Indicators of Geotechnical Hazards

Before construction begins, engineers are responsible for identifying indicators of geotechnical hazards. The geotechnical hazards definition comes down to the risks presented in a job site, specifically ground movements such as settlements, fractures, or landslides that can negatively affect a project. With a proper site investigation, many of these issues can be avoided; explore these geotechnical hazard examples and learn how to head them off with Central Geotech.

Geotechnical Hazards Definition

Geotechnical hazards are earth movements that can throw off building plans and foundation efforts. Shifts in soil and groundwater can have a major effect on how a building is constructed, as additional support and mitigation may be needed to ensure long-term stability.

Geotechnical hazard examples include:

  • Settlement: Vertical ground movements caused by either earth movements or increased verticals pressures that are applied (such as construction)
  • Subsidence: Gradual settling or sudden sinking caused by underground movement
  • Consolidation:  Gradual “settlement” caused by pressures applied by building loads, slowly pushing the water out of the underlying soil
  • Heave: Upward ground movement caused by soil swelling and expansion, sometimes caused after removal of overburden soils
  • Slumping: Land mass moving down a short distance, similar to a shallow landslide
  • Fracturing: Cracks in or below the Earth’s surface
  • Toppling: The forward rotation or tilting of rocks
  • Landslides: Land mass flowing downward from a slope

These or other geotechnical hazards can cause major disruption to a project or significant damage post construction, as shifts in the ground could force the building to move in response.

How to Account for Geotechnical Hazards

Identifying indicators of geotechnical hazards isn’t only about assessing the current situation; geotechnical engineers must take future movements into consideration as well, determining how changes in temperature, weather, and infrastructure will affect the area in question. Because geotechnical hazards can be present in any construction site, it’s important to conduct thorough site evaluations before work begins, as accounting for these risks will save significant time and money down the road—plus, it’s normally required prior to permitting as standard of practice.

In order to find indicators of geotechnical hazards, you must hire a geotechnical engineer who will provide:

  • Soil tests: Assessing the overall “strength” and makeup of your site’s soil
  • Geotechnical reporting: A presentation of your site’s defining geotechnical characteristics
  • Recommendations and guidance: Based on the findings, a Geotech will give sound advice on how to lower risk and proceed with safety and success in mind, while optimizing costs associated with innovative building recommendations.

Evaluate Your Site’s Geotechnical Conditions with Central Geotech

Every site has geotechnical conditions that must be evaluated before construction can begin.  Central Geotech can help you uncover indicators of geotechnical hazards to keep your project running on time and on budget. Contact us to get started.