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An Introduction to Settlement and Volume Expansion in Soils

COURSE NO: G04-009
An Introduction to Settlement and Volume Expansion in Soils
Course Highlights

This online engineering PDH course provides an introduction to methods and techniques for estimating soil settlement and expansion when designing footings and foundations for buildings and other structures. It addresses (a) immediate settlements, (b) long-term settlements, (c) rate of settlement, (d) criteria for tolerable settlement, (e) methods of reducing or accelerating settlements for saturated fine-grained soils and (f) methods for controlling and/or estimating heave in swelling soils. Procedures given are for fine-grained compressible soils as well as for coarse-grained soils.


The settlement of saturated cohesive soil consists of the sum of three components; (1) immediate settlement occurring as the load is applied, (2) consolidation settlement occurring gradually as excess pore pressures generated by loads are dissipated, and (3) secondary compression essentially controlled by the composition and structure of the soil skeleton.  The settlement of coarse-grained granular soils subjected to foundation loads occurs primarily from the compression of the soil skeleton due to rearrangement of particles. The permeability of coarse-grained soil is large enough to justify the assumption of immediate excess pore pressure dissipation upon application of load. Settlement of coarse-grained soil can also be induced by vibratory ground motion due to earthquakes, blasting or machinery, or by soaking and submergence.


This 4 PDH online course is intended for civil engineers, structural engineers, geotechnical engineers, geologists and other design and construction professionals seeking an introduction to methods and techniques for analyzing and designing for soil settlement and expansion for foundations and footings for buildings and structures.

Learning Objectives

This PE continuing education course is intended to provide you with the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Learning about the three components of soil settlement
  • Understanding how superimposed loads cause pore pressures to increase, forcing water from compressible stratum which decreases volume and causes settlement
  • Understanding how stresses exceeding the present effective vertical pressure of overburden produce preconsolidation
  • Learning about the mechanisms of settlement for coarse-grained soils
  • Learning how to use shape and rigidity factors to calculate settlements of points at the surface of an elastic half-space
  • Learning how to calculate the magnitude of immediate settlement in clay
  • Learning how to calculate instantaneous settlement of isolated footings on coarse-grained soils
  • Understanding how the typical loading cycle during building construction may cause swell and heave during foundation excavation, followed by application of the structural load which recompresses subsoil and may extend consolidation into the virgin range
  • Learning how to use pressure-void ratio diagrams
  • Learning how to correct settlement calculations for overconsolidated clays that may give an overestimate of the settlement
  • Knowing the relationship between the Settlement Ratio and the overconsolidation Ratio
  • Learning about the relationship between initial shear stress and the overconsolidation ratio
  • Learning about the time rate of primary consolidation
Course Document

In this professional engineering CEU course, you need to review the course document titled, "An Introduction to Volume and Settlement Expansion".

To view, print and study the course document, please click on the following link(s):
An Introduction to Settlement and Volume Expansion in Soils (3.81 MB)
Course Quiz
Once you complete your course review, you need to take a multiple-choice quiz consisting of twenty (25) questions to earn 4 PDH credits. The quiz will be based on the entire document.
The minimum passing score is 70%. There is no time limit on the quiz, and you can take it multiple times until you pass at no additional cost.
Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the quiz, print your Certificate of Completion instantly. (Note: if you are paying by check or money order, you will be able to print it after we receive your payment.) For your convenience, we will also email it to you. Please note that you can log in to your account at any time to access and print your Certificate of Completion.

To buy the course and take the quiz, please click on: