Department of Earth Science |Northeastern Illinois University


ESCI 340

What will you take from this course?   Course Outcomes and Objectives                                 Dr. Sanders

By the end of this course, you should be able to do the following:

Basic Geology

    * Describe characteristics of the three major classes of rocks, and their major sub-types.

    * Describe six major environments of soil formation and the characteristics of soils that form in each.
    * Describe the engineering importance of discontinuities such as fractures, joints, and bedding planes.
    * Use the orientation of discontinuities to assess the possibility of slope instability.

Engineering Properties of Soil

    * Define and describe the major engineering properties of soil, such as moisture content, degree of saturation, void ratio, porosity, unit weight, density, and the like.

    * Estimate engineering properties of a soil using grain size distribution data.

Soil Classification and Description

    * Classify soil using the USDA, AASHTO, and USCS systems, based on grain size distribution, Atterberg limits, and visual-manual classification.

    * Write a field description of a soil sample.

Site Exploration

    * Conduct a site exploration using techniques of literature search, aerial photographs, and field reconnaissance.

    * Describe and recognize different techniques of subsurface exploration (e.g. hand augering, solid stem augering, hollow stem augering, rock coring).
    * Specify the number, type, and depth of soil borings to be made at a site.
    * Describe subsurface sampling techniques (e.g. Shelby tube, heavy-walled samplers).
    * Describe the Standard Penetration Test, and interpret SPT results.
    * Use data from boring logs to construct a geologic cross section.


    * Describe the steps involved in earthwork.
    * Identify various pieces of heavy equipment used in earthwork.
    * Describe the Proctor compaction test and interpret test results.

Ground Water

    * Describe the hydrologic cycle.

    * Explain why ground water flows (even uphill sometimes!)
    * List and describe the factors that determine what direction and how rapidly ground water flows.
    * Explain why and how ground water is important in geotechnical engineering projects.

Quantitative Skills

   * Solve geomathematical problems involving varied and diverse units of measurement, and be able to convert between units
   * Using quantitative terms, formulate mathematical expressions for and solutions to problems related to water flow rates, discharge rates, volumes, areas, and depths
   * Apply the following quantitative skills: algebraic manipulation, use of scientific notation, use of exponents and logarithms, construction and interpretation of graphs, contouring, interpolation and extrapolation, and use of significant figures

Critical Thinking/ Non-Content-Based Skills

   * Evaluate the validity and reliability of disparate data sources, especially when they provide conflicting information
   * Evaluate quantitative solutions to geotechnical engineering problems to determine if they fall within a reasonable range of values
   * Evaluate quantitative solutions to geotechnical engineering problems to estimate sources of uncertainty and magnitude of error.

Department of Earth Science | Northeastern Illinois University

© 2007 Laura L. Sanders.  Last updated January 9, 2007.