What is Test Pit Excavation for Soil Evaluation and what is Its Purpose?

July 27, 2017


Before a ground-based work project begins, a test pit excavation examines the properties of that ground. It uses a soil evaluation methodology to examine the soil conditions, to see if there's an easy to excavate ground covering, which would be the best case scenario. If the soil is loaded with clay and rocks, then the test pit provides important predictive data. Essentially, this is the trenching equivalent of a feasibility study.

Demystifying Test Pit Excavations

Nationally accredited contractors don't blindly dig down into the ground. Quite the contrary, a professional trenching service marks out pre-existing utility lines before a single tool leaves its toolbox. Likewise, the geological features below the ground receive expert attention before the extractive equipment scoops its first load. Is there an abrasive layer of rocky minerals waiting to hamper the operation? What about groundwater depth? The work moves fast when the pit is dry, but a noisy diesel-powered pump is required if the extracted trench is filling up with dirty water.

Describing Test Pit Trenching

Depending on the length of the trenched run, several test pits will likely be extracted by a digger so that the soil conditions can be properly evaluated. The added test sites then statistically reduce the likelihood of the soil changing its characteristics unexpectedly when the primary work stage engages. Again, the main project could be a long trench, but it could also be another unrelated construction operation, such as the initial soil removal that takes place before a structure's foundations are laid. In this project-critical latter case, the test pit provides load-bearing data, with the soil evaluation techniques again documenting the characteristics of the subsurface strata.

The purpose of a test pit excavation is to uncover the characteristics of the underlying soil. This soil evaluation technique assesses ground water content, sedimentary ground types, and then adds a second overlay, one that's determined by the loading properties of those multiple soil layers. Loose dirt or clay, these soil type factors influence what's going on above the surface. Compressed ground types, for instance, won't shift when a structure is built on a land parcel. Unfortunately, if that land is shifting or situated low on the local water table, the foundations of a building won't be stable. Structural cracks can occur when the ground is an unknown quantity, probably because of subsidence problems. Assessed and investigated, thanks to the test pit, the soil evaluation procedure records the likely behaviour of that ground when it's subjected to loading stress.

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