Geotechnical investigations are performed by geotechnical engineers or engineering geologists to obtain information on the physical properties of soil earthworks and foundations for proposed structures and for repair of distress to earthworks and structures caused by subsurface conditions. This type of investigation is called a site investigation. Additionally, geotechnical investigations are also used to measure the thermal resistivity of soils or backfill materials required for underground transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines, radioactive waste disposal, and solar thermal storage facilities. A geotechnical investigation will include surface exploration and subsurface exploration of a site. Sometimes, geophysical methods are used to obtain data about sites. Subsurface exploration usually involves soil sampling and laboratory tests of the soil samples retrieved.
Surface exploration can include geologic mapping, geophysical methods, and photogrammetry, or it can be as simple as a geotechnical professional walking around on the site to observe the physical conditions at the site.
To obtain information about the soil conditions below the surface, some form of subsurface exploration is required. Methods of observing the soils below the surface, obtaining samples, and determining physical properties of the soils and rocks include test pits, trenching (particularly for locating faults and slide planes), boring, and in situ tests.
Borings come in two main varieties, large-diameter and small-diameter. Large-diameter borings are rarely used due to safety concerns and expense but are sometimes used to allow a geologist or an engineer to visually and manually examine the soil and rock stratigraphy in-situ. Small-diameter borings are frequently used to allow a geologist or engineer to examine soil or rock cuttings or to retrieve samples at depth using soil samplers, and to perform in-place soil tests.
Soil samples are often categorized as being either disturbed or undisturbed; however, "undisturbed" samples are not truly undisturbed. A disturbed sample is one in which the structure of the soil has been changed sufficiently that tests of structural properties of the soil will not be representative of in-situ conditions, and only properties of the soil grains (e.g., grain size distribution, Atterberg limits, compaction characteristic of soil , to determine the general lithology of soil deposits and possibly the water content) can be accurately determined. An undisturbed sample is one where the condition of the soil in the sample is close enough to the conditions of the soil in-situ to allow tests of structural properties of the soil to be used to approximate the properties of the soil in-situ. Specimen obtained by undisturbed method are used to determine the soil stratification, permeability, density , consolidation and other engineering characteristics.
Offshore soil collection introduces many difficult variables. In shallow water, work can be done off a barge. In deeper water a ship will be required. Deepwater soil samplers are normally variants of Kullenberg-type samplers, a modification on a basic gravity corer using a piston (Lunne and Long, 2006). Seabed samplers are also available, which push the collection tube slowly into the soil.
Soil samples are taken using a variety of samplers; some provide only disturbed samples, while others can provide relatively undisturbed samples.
A flat plate dilatometer test (DMT) is a flat plate probe often advanced using CPT rigs, but can also be advanced from conventional drill rigs. A diaphragm on the plate applies a lateral force to the soil materials and measures the strain induced for various levels of applied stress at the desired depth interval.
In-situ gas tests can be carried out in the boreholes on completion and in probe holes made in the sides of the trial pits as part of the site investigation. Testing is normally with a portable meter, which measures the methane content as its percentage volume in air. The corresponding oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations are also measured. A more accurate method used to monitor over the longer term, consists of gas monitoring standpipes should be installed in boreholes. These typically comprise slotted uPVC pipework surrounded by single sized gravel. The top 0.5 m to 1.0 m of pipework is usually not slotted and is surrounded by bentonite pellets to seal the borehole. Valves are fitted and the installations protected by lockable stopcock covers normally fitted flush with the ground. Monitoring is again with a portable meter and is usually done on a fortnightly or monthly basis.
A wide variety of laboratory tests can be performed on soils to measure a wide variety of soil properties. Some soil properties are intrinsic to the composition of the soil matrix and are not affected by sample disturbance, while other properties depend on the structure of the soil as well as its composition, and can only be effectively tested on relatively undisturbed samples. Some soil tests measure direct properties of the soil, while others measure "index properties" which provide useful information about the soil without directly measuring the property desired.
Geophysical methods are used in geotechnical investigations to evaluate a site's behavior in a seismic event. By measuring a soil's shear wave velocity, the dynamic response of that soil can be estimated. There are a number of methods used to determine a site's shear wave velocity:
Professor Barry Clarke is a British civil engineer. He specialises in geotechnical engineering and is Associate Director of the Institute of Resilient Infrastructure at Leeds University. Clarke has also worked at Cambridge University and at Newcastle University, where he obtained his first degree. He is a prolific writer with more than a hundred research papers and reports to his name and has written a textbook on pressuremeters in engineering applications. Clarke has sat on many construction industry committees and bodies, particularly those associated with engineering education.Borehole
A borehole is a narrow shaft bored in the ground, either vertically or horizontally. A borehole may be constructed for many different purposes, including the extraction of water, other liquids (such as petroleum) or gases (such as natural gas), as part of a geotechnical investigation, environmental site assessment, mineral exploration, temperature measurement, as a pilot hole for installing piers or underground utilities, for geothermal installations, or for underground storage of unwanted substances, e.g. in carbon capture and storage.Direct shear test
A direct shear test is a laboratory or field test used by geotechnical engineers to measure the shear strength properties of soil or rock material, or of discontinuities in soil or rock masses.
The U.S. and U.K. standards defining how the test should be performed are ASTM D 3080, AASHTO T236 and BS 1377-7:1990, respectively. For rock the test is generally restricted to rock with (very) low shear strength. The test is, however, standard practice to establish the shear strength properties of discontinuities in rock.
The test is performed on three or four specimens from a relatively undisturbed soil sample. A specimen is placed in a shear box which has two stacked rings to hold the sample; the contact between the two rings is at approximately the mid-height of the sample. A confining stress is applied vertically to the specimen, and the upper ring is pulled laterally until the sample fails, or through a specified strain. The load applied and the strain induced is recorded at frequent intervals to determine a stress–strain curve for each confining stress. Several specimens are tested at varying confining stresses to determine the shear strength parameters, the soil cohesion (c) and the angle of internal friction, commonly known as friction angle (). The results of the tests on each specimen are plotted on a graph with the peak (or residual) stress on the y-axis and the confining stress on the x-axis. The y-intercept of the curve which fits the test results is the cohesion, and the slope of the line or curve is the friction angle.
Direct shear tests can be performed under several conditions. The sample is normally saturated before the test is run, but can be run at the in-situ moisture content. The rate of strain can be varied to create a test of undrained or drained conditions, depending whether the strain is applied slowly enough for water in the sample to prevent pore-water pressure buildup. Direct shear test machine is required to perform the test. The test using the direct shear machine determinates the consolidated drained shear strength of a soil material in direct shear.
The advantages of the direct shear test over other shear tests are the simplicity of setup and equipment used, and the ability to test under differing saturation, drainage, and consolidation conditions. These advantages have to be weighed against the difficulty of measuring pore-water pressure when testing in undrained conditions, and possible spuriously high results from forcing the failure plane to occur in a specific location.
The test equipment and procedures are slightly different for test on discontinuities.Discontinuity (geotechnical engineering)
A discontinuity in geotechnical engineering (in geotechnical literature often denoted by joint) is a plane or surface that marks a change in physical or chemical characteristics in a soil or rock mass. A discontinuity can be, for example, a bedding, schistosity, foliation, joint, cleavage, fracture, fissure, crack, or fault plane. A division is made between mechanical and integral discontinuities. Discontinuities may occur multiple times with broadly the same mechanical characteristics in a discontinuity set, or may be a single discontinuity. A discontinuity makes a soil or rock mass anisotropic.Ellen Louise Mertz
Ellen Louise Mertz (20 July 1896 — 29 December 1987) was one of Denmark's first female geologists and the country's first engineering geologist.
She undertook pioneering investigative work for the Danish State Railways in the late 1920s in connection with the construction of the Little Belt Bridge (completed in 1929) and was the first to propose what later became the Danish Geotechnical Institute.Fugro
Fugro N.V. is a Dutch multinational public company headquartered in Leidschendam, the Netherlands, that provides geotechnical, survey, subsea, and geoscience services for clients, typically oil and gas, telecommunications cable, and infrastructure companies.
Fugro’s 2014 revenues amounted to €2.6 billion; it is listed on NYSE, Euronext Amsterdam, and is included in the AMX index. It has approximately 13,500 employees in over 70 countries. Mark Heine is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management and Harrie L.J. Noy is Chairman of the Supervisory Board.Geotechnical engineering
Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behavior of earth materials. Geotechnical engineering is important in civil engineering, but also has applications in military, mining, petroleum and other engineering disciplines that are concerned with construction occurring on the surface or within the ground. Geotechnical engineering uses principles of soil mechanics and rock mechanics to investigate subsurface conditions and materials; determine the relevant physical/mechanical and chemical properties of these materials; evaluate stability of natural slopes and man-made soil deposits; assess risks posed by site conditions; design earthworks and structure foundations; and monitor site conditions, earthwork and foundation construction.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 on and below an area of interest to determine their engineering properties including how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. Site investigations are needed to gain an understanding of the area in or on which the engineering will take place. Investigations can include the assessment of the risk to humans, property and the environment from natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, sinkholes, soil liquefaction, debris flows and rockfalls.
A geotechnical engineer then determines and designs the type of foundations, earthworks, and/or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be built. Foundations are designed and constructed for structures of various sizes such as high-rise buildings, bridges, medium to large commercial buildings, and smaller structures where the soil conditions do not allow code-based design.
Foundations built for above-ground structures include shallow and deep foundations. Retaining structures include earth-filled dams and retaining walls. Earthworks include embankments, tunnels, dikes and levees, channels, reservoirs, deposition of hazardous waste and sanitary landfills. Geotechnical engineers are extensively involved in earthen and concrete dam projects, evaluating the subsurface conditions at the dam site and the side slopes of the reservoir, the seepage conditions under and around the dam and the stability of the dam under a range of normal and extreme loading conditions.
Geotechnical engineering is also related to coastal and ocean engineering. Coastal engineering can involve the design and construction of wharves, marinas, and jetties. Ocean engineering can involve foundation and anchor systems for offshore structures such as oil platforms.
The fields of geotechnical engineering and engineering geology are closely related, and have large areas of overlap. However, the field of geotechnical engineering is a specialty of engineering, where the field of engineering geology is a specialty of geology. Coming from the fields of engineering and science, respectively, the two may approach the same subject, such as soil classification, with different methods.Grain size
Grain size (or particle size) is the diameter of individual grains of sediment, or the lithified particles in clastic rocks. The term may also be applied to other granular materials. This is different from the crystallite size, which refers to the size of a single crystal inside a particle or grain. A single grain can be composed of several crystals. Granular material can range from very small colloidal particles, through clay, silt, sand, gravel, and cobbles, to boulders.Index of soil-related articles
This is an index of articles relating to soil.Marine architecture
Marine architecture is the design of architectural and engineering structures which support coastal design, near-shore and off-shore or deep-water planning for many projects such as shipyards, ship transport, coastal management or other marine and/or hydroscape activities. These structures include harbors, lighthouses, marinas, oil platforms, offshore drillings, accommodation platforms and offshore wind farms, floating engineering structures and building architectures or civil seascape developments. Floating structures in deep water may use suction caisson for anchoring.Near-surface geophysics
Near-surface geophysics is the use of geophysical methods to investigate small-scale features in the shallow (tens of meters) subsurface. It is closely related to applied geophysics or exploration geophysics. Methods used include seismic refraction and reflection, gravity, magnetic, electric, and electromagnetic methods. Many of these methods were developed for oil and mineral exploration but are now used for a great variety of applications, including archaeology, environmental science, forensic science, military intelligence, geotechnical investigation, treasure hunting, and hydrogeology. In addition to the practical applications, near-surface geophysics includes the study of biogeochemical cycles.Oedometer test
An oedometer test is a kind of geotechnical investigation performed in geotechnical engineering that measures a soil's consolidation properties. Oedometer tests are performed by applying different loads to a soil sample and measuring the deformation response. The results from these tests are used to predict how a soil in the field will deform in response to a change in effective stress.Rock mass classification
Rock mass classification systems are used for various engineering design and stability analysis. These are based on empirical relations between rock mass parameters and engineering applications, such as tunnels, slopes, foundations, and excavatability. The first rock mass classification system in geotechnical engineering was proposed in 1946 for tunnels with steel set support.Soil test
Soil test may refer to one or more of a wide variety of soil analysis conducted for one of several possible reasons. Possibly the most widely conducted soil tests are those done to estimate the plant-available concentrations of plant nutrients, in order to determine fertilizer recommendations in agriculture. Other soil tests may be done for engineering (geotechnical), geochemical or ecological investigations.Standard penetration test
The standard penetration test (SPT) is an in-situ dynamic penetration test designed to provide information on the geotechnical engineering properties of soil. This test is the most frequently used subsurface exploration drilling test performed worldwide. The test procedure is described in ISO 22476-3, ASTM D1586 and Australian Standards AS 12188.8.131.52.
The test provides samples for identification purposes and provides a measure of penetration resistance which can be used for geotechnical design purposes. Many local and widely published international correlations which relate blow count, or N-value, to the engineering properties of soils are available for geotechnical engineering purposes.Static load testing
Static load testing is an in situ type of load testing used in geotechnical investigation to determine the bearing capacity of deep foundations prior to the construction of a building. It differs from the statnamic load test and dynamic load testing in that the pressure applied to the pile is slower.Triaxial shear test
A triaxial shear test is a common method to measure the mechanical properties of many deformable solids, especially soil (e.g., sand, clay) and rock, and other granular materials or powders. There are several variations on the test.In a triaxial shear test, stress is applied to a sample of the material being tested in a way which results in stresses along one axis being different from the stresses in perpendicular directions. This is typically achieved by placing the sample between two parallel platens which apply stress in one (usually vertical) direction, and applying fluid pressure to the specimen to apply stress in the perpendicular directions. (Testing apparatus which allows application of different levels of stress in each of three orthogonal directions are discussed below, under "True Triaxial test".)
The application of different compressive stresses in the test apparatus causes shear stress to develop in the sample; the loads can be increased and deflections monitored until failure of the sample. During the test, the surrounding fluid is pressurized, and the stress on the platens is increased until the material in the cylinder fails and forms sliding regions within itself, known as shear bands. The geometry of the shearing in a triaxial test typically causes the sample to become shorter while bulging out along the sides. The stress on the platen is then reduced and the water pressure pushes the sides back in, causing the sample to grow taller again. This cycle is usually repeated several times while collecting stress and strain data about the sample. During the test the pore pressures of fluids (e.g., water, oil) or gasses in the sample may be measured using Bishop's pore pressure apparatus.
From the triaxial test data, it is possible to extract fundamental material parameters about the sample, including its angle of shearing resistance, apparent cohesion, and dilatancy angle. These parameters are then used in computer models to predict how the material will behave in a larger-scale engineering application. An example would be to predict the stability of the soil on a slope, whether the slope will collapse or whether the soil will support the shear stresses of the slope and remain in place. Triaxial tests are used along with other tests to make such engineering predictions.
During the shearing, a granular material will typically have a net gain or loss of volume. If it had originally been in a dense state, then it typically gains volume, a characteristic known as Reynolds' dilatancy. If it had originally been in a very loose state, then contraction may occur before the shearing begins or in conjunction with the shearing.
Sometimes, testing of cohesive samples is done with no confining pressure, in an unconfined compression test. This requires much simpler and less expensive apparatus and sample preparation, though the applicability is limited to samples that the sides won't crumble when exposed, and the confining stress being lower than the in-situ stress gives results which may be overly conservative. The compression test performed for concrete strength testing is essentially the same test, on apparatus designed for the larger samples and higher loads typical of concrete testing.Tunnel
A tunnel is an underground passageway, dug through the surrounding soil/earth/rock and enclosed except for entrance and exit, commonly at each end. A pipeline is not a tunnel, though some recent tunnels have used immersed tube construction techniques rather than traditional tunnel boring methods.
A tunnel may be for foot or vehicular road traffic, for rail traffic, or for a canal. The central portions of a rapid transit network are usually in tunnel. Some tunnels are aqueducts to supply water for consumption or for hydroelectric stations or are sewers. Utility tunnels are used for routing steam, chilled water, electrical power or telecommunication cables, as well as connecting buildings for convenient passage of people and equipment.
Secret tunnels are built for military purposes, or by civilians for smuggling of weapons, contraband, or people. Special tunnels, such as wildlife crossings, are built to allow wildlife to cross human-made barriers safely. Tunnels can be connected together in tunnel networks.Tuve landslide
The Tuve landslide was a large landslide in Tuve, Gothenburg, Sweden on November 30, 1977. Some 67 houses were destroyed, killing 9, injuring about 60 and making around 600 people homeless. The slide began at 16.05 and lasted 5–6 minutes. The slide affected 270 000 square meters (27 hectares). About 600 people lived in the area; of these, approximately 200 were in the area at the time of the slide. About 100 needed help by rescue workers. It was the most severe landslide in the modern history of Sweden.Close to one kilometer of the nearby road was destroyed. It is estimated that three to four million cubic meters of soil were involved in the slide and further would not have fertility to grow crops. The total economic cost of the slide has been estimated to 140 million SEK (15 million EUR, 22 million USD).