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Unit information: Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Geotechnics in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Geotechnics
Unit code CENGM0039
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Mylonakis
Open unit status Not open

Structural Engineering 3 (or equivalent)

Geotechnics 3 (or equivalent)



School/department Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


  1. To develop students’ awareness of earthquake hazards and provide them with understanding of their engineering aspects;
  2. To develop students’ awareness of the significance of geotechnical conditions on the seismic performance of civil engineering systems and enable them to employ basic earthquake engineering design methodologies, having realized their underlying principles;
  3. To prepare the students for the challenges of the forthcoming expansion of engineering infrastructures into areas of high seismicity and poor geotechnical conditions


  • Single-Degree-of-Freedom Dynamics (displacement, velocity, acceleration, pseudo-velocity and pseudo-acceleration spectra)
  • Wave propagation (P-, S-, Rayleigh and Love waves, shear wave velocity measurement, crosshole & downhole testing)
  • Soil amplification (analytical approximations and numerical modelling, effects of non-linear soil behaviour, correspondence with Eurocode 8 soil categories)
  • Seismic slope stability (Newmark’s sliding block, performance-based design)
  • Seismic design of retaining structures (seismic soil and hydrodynamic pressures)
  • Dynamic soil-structure interaction for shallow and pile foundations
  • Liquefaction (definition, effects, susceptibility analysis, remedial measures)

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the course, successful students will:

ULO 1. Be able to explain the engineering (non-seismological) aspects of earthquake ground motions and be able to incorporate them into design (PLO A1, A2, B2, C1)

ULO 2. Be able to explain how to obtain the necessary soil characteristics, in order to classify a site in terms of seismic response (PLO A2, B2, C1)

ULO 3. Be able to explain how subsoil conditions affect ground motion characteristics and be able to quantify this effect for engineering design purposes (PLO A2, B5, C1)

ULO 4.Be able to relate the basic principles of non-linear dynamics (PLO A1, A2, B4)

ULO 5. Be able to assess slope stability and design retaining structures taking into account seismic actions (PLO A2, B5, C1)

ULO 6. Be able to restate the concept and the significance of performance-based design (PLO A2, B4, B5)

ULO 7. Be able to explain the principles of dynamic soil-foundation-structure interaction (PLO A2, B5, C1, C3)

ULO 8. Be able to relate of liquefaction-related hazards and able to assess liquefaction susceptibility, quantify its effects and design the appropriate mitigation measures (PLO A2, B4, C1)

Teaching details

20 hours lectures

2 hours computer lab

Assessment Details

25% Coursework - Use of a simple computer program to classify a site in terms of seismic response, and compare the predicted soil behaviour against the corresponding EC8 design requirements.

10% Presentation - recent earthquake case-study, with emphasis on the role of geotechnics in the behaviour of civil engineering systems.

65% 2-hour examination

Reading and References

  1. Steven L. Kramer: “Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering”, Prentice-Hall, ISBN-13: 978-0133749434
  2. Anil K. Chopra: “Dynamics of Structures”, Prentice Hall, ISBN-13: 978-0131561748
  3. EuroCode 8 (Available on-line via the University Library)