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What Exactly is a Geotechnical Investigation?

July 10, 2017


geotech1.jpgIf you’re considering purchasing or developing a property, someone might recommend having a geotechnical evaluation done. It sounds like a good idea – but what exactly is a geotechnical evaluation, and why should you have one done?

Geotechnical evaluations study the physical properties of soil and rock to identify potential construction problems and evaluate distress to earthworks and structures caused by weakness or failure of subsurface materials; such data is necessary to have before creating foundation designs and other structural plans.

Geotechnical evaluations are also conducted following catastrophic failures such as sinkholes, and sometimes banks or other financial institutions require them before loan disbursement.

What happens during a geotechnical evaluation?

Geotechnical evaluations usually consist of multiple components. First, a geotechnical engineer or engineering geologist performs a surface evaluation, which may include a site walk, reviewing maps and aerial photographs, or geophysical surveys. The second phase involves soil sampling, typically by using a drill rig to conduct test borings that provide valuable data related to soil properties and stratigraphy. 

During test borings, samples are often collected for further laboratory testing; the geotechnical engineer uses the results of such tests to evaluate for site suitability and final design recommendations.

Why are geotechnical evaluations so important?

The primary reason for geotechnical evaluations is to find possible anomalous subsurface conditions before beginning a project – versus being surprised mid-project. The costs of not performing an evaluation can be astronomical. 

ATC provides a comprehensive mix of Geotechnical Engineering services throughout all phases of feasibility/planning, design development, construction and post-construction. With ATC, you will have access to a diverse group of geotechnical engineers, LEED® accredited professionals, materials engineers, roofing professionals and certified engineering technicians.

Contact us if we can be of assistance, or connect with one of our geotechnical professionals – Ed Zisman, PE, PG or Alexis Paniagua, PE.

About this blog

Welcome to our postings on the environment and regulatory impact.  We strive to keep you informed with the latest changes in regulations and with lessons learned from our time in the field


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