This is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behaviour of earth materials. Geotechnical engineering is important in civil engineering, but is also used by military, mining, petroleum or any other engineering concerned with construction on or in the ground.
The work of a geotechnical engineer includes five key activities: desk study or research into existing information, ground investigation (gathering new data), interpretation (understanding new data), analysis and design and construction (or remediation). A typical geotechnical engineering project begins with a review of project needs to define the required material properties. Then follows a site investigation of soil, rock, fault distribution and bedrock properties to determine their engineering properties including how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. Investigations can include the assessment of the risk to humans, property and the environment from natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, sinkholes, soil liqefaction, debris flows and rockfalls. Geotechnical engineering is also related to coastal and ocean engineering.
Prospects are very good because every construction project involves foundation work; many projects involve building on difficult ground such as swamps or hills, and in these areas specialists like geotechnical engineers are required.