Geotechnical engineering is a practical science that explores the engineering behaviour of the earth materials to address design and engineering issues, cover risks, and restrict project costs.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa isn’t an exception. Millennium Tower, Tiger Hill Pagoda, Church Of St. Mary And All Saints, Big Ben, and OEDE KERK – leaning buildings are a common sight globally. These iconic structures don’t stand perpendicular to the ground, the reasons may vary though. Typically, erroneous design, construction, and rickety ground give them the characteristic tilt. Tetra Tech Coffey uses a variety of engineering geophysical methods to better understand the topography and spot risks. Go through anonymous link to know more about engineering techniques.
That’s where the geotechnical engineering Edmonton services step in, ensuring your building doesn’t end up being a part of the long list of leaning buildings. Has that piqued your curiosity? Let’s elucidate why geotechnical evaluation is integral to any civil and structural engineering project. But before we dive deeper, let’s spell out geotechnical engineering for you.
So, what is it, anyway?
Geotechnical engineering deals with the engineering behaviour of earth materials like rocks, soils, and groundwater, along with artificial materials, such as manufactured stones, compacted stone, dirt fill, and concrete. The fundamentals of rock mechanics and soil mechanics are leveraged to address design and engineering issues for anything constructed on or within the ground and onshore, as well as offshore. It’s a relatively younger branch of civil engineering that utilizes hydrology, geology, geophysics, and other disciplines to produce results.
Why does it matter?
The ground conditions and composition vary vastly even at a stone’s throw distance. How well the ground copes with the additional pressures or changes caused by a proposed construction depends on various environmental stressors. Engineering failures have much to do with the ground. But when the ground conditions are considered appropriately through a geotechnical evaluation, costly issues can be warded off. Simply put, the evaluation leads to structures that don’t settle, tilt, cave in, crack or collapse due to foundation, design and construction failures.
A typical geotechnical investigation involves assessing the subsurface, ground conditions, and earth materials, in addition to environmental issues, including groundwater, flood plains and the likes. Also, the ground stability is ascertained, which involves studying soil deposits, slopes, and vulnerabilities, including mudslide, earthquakes and more. All this is done to determine whether the ground can sustain the proposed project. Plus, the inferences of the investigation help zero in on the right foundation and earthworks needed to fructify the project.
The geotechnical investigations are the bedrock of ‘ground improvement’, helping prepare the site for safe and economical construction in line with building regulations. The process involves the treatment of soil with different techniques to enhance strength, hardness, and permeability. The geotechnical engineers factor in multiple soil properties to evaluate site conditions, and decide on foundations and retaining structures. This includes unit weight, porosity, void ratio, permeability, cut off-strength, compressibility and Atterberg limits among others.
The geotechnical engineering Edmonton investigation would conclude in a geotechnical report, elaborating ground conditions, and design and construction suggestions. The significance of an investigation report can’t be overstated, provided it’s sharp, concise and correct. Call it the cornerstone of first-hand information on project design, construction, outlay, safety, and a tool to resolve contractual disputes. A faulty, inadequate report is often the cause of uneconomical, over-designed foundations, unexpected incurred costs, project delays, disputes, and penalties.
What are geotechnical deliberations for structural design?
Soft soil is prone to settling and so is historically filled ground. When it settles, problems with development crop up. These issues can cause ground movement and eventually impact the structure to be built there. They stay obscured and may compound over time until an elaborate investigation uncovers them. With a complete picture of the ground conditions, extra loads and potential impacts, it’s easy to create a foundation design addressing the development issues.
Climate, especially high rainfall, affects the land drastically. The drainage conditions need to be factored in at the get-go to eliminate future incidents. Take, for instance, slopes that can endure inclement weather in short term. However, the ground conditions are susceptible to change when exposed to harsh weather for long. Geotechnical studies take into account the impact of weather conditions on the ground and help plan accordingly for the long term.
How the subsurface would cope with the additional pressure exerted by the new development depends on its history. For instance, areas that once hosted mining activities might collapse due to cavities. Plus, the presence of mine waste makes these areas potentially unstable. Also, the risk of water contamination, underground fire, and harmful gases runs high in erstwhile mining areas. The geotechnical probes dive deep into the history of a given site, assessing the possibility of mine works and any such activity. It’s all about exploring history to pre-empt the future.
No ground can stay immune to voids. Certain rock deposits dissolve readily, subject to the soil composition and other factors. When they dissolve, voids are formed. These voids hinder the new development, leading to project delays and cost overruns. Evaluating the possibility of ground void formation is a core competency of geotechnical engineering Edmonton service.