We cannot predict the behavior of soil and rock in engineering works today with nearly the confidence that we can predict the behaviors of steel, concrete, wood, and other common building materials. This is not altogether surprising when we consider that soil deposits and formations are developed by many and aried geological processes and, therefore, are seldom homogeneous and are made up of components that have a variety of characteristics. Basically, soil and rock mechanics engineers must deal with the materials as they exist, because it is normally not economically possible to make major modifications to their physical properties. Thus, the job of soil and rock mechanics engineers is one of investigation to determine the properties of the material and the reactions of the masses to imposed conditions.
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