How to Deal with Geotechnical and Excavation Failures

June, 30 2021
How to Deal with Geotechnical and Excavation Failures

The world of geotechnical engineering is a rather complex one and has many components that can quickly go wrong. We recently discussed the importance of geotechnical monitoring and the methods used to predict potential disasters, and how to take necessary actions.

In this article, we will look at some of the more common geotechnical failures along with examples and how geotechnical consultants in construction projects in California can help you not only save money but lives as well.

Causes of Geotechnical Failures

All geotechnical experts and construction workers need to be well aware of some of the causes that may lead to failures and what constitutes a failure. In the industry, anything where interaction between structures or settlements regarding their adequacy, liquefaction, or excavation leads to tunnel collapse, instability of the soil, or a combination of other technical aspects is classified as a failure.

There are numerous types of failure in soil, with the prime ones being;

  1. Sliding
  2. Falling
  3. Exfoliating
  4. Toppling

Slope stability is one of the most primary considerations when analyzing soil types and other geotechnical failures. These failures include climatic events, coarse-grained soil/rock becoming too dry or too wet in a climate where this could never be expected, sinkholes emerging, or a huge force acting on any end of the slope.

A prime geotechnical failure example of this is shoreland sliding or avalanches. Although every construction worker worth their salt will consider this, excessive rainfall can lead to this behavior.

Other events that may lead to geotechnical failures include, but aren’t limited to;

  • Close-by excavation for a high-rise building
  • Excavation close to a high-rise

Excavation has the potential to displace the stress and strain exerted on a building’s foundation. Therefore, it may lead to a collapse despite the foundation being anchored and braced.

  • Under seepage
  • Piping collapse
  • Landslides
  • Seepage

Seepage is a widely recognized issue in the geotechnical community and is perhaps the first thing engineers remediate. It represents the flow of water through the space between sand/soil particles, leading to the loss of friction between them.

Furthermore, water has the potential to result in internal erosion in piping or compressing soil particles close to each other as it ‘lubricates’ the sharp edges of soil particles.

There is a lot more that can go wrong when it comes to geotechnical failures, each requiring different treatment and analyzing procedures. To get expert help to prevent all that can go wrong on your next construction project or those undertaken by others, we recommend you call us and get an analysis done.

Whether you need someone to check for drainage issues, water resources, chemistry and corrosion tests, environmental factors, seismology, or soil testing, we have got you covered. So, give G3Soilworks a call today and reinforce your project!


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G3SoilWorks – a full service geotechnical / engineering geologic consulting firm, is pleased to reach our third year. It has come with many interesting clients, assignments and obstacles.

350 Fischer Avenue Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Tel. 714-707-3155