The importance of ground improvement for geotechnical engineering

August, 31 2020

Geotechnical engineering uses the science of soil and rock mechanics to assemble and understand the ground’s physical properties for use in building and construction. Geotechnical engineering is essential to analyze the ground suitability of a proposed build site. If the ground’s integrity is found to include significant risk (i.e., settlement), ground improvement is often recommended. 

What is ground improvement?

Before any construction project should commence, the soil site must be evaluated to withstand and adequately support the building construction. In some cases, the proposed build site may be made of saturated compressible materials, which is not adequate to build upon; in this case, ground improvement techniques can be deployed.

Why is it essential?

Building on soft, uneven ground that has not been tested is a recipe for disaster.   It can lead to structural problems with the construction itself and is likely to require expensive repairs later on, or possibly a complete demolition. A solid plan developed by a qualified geotechnical engineer significantly reduces this risk of future damage and defects.

Other benefits of ground improvement

In addition to this, ground improvement is also essential to geotechnical engineering as the process increases the soil’s density, which prevents liquefaction. Liquefaction is a term that describes when loosely packed, water-logged sediments near the ground’s surface weaken in response to strong vibrations, such as earthquakes. At the same time, ground improvement could enhance soil permeability, which increases drainage capability.

What type of ground improvement techniques are there?

The type of recommended technique will depend on the project itself, the area in question and the type of soil, and natural materials that compose the land in question.  For example, clay, rocks, and sandy soil will behave differently when subjected to different techniques. Below we outline some popular ground improvement methods.

Dynamic compaction

This technique involves compressing the soil by releasing large steel rigs from a specific height, usually between forty and eighty feet. This method efficiently compresses loose soils in the areas of concern. After compacting is complete, the ground area is then dug out to process and replace engineered fill. This process further assures that the ground is sufficiently compacted and hard enough to build on successfully.

Jet grouting

This construction method of soil improvement utilizes a jet system that releases soil-cement into the earth using a high-pressure system. The result of this process is that it simultaneously mixes cement grout with the soil and decreases the soil permeability and improves the strength of the soil.  The new soil cement dries, solidifies, and settles into hardened, more even ground with more suitable support.  It also allows the opportunity to raise foundations and slab elements if required.

At G3Soilworks, we are experts in geotechnical engineering and can conduct the necessary surveys and works required for your construction project to be successful. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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