Predictive Soil Mechanics contains the papers from the symposium held in Oxford in 1992 to commemorate Peter Wroth. With contributions from many of Wroth's friends and colleagues, it is a fitting tribute to an eminent engineer who inspired and encouraged others to carry his ideas forward. Wroth's clear thinking was central to the development of the unifying concepts of critical state soil mechanics as a framework for understanding soil behaviour, interpreting laboratory and in situ tests and making predictions of full-scale performance. It is these themes that were addressed in the symposium.
Our capacity to make improved predictions of full-scale performance depends on our ability to develop appropriate models of soil behaviour and to measure the necessary parameters. Practitioners may feel that the concepts of critical state soil mechanics are too abstract to be relevant to everyday geotechnical engineering and thus might shy away from reading these papers. What a mistake they are making! Without an open mind to new developments there is a great danger that geotechnical engineering practice is reduced to the application of rules of thumb.
Two thirds of the papers relate to the measurement of appropriate soil properties by laboratory or in situ tests. A number of papers focus on the interpretation of self-boring pressuremeter, push-in pressuremeter, piezocone, and dilatometer tests, grappling with the difficulties of interpreting tests in which the boundaries of the problem are unknown and uncontrolled. Difficulties of using seismic tomography in site investigation are discussed. Laboratory testing has its own difficulties too.