Geotechnical Engineering is a branch or part of civil engineering that is focused on the engineering properties and the condition of earth materials (rock and soil). It incorporates different elements of geology, physics and engineering in order to assess whether the site is suitable for development. It also evaluates previously developed sites to help reduce potential hazards that can seriously affect the longevity of the existing structure/s and also to prevent any harm to the people living near or within the area.
Geotechnical engineering experts make use of different principles of rock and soil mechanics for the following reasons:
• To examine subsurface materials and conditions
• Determine the relevant mechanical/physical as well as chemical attributes of these materials
• Evaluate how stable the natural and man-made slopes are
• Assess risks that the site conditions present
• Design earthworks and site foundations
• Consistently monitor site conditions, earthwork and foundation construction
Geotechnical engineering solutions are mostly applied to civil design projects. However, it is not limited to those alone. Geotechnical Engineering is also used by different industries such as the military, resource development industries, and other industries that involve construction on or into the ground.
Standard geotechnical engineering projects normally start with reviewing the proposed design elements so as to have a good idea as to what the requirements for site development are. Afterwards, a site investigation follows. The site investigation involves subsurface exploration aimed towards measuring the soil and rock properties on and below the site.
IS A GEOTECHNICAL EVALUATION NECESSARY?
Geotechnical evaluations should always be part of any site assessment. It is a low-cost method that helps reduce potential liabilities normally associated with unidentified site conditions. A good number of government regulatory agencies make it a point to require geotechnical evaluations for all types of construction projects. Performing thorough geotechnical evaluations of project sites can save companies considerable time and money since it helps provide the geotechnical engineers and design team valuable information and design limits during the design and planning stages of the project. Companies can avoid unnecessary expenses due to unexpected changes in the subsurface conditions with a thorough and quality geotechnical evaluation.
How long do reports for geotechnical evaluations take? The answer varies greatly depending on each project. Factors such as the size and scope can affect how long the geotechnical report takes. For example, a report for a single family house can be completed in a matter of weeks while a major commercial construction project will take months to conclude. Geotechnical Engineering reports take a long time to finish because of field explorations and series of laboratory testing.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A GEOTECHNICAL REPORT?
Geotechnical reports normally consist of detailed graphical logs of all field explorations that had been conducted as well as different lab tests done. The information from the report is then used to create design suggestions and limitations for different types of foundation systems. The geotechnical report contains information that is tailored to meet the needs of each project.