasonable, a result of the publisher’s philosophy. And the online version does not have digital rights management, which means unrestricted access as a student moves into graduate studies or the workplace.
- The growth in the use of finite element analysis has made Verruijt’s theory of elasticity and plasticity approach important for geotechnical engineers to understand, irrespective of its limitations in soil mechanics.
Verruijt’s book gives a simple, straightforward presentation to the subject of soil mechanics, with some foray into foundations. It covers all of the major subjects in soil mechanics, including Darcy’s Law and permeability, stresses in soil both induced by effective stress and external loading, compression and consolidation, lateral earth pressures and bearing capacity. Includes problems and solutions. The software offered here is a companion to Verruijt’s book.
- Strengths: Presentation of the theory and the basic concepts of soil mechanics is consistent and clear. Graphics are simple but informative.
- Weaknesses: For Americans, Verruijt presents more of a European approach to the subject, which does not always cover methodologies preferred in the U.S. I have addressed this issue by including NAVFAC DM 7 in my required books, but there are other ways to accomplish this. (OTOH, if you’re in Europe, that’s an advantage…)