Why are Geotechnical Soil Reports Essential Prior to Starting Any Excavation Project?

April 4, 2019

Geotechnical soil reports are taken as ground samples. At various intervals along a route, a standard penetration method collects the samples, perhaps by driving a hollow core a meter or more into the ground. The results of the tests are then collated and formed into a detailed report. A picture is being built, one that tells the project managers everything about what's going on below the ground covering.

Uncovering Trenching Issues

For the obvious problems, the penetration data provides essential project insight. It creates a picture of the soil type. There's information about the corrosive elements in the dirt. For the trench foreman, there are other matters to study. Flipping a page on the report, the soil composition is checked out. Is this ground loamy or dry and brittle? Will it hold together and clump, or will it fall apart into a pile of loose sand? The shoring needs of the ground channel are determined at this point. Thanks to that Geotechnical Soil Report, the side-walls of the trench are strong, the personnel working down there are safe, and the cables or pipes are going in without any incident.

The Earth Pit Section

Up to this point, we've been worried about the structural problems. Was the soil too loose and silty, or was it nice and loamy? Damp and clumpy is best, for a trench holds together better if it's got a little binding water or roots in its material base. Elsewhere, soil resistivity issues are causing concern. The planet Earth is a massive place, so it can easily sink a short-circuited current. Furthermore, the ground also acts as a potential circuit pathway, one that links the transformer ground terminal to a structure's own ground spike. However, should the soil around the pit include some kind of high-resistance material, that fault pathway becomes less-than-perfect. Remember, we're looking for a zero-ohm pathway here. If that value climbs much higher, a high-current fault could endanger lives or property. Importantly, a soil resistivity report must yield low results. If that's not the case, prompt action must be taken.

There's a great deal of information to pore over in a Geotechnical Soil Report. Water table issues are a problem. If there's water nearby, the contractors will need to hire a pump. Soil corrosiveness can impact pipe casings and cable sheathings, so acid and alkali balance are important, too. Structurally, the soil must provide support. If it doesn't, reinforced side-wall shoring is a given. Finally, for electrical projects, soil resistivity reports are absolutely mandatory. The zero-ohm ideal is desirable, of course. Otherwise, that resistivity reading must fall within a set limit, as marked out in the regulatory standards.

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