Resources by Topic

Resources by Topic: Geotechnical


Geotechnical engineering and the related discipline of engineering geology are critical to dam safety and dam engineering. These disciplines encompass understanding and evaluation of soil and rock foundation materials for all types of dams and embankment materials for earthfill and rockfill dams. Issues to be addressed for soil and rock materials can be broadly characterized as strength, deformability, and permeability.


The activities involved in geotechnical engineering and engineering geology for dam safety and dam engineering are numerous. To be proficient in this area one needs to understand and/or have experience in the following areas:

  • Field investigations, both surface and subsurface,
  • Insitu testing, including geophysics,
  • Laboratory testing, including evaluation of index properties and engineering properties,
  • Stability analysis,
  • Seepage analysis, including consideration of internal erosion potential,
  • Settlement and deformation analysis,
  • Structure foundation support evaluation,
  • Specifications for embankment materials,
  • Quality control and quality assurance during construction.

Classroom and Web-Based Training

ASDSO Webinars - Currently available in either archived format or on CD (See Bookstore):

  • Geotechnical Review of Embankment Dams
  • Guidelines for Assigning Erodibility Parameters to Soil Horizons for SITES Analysi
  • Pitfalls in Quality Control Testing for Earth Fill
  • Estimating Permeability Using Empirical Methods
  • Internal Erosion and Piping
  • Applying the Pareto (80/20) Principal to Geotechnical Analyses & Review of Embankment Projects

National Dam Safety Technical Seminar #19: Filters, Drains, and Geotextiles in Dams and Levees. Materials from the seminar, held February 22 - 23, 2012 at FEMA's Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, MD

FERC Workshop: Engineering Geology for Dam Safety (on request)

Self-Directed Training -US Interagency Committee on Dam Safety (ICODS) Series featuring Dam Safety Experts:

  • Ground Improvements for Dam Safety (1999), with James K. Mitchell.
  • Dam Foundations (1996), with D.U. Deere

Additional Training Opportunities: Search the ASDSO Training Directory.

Guidelines and Suggested References

Some of the most highly recommended resources in this area are listed below. For additional resources, search the ASDSO Bibliography. Suggested search terms: embankment dams, guidelines, geology, geotechnical, geophysical, slope stability, soil

Federal Publications

U.S. Interagency Committee on Dam Safety (ICODS)

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Natural Resources Conservation Service/Soil Conservation Service

U.S. Department of Transportation. Federal Highway Administration. National Highway Institute

State Publications
Miscellaneous Publications & Resources

Association of State Dam Safety Officials

American Society of Civil Engineers

U.S. Society on Dams


  • H. R. Cedergren. Seepage, Drainage, and Flow Nets, 3rd edition (1997). Wiley.
  • J. M. Duncan and S. G. Wright. Soil strength and slope stability (2005). Wiley.
  • R. C. Hirschfeld and S. J. Poulos. Embankment dam engineering; Casagrande volume (1973). Wiley.
  • T. W. Lambe and R. V. Whitman. Soil Mechanics (1969). Wiley.
  • H. G. Poulos and E. H. Davis. Elastic Solutions for Soil and Rock Mechanics (1974). Wiley.
  • K. Terzaghi, R. B. Peck and G. Mesri. Soil mechanics in engineering practice (1996). Wiley.
Research Projects
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