Biography of Karl Terzaghi (1883 - 1963) ~ Geotechnical talks

Friday, January 30, 2009

Biography of Karl Terzaghi (1883 - 1963)

This post is devoted to Karl Terzaghi. Karl Terzaghi who is known as father of geotechnical engineering is among my favorites. His concepts of soil and its behavior had given this world entirely new outlook towards soil mechanics. I would like to post brief history of Karl Terzaghi.

Biography of Karl Terzaghi:
Karl Terzaghi was born in Prague on 2nd October1883. In 1904, he graduated from the Technische Hochschule in Graz, Austria, with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. After his graduation he served one year in the Austrian army. Following his army service, Terzaghi studied one more year, concentrating on geological subjects. In 1908, his first job was as a junior design engineer for the firm Adol Baron Pittle, Vienna. And Karl became involved in the geological problems the firm faced. He went on with great success to an even more chaotic project in St. Petersburg. During the six months in Russia, he developed some novel graphical methods for the design of industrial tanks, which he submitted as a thesis for his doctorate at the University. In January 1912, he received the degree of Doctor of Technical Sciences from his alma mater in Graz. In America, on his own, he undertook an engineering tour of major dam construction sites in the West. This was no ordinary tour, but was his opportunity to gather reports and first-hand knowledge of the problems of many different projects, and he used it to the fullest before returning to Austria in December 1913. When war broke out, he found himself drafted into the army as an officer directing a 250 man engineering battalion. His responsibilities again increased, leading now 1000 men, and he faced combat in Serbia and witnessed the fall of Belgrade. After a short stint managing an airfield, in 1916 he became a professor in the Imperial School of Engineers in Istanbul. He set up a laboratory using only the most rudimentary of equipment, and began his revolution. His measurements and analysis of the force on retaining walls were first published in English in 1919, and was quickly recognized as an important new contribution to the scientific understanding of the fundamental behavior of soils. After the end of World War I, he accepted a lectureship at the American Robert College in Istanbul (1918–1925). There he began his research work on the behavior of soils and settlement of clays and on the failure due to piping in sand under dams. In 1924 he published much of this in his Magnum Opus, Erdbaumechanik which revolutionized the field to great acclaim. It resulted in a job offer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT), which he immediately accepted. 1925-1929 he had done Lectureship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of his first tasks in the USA was to bring his work to the attention of engineers. This he proceeded to do by writing a series of articles for the Engineering News Record, which were published in the winter of 1925, then as a small book in 1926. In 1928 he met the young Harvard doctoral student in geology, Ruth Dogget, and fell deeply in love. In 1929 he accepted a chair at the Vienna Technische Hochshule. He married Ruth, who became his editor and collaborator as well. In 1938 Terzaghi emigrated to the United States and took up a post at Harvard University. Before the end of the war, he consulted on the Chicago Subway system, the New Port News Shipways construction, and raising the Normandie, among others. He became an American citizen in March 1943. He remained as a part-timer at Harvard university until his retirement in 1953 at the mandatory age of 70. In July of the next year, he became the chairman of the Consulting Board for the construction of the Aswan High Dam. He resigned this post in 1959 after coming into conflict with the Russian engineers in charge of the project, but continued to consult on various hydroelectric projects, especially in British Columbia. The American Society Of Civil Engineers established in 1960 the Karl Terzaghi Award to an "author of outstanding contributions to knowledge in the fields of soil mechanics, subsurface and earthwork engineering, and subsurface and earthwork constructionMap of Egypt showing the location of Aswan and Lake Nasser. On October 25, 1963 he died in Winchester, Massachusetts

Terzaghi, K., "Large Retaining Wall Tests", Engineering News Record Feb.1, March 8, April 19 (1934).
Terzaghi, K., Theoretical Soil Mechanics, John Wiley and Sons, New York (1943).
Terzaghi, K., Proctor, R. V. and White, T. L., "Rock Tunneling with Steel Supports," Commercial Shearing and Stamping Co. (1946).
Terzaghi, K., From theory to practice in soil mechanics;: Selections from the writings of Karl Terzaghi, with bibliography and contributions on his life and achievents John Wiley and Sons (1967).
Terzaghi, K., American Society of Civil Engineers, "Terzaghi Lectures, 1974-1982," American Society of Civil Engineers (1986).
Terzaghi, K., Peck, R. B. and Mesri, G., Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice, 3rd Ed. Wiley-Interscience (1996).

R. E. Goodman, Karl Terzaghi, American Society of Civil Engineers, 1999.


Newer Post Older Post Home


2009 @ Sandeep Sahu | Contact the webmaster