The Importance Of A Proper Geotechnical Investigation Of A Building Project Site

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Prior to the construction of any large scale project, the first thing that must be established to a high degree of confidence is how solid the ground for the proposed structure actually is. Determining that the ground is capable of supporting the building mass is absolutely vital prior to laying down the first foundation member. Failure to do so can have catastrophic and even lethal consequences. This is the purpose of geotechnical engineering: to conduct a comprehensive subsurface study of the building site. The results derived from taking and studying soil samples from various depths determines the necessary construction that will have to be performed to create a stable platform for the overall building.

To understand the importance of such investigation, recall the example of what happened when such study was not performed thoroughly enough: New Orleans. The catastrophic flooding which occurred in that city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina back in Septermber of 2005. The disaster was not the result of the storm itself or even tidal surges from Lake Pontchartrain but from the collapse of the floodwalls built to protect the city. Back when those floodwalls were being constructed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to carry out a thorough study of the soil the floodwall supports were to be built on. Because insufficient examination of the clay bottoms of drainage canals, the hydrological conditions affecting the soil, and the depths before solid layers could be found, supports were sunk into ground subject to continual erosion. By the time of any surge generated from the storm effects hit, the eroded canal bottoms allowed floodwall sections to simply tumble forward, and water from the storm-swelled canals drained into the city.

This is why geotechnical engineers conduct a thorough survey of the area to determine its susceptibility to soil erosion, landslides, seismic activity, and its fill characteristics. Quality of soil and rock as well as its layering is determined by taking drilling samples at various depths. These are then tested and a complete evaluation made, from which recommendations on foundation structuring can then be formulated. The engineers at acs construction can provide clients with full information on this and other services available to prepare a building site. Contact them today.