There are many challenging subsurface geotechnical conditions that require civil engineers and architects to rethink their plans for construction. But what does subsurface mean, and what are some common complications that get in the way of building? Let’s dive deeper into subsurface conditions and why you need to examine them closely for your next project.
What Does Subsurface Even Mean?
The subsurface definition points to the soil and organic material below the Earth’s surface. This can include the dirt, rocks, air, water, and anything else found in a particular area. Subsurface studies are an important part of any geotechnical report because they investigate the ground underneath where man-made structures would go, evaluating whether or not the construction can be built safely in that environment.
The study of subsurface conditions has benefitted civil engineering considerably, helping to avoid construction issues before they begin. For example, had subsurface studies existed during the building of the Tower of Pisa in Italy, it wouldn’t be leaning as it is today! Further—it continued to slowly lean until geotechnical engineers safely stabilized the ground surrounding the iconic structure.
Subsurface studies also inform projects involving:
- Finding active faults
- Oil and gas exploration
- Carbon sequestration
- Metal mining
- Imaging magma chambers
Examples of Challenging Subsurface Geotechnical Conditions
Subsurface studies show the feasibility of an intended project, looking for the potential risk factors of a given area. After conducting a geotechnical investigation, a geotech may find any of the following challenging subsurface geotechnical conditions:
- Moisture levels: Having either too much moisture or not enough can greatly affect the soil’s stability. For example, both sandy and swampy environments can prove difficult for construction.
- Rock depth: Significant rock present at a shallow depth calls for extra heavy-duty machinery to get the job done.
- Slope and foundation: Buildings need a solid base or everything goes downhill from there. Analyzing the site’s slope is a vital step for feasibility.
What Happens When Challenging Subsurface Geotechnical Conditions are Found?
Should any challenging subsurface geotechnical conditions be uncovered at your desired construction site, there are two ways the project can go:
- Architects and civil engineers will work together to find solutions for the issue at hand. In most cases, this will involve reworking building plans to better coexist with the soil conditions.
- If the subsurface conditions are completely unsuitable and would create too big a risk or expense to build, a different site will need to be found.
Explore Your Subsurface Geotechnical Conditions with Central Geotech
Challenging subsurface geotechnical conditions can throw a wrench into the flow of your building plans; prepare yourself for what’s ahead when you evaluate your site with Central Geotechnical Services. We will evaluate the feasibility of your project and get you going right. Contact us to get started.