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Ground Improvement for Geotechnical Engineers

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Geotechnical Engineer plays a crucial role in all new construction projects.  They are the project team’s soils expert, responsible for determining the subsurface conditions at the project site and characterizing the engineering properties of the bearing soils.  The project team relies on the Geotechnical Engineer to develop cost-effective geotechnical recommendations to ensure the proposed structure (i.e., building, MSE wall, grain bin, etc.) performs as intended. 

Many sites have subsurface soil profiles that can support the proposed structure on shallow foundations with little risk of unfavorable settlement.  However, some sites are underlain by loose sands, soft clays, or organic soils that prohibit the use of shallow spread footings, due to the risk of excessive long-term settlements.  In these instances, the Geotechnical Engineer is tasked with developing cost-effective alternative foundation solutions for support of the proposed structure. Alternate foundation solutions have historically consisted of removal and replacement of unsuitable soil or deep foundations.  However, in the past 30 years, ground improvement has become a preferred third option for many Geotechnical Engineers, as ground improvement meets the performance requirements of the structure while providing cost and time savings.

Geopier®  Ground Improvement - Offering Cost-Effective, Fast Installation Solutions 

Geotechnical Engineers are constantly tasked with evaluating new foundation alternatives to provide their clients with cost-effective foundation solutions.  In this endeavor, the Geotechnical Engineer must   properly evaluate the risks associated with their recommended solutions.  We at Geopier® understand this intimately because our team is comprised entirely of Geotechnical Engineers, focused on limiting risk while delivering solutions that not only meet the performance criteria for the project, but also the budget and schedule requirements.

As of today, over 10,000 structures worldwide are supported by Geopier ground improvement systems, including Rammed Aggregate Pier® (RAP) technologies, rigid inclusions, and our rail and slope reinforcement solutions.  Geopier systems are used to reinforce poor bearing soils (including soft to stiff clays and silts, loose to medium dense sands, organic silts and peat, and variable uncontrolled fill soils) and meet the performance criteria for the project.  Geopier’s solutions help Geotechnical Engineers achieve an efficient ground improvement design while providing significant cost savings to their clients utilizing a wide range of applications.

Geopier®  Versus Removal and Replacement 

Removal and replacement consists of the complete removal of marginal soils and replacement with engineered fill.  Shallow removal and replacement operations in open sites can be performed at minimal expense.  However, some removal and replacement programs require deep excavations, sheeting/shoring, dewatering efforts, underpinning of adjacent foundations, and/or significant laybacks to maintain a safe excavation.  These extra measures can be expensive, time consuming, and pose great risk to the construction process.   Geopier systems eliminate the need for removal and replacement and are generally more cost-effective and schedule-friendly than a removal and replacement program.  In general, Geopier systems are more cost-effective/faster when the removal and replacement depths are greater than approximately 5 feet.  As an additional consideration, the excavated soils could be contaminated, resulting in significant disposal costs.  Geopier systems can significantly reduce or even eliminate spoils, reducing costs associated with disposal of marginal and / or contaminated soils. 

 

Geopier®  Verus Deep Foundation 

Deep foundations consist of steel or concreted elements that typically extend to significant depths to obtain sufficient geotechnical capacity.  Furthermore, deep foundations require pile caps and reinforced structural slabs to transfer column and slab loads into the foundation elements.  These aspects make deep foundation alternatives expensive and time/labor intensive, which can impact schedule.  Geopier elements typically achieve capacities similar to deep foundations, but with shorter installation depths and significantly faster installation rates (i.e., reduced schedule).    In addition, Geopier systems allow foundations and slabs to be designed as conventional spread footings and slabs-on-grade, allowing for less steel than the pile caps and structural slabs required for deep foundation systems. 

 

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  Using Geopier Ground Improvement technologies and systems allow for:

  • Increased allowable bearing pressures versus conventional spread footings on unimproved soils (typically 5 ksf to 8 ksf, but as high as 10 ksf).
  • Optimization of footings sizes and reductions in steel and concrete costs.
  • Significant reductions in foundation installation time to meet schedule demands.
  • Significant reductions in total and differential settlements versus conventional spread footings on unimproved soils to meet project requirements.
  • Significant reductions in settlements associated with liquefaction.
  • Increased shear strength to alleviate global stability concerns.

 

 

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