January/February 2023 - 88

thinking, which is critical to the
technical aspects of the geotechnical
field, has largely been absent from
studies of its development. It appeared
to the authors that the overall lack of
organization and synthesis of works on
the history of the profession had kept
the knowledge they contained from
being distributed more widely, and that
much of the geotechnical community
had thus been left with a relatively
limited knowledge of its past beyond a
handful of anecdotes about a few
founders. However, it also seemed
evident to the authors that this status
quo was unlikely to change unless the
potential benefits of doing historical
research on the development of
geotechnical engineering could be
made clear.
studies in geotechnical engineering,
most notably several done by Sir Alec
Skempton, had been performed to date.
Objective and Motivation
The authors hypothesized that undertaking
a more organized and systematic
review of geotechnical history, to the
extent they could, might benefit the
technical side of the discipline by
highlighting gaps in the body of
knowledge of the profession. They based
their hypothesis on the long-accepted
nature of technical discovery and
research, which esteemed civil engineer
William Anderson explained well in an
1893 lecture to the Institution of Civil
Engineers in London. " The history of
scientific research, " Anderson noted,
" teems with instances of discoveries
... geotechnical engineers have long valued their shared
professional heritage and have already published many
case histories, literature reviews and articles on
historical topics.
During their initial search, the
authors encountered several databases
of historical geotechnical literature in
addition to the works themselves.
Databases such as Google Scholar
provide references for each work they
include and map the connections
between different works. While these
sites represent powerful tools for
historical research on geotechnical
engineering, they only partially tell the
story of how the discipline was
developed. Accumulating sources and
data such as those on the sites is a
critical part of historical research.
Creating the most useful history
possible from some of these databases,
though, would require considerable
historical judgment to assess, analyze
and contextualize the works and data
cited by such sites in a more organized
format, such as a narrative. The results
of the authors' preliminary search
indicated to them that only a few such
88 * DEEP FOUNDATIONS * JAN/FEB 2023
which at first seemed to have had no
practical value, but which nevertheless
have ultimately proved to be of the
utmost importance to the engineer. " This
quote remains a guiding principle of
research in all branches and subdisciplines
of engineering, including the
geotechnical field, 130 years after
Anderson succinctly articulated it. Karl
Terzaghi himself, widely considered the
founder of geotechnical engineering,
cited Anderson's remark in his own
lecture to the Institution of Civil Engineers
on the emerging science of soil
mechanics in 1939.
Exploring Geotechnical
History, Part I
Once the authors had decided to start
examining the history of the profession
more systematically, they discussed
their plan with several experienced
geotechnical engineers, some in academia
and others in practice. When
these seasoned engineers all supported
the idea, the authors got to work. They
began their studies of geotechnical
history by reviewing 15 articles and
book chapters on geotechnical topics
from the 19th and early 20th centuries,
writing articles on the main points of
each, and posting the articles on a
website they had created. The chosen
sources were selected from anthologies
and bibliographies of vintage geotechnical
works by engineers and groups
who had previously examined the
history of the profession. To avoid the
pitfalls of trying to write a single
overarching narrative on geotechnical
history, the authors started their study
by looking for observations from
individual works, then gradually began
considering potential connections
between them.
The authors enjoyed reading each of
the selected works from geotechnical
history and writing and posting articles
on them from the outset. For instance,
several works reviewed early in the
study showed the origins of various
geotechnical principles including
William Rankine's lateral earth pressure
theory, the influence of relative
density and stress history on the
behavior of sands, the dilatancy of
granular soils and negative pore
pressures, and drained and undrained
soil shear strengths. Yet the authors also
found that their initial reviews were
rewarding mainly as personal experiences
that gave them a sense of
connection to the origins of their
profession. By contrast, the works they
initially reviewed indicated few if any
remaining directions for potential
future technical research in geotechnical
engineering, such as overlooked
ideas or underappreciated sources of
potential error. While the authors
appreciated that the works reviewed
initially had already been pored over by
generations of civil and geotechnical
engineers, they remained somewhat
disappointed to not find, at least
initially, future such avenues of
technical inquiry in their study.

January/February 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of January/February 2023

TOC
January/February 2023 - Intro
January/February 2023 - 1
January/February 2023 - 2
January/February 2023 - TOC
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