Environmental Science, Policy & Engineering Program

Fall 2021

Geoenvironmental Applications


Professor Dr. Ashraf Ghaly, P.E.
Department Engineering
Office Olin 102D
Tel., email 518-388-6515, ghalya@union.edu

Lectures: TTH 10:55 AM - 12:40 PM, OLIN-306. Lab: TH 1:55 - 4:45 PM, OLIN-306. Click HERE for class presentation.


ENS-252. Geoenvironmental Applications: This course introduces field applications related to soil and water. It explores the natural characteristics and testing of soil as a construction material and as a bearing layer. It covers seepage analysis, aquifers, and well fields. It details the components of containment systems for waste disposal to alleviate environmental pollution and contamination. It also presents the basics of water movement in closed conduits and in open channels, and the development of supply networks. For labs, students gain experience in utilizing industry-standard testing methods of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Tests include soil classification, composition, flow and permeability, compaction, compressibility, strength, slope stability, and environmental geotechnology with focus on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) design specifications. Prerequisite(s): Prerequisites: MTH-112 or higher, and PHY-120 or higher. Corequisite(s): ENS 252L CC: SCLB Lecture/Lab Hours Three class hours and a weekly lab.


Assignments = 25%

Lab Reports = 20%

Mid Term Test (6th week) = 20%

Project = 15%

Final Examination = 20%

90+ = A 85+ = A(-) 80+ = B(+) 75+ = B 70+ = B(-) 65+ = C(+) 60+ = C 55+ = C(-) 50+ = D




Soil Exploration

  •             Common Methods of Sampling

Soils and Rocks

  •             Rock Cycle and the Origin of Soil
  •             Soil Particles
  •             Clay Minerals
  •             Mechanical Analysis of Soil
  •             Effective Size, Uniformity Coefficient, and Coefficient of Gradation

Soil Composition

  •             Weight-Volume Relationships
  •             Unit Weight, Void Ratio, Moisture Content, and Specific Gravity Relationships
  •             Unit Weight, Porosity, and Moisture Content Relationships
  •             Relative Density
  •             Consistency of Soils
  •             Unified Soil Classification System

Soil Compaction

  •             General Principles
  •             Standard Proctor Test
  •             Factors Affecting Compaction
  •             Modified Proctor Test
  •             ASTM and AASHTO Specifications for Compaction Test
  •             Structure of Compacted Cohesive Soil
  •             Effect of Compaction on Cohesive Soil Properties
  •             Field Compaction
  •             Specifications for Field Compaction
  •             Determination of Field Unit Weight of Compaction
  •             Special Compaction Techniques
  •             Soil stabilization and deep mixing
  •             Environmental remediation

Flow of Water in Soil: Permeability and Seepage

  •             Hydraulic Gradient
  •             Darcy's Law
  •             Coefficient of Permeability
  •             Laboratory Determination of the Coefficient of Permeability
  •             Effect of Temperature on Coefficient of Permeability
  •             Equivalent Permeability in Stratified Soils
  •             Permeability Test in Field by Pumping From Wells
  •             Coefficient of Permeability from Auger Holes
  •             Equation of Continuity
  •             Flow Nets
  •             Uplift Pressure under Hydraulic Structures

Effective Stress Concept

  •             Stresses in Saturated Soil without Seepage
  •             Stresses in Saturated Soil with Seepage
  •             Seepage Force
  •             Heaving in Soil due to Flow around Sheet Piles
  •             Effective Stress in Partially Saturated Soil
  •             Capillary Rise in Soil
  •             Effective Stress in the Zone of the Capillary Rise

Determination of Shear Strength Parameters for Soils in the Laboratory

  •             Triaxial Shear Test
  •             Unconfined Compression Test of Saturated Clay
  •             Sensitivity and Thixotropy of Clay

Compressibility of Soil

  •             Fundamentals of Consolidation
  •             One-Dimensional Laboratory Consolidation Test
  •             Void Ratio Pressure Plots
  •             Normally Consolidated and Overconsolidated Clays
  •             Effect of Disturbance on Void Ratio-Pressure Relationship
  •             Influence of Other Factors on e-log p Relationship
  •             Calculation of Settlement due to One-Dimensional Primary Consolidation
  •             Compression Index
  •             Swell Index
  •             Settlement due to Secondary Consolidation
  •             Time Rate of Consolidation
  •             Coefficient of Consolidation

Designing with Geosynthetics

Allowable versus ultimate geotextile properties

  •          Strength-related problems
  •          Flow-related problems

Designing for separation

  •          Overview of applications
  •          Burst resistance
  •          Tensile strength requirement
  •          Puncture resistance
  •          Impact (Tear) resistance

Designing for roadway reinforcement

  •          Unpaved roads
  •          Membrane-encapsulated soils
  •          Paved roads

Designing for soil reinforcement

  •          Geotextile reinforced walls
  •          Geotextile reinforced embankments

Designing for filtration

  •          Overview of applications
  •          General behavior
  •          Geotextiles behind retaining walls
  •          Geotextiles around underdrains
  •          Geotextiles beneath erosion control structures
  •          Geotextile silt fences

Design for drainage

  •          Overview of applications
  •          General behavior
  •          Gravity drainage design
  •          Pressure drainage design
  •          Capillary migration breaks

Designing with geonets

  •          Allowable flow rate

Designing with geonet drainage

  •          Transportation-related applications
  •          Environmental-related applications


Lab (1): Grain size distribution of granular soils (for soil classification).

Lab (2): Atterberg limits of cohesive soils (clay).

Lab (3): Moisture-density relations of soils (compaction test).

Lab (4): Permeability of granular soils (constant head).

Lab (5): Unconfined compressive strength of cohesive soil.

Lab (6): Direct shear test of soils under consolidated drained conditions.

Lab (7): One-dimensional consolidation properties of soils.

Lab (8): Unconsolidated, undrained compressive strength of cohesive soils in triaxial compression.

Lab (9): Testing of Geosynthetics

Lab (10): Applications of Geosynthetics.


Students will work in randomly divided groups. Groups are to submit lab reports showing their specific test results. All group members will get the same grade, therefore it is the group members' collective responsibility to contribute to the effort of report preparation. Any student in any group who wishes to submit his/her own lab report is free to do so and will be graded independently. The lab report shall include a cover page with the names of all partners in the group, course and test titles, and date. The report itself shall contain the objective of the test, procedure, a clear sketch of equipment used, tables of data recorded, presentation of results in charts and graphs, and conclusions. The report should emphasize the technical aspect of the test. Emphasis of grading will be placed on the technical content of the report as well as clarity, creativity, and correctness of writing.



Envirotopia is a research-based project with focus on environmental soil hazards and the efforts made for clean up and remediation. It is also possible to conduct an environmental impact study of a site where a new facility is proposed. Furthermore, one can make site characterization for real estate development the focus of his/her project.

Project Subject

Each student is free to choose the project subject they like to study. Students in this course come from many departments. Students may wish to address in their project a problem that is closely related to their major since soil problems/contamination/pollution has many environmental dimensions. Students may also wish to explore a new field of interest or use a theme of a subject that has intrigued them.

The Geoenvironmental Applications course covers a wide variety of topics. These topics include soil composition, permeability, compaction, shear strength, consolidation, and recent advances in environmental geotechnology. A quick scan of the above topics, one can immediately see that each and every one of these topics requires an in-depth study of soil properties and structure in order to determine the most proper method for efficient clean up and remediation of contaminated soil. This may also be necessary for site characterization and environmental impact studies.

There are numerous examples in the literature of well established as well as experimental methods for site clean up. Students are to report in depth on a project of their choice and explain the rationale behind the selection of the method used and its relationship with the site soil conditions and properties.


Students may collect the scientific and technical information about their chosen project from one or more of the following sources: the Internet, technical publications, professional journals, magazines, textbooks, movies, documentaries, and all other credible sources including interviews with knowledgeable individuals.

Students are required to cite in their report all the sources they used in their research. Internet sites are cited using the address (URL) of those sites. All other references are to be cited with the name of author, year, title of paper or book, page, and publisher.

Progress Report

In the sixth week of the term, each student is required to submit a progress report. This should include the name of the student, title of the paper/project, and a statement describing the subject. The instructor will provide feedback and approve the paper's subject if it involves the expected level of rigor. If more than one student selected the same subject, the instructor will advise these students that different projects are required.


The final electronic paper is due by noon time of Saturday November 9th. The paper should be equivalent to at least 10 pages of text (Word document, 12 point Times font, double-spaced type with one inch margin on all sides). In addition to the 10 pages of text, students may add pictures, tables, graphs, charts, figures, and any other supplementing materials as they see fit. The total length of the paper, however, may not exceed 20 pages.

Grading Criteria

In addition to the written report, students are required to make an oral class presentation. The presentations will take place during the lab time in the tenth week of the term.

The grade in this project will be assigned based on the quality and organization of the report, relevance of content to the problem under consideration, understanding, clarity of presentation, organization, and demonstration of ability to address questions with comprehension.

Professor Ghaly HomepageUnion College Homepage