Importance of Geotechnical Engineer in construction projects? What are various challenges faced by Geotechnical Engineers?

Geotechnical engineers are vital members of Challenging Squad, Works related to Waterfront structures, Designs of Irrigation Works with various technologies and other Infrastructure projects(Roads, Railways, Bridges, Airports & Metro Rail..etc). At its core, the geotechnics discipline deals with soil and rock behavior from an engineering perspective

1. Geotechnical Exploration – Engineer 

  • Conducting of Borehole tests SPT, DCPT and SCPT.
  • Supervision of Extraction the Un Disturbed and Disturbed Soil samples from the Boreholes by Shelby Tubes and SPT Spoon samplers respectively as per the Code guide lines as per specified intervals and every change of strata.
  • Carrying out/Supervision the Permeability & Pressure meter (Single and Double Packer Tests).
  • Supervision of Field CBR, Geo Physical tests like SRT & ERT (Seismic Refraction Tests and Electrical Resistivity Test).
  • Supervision of Rotary drilling/Wash Boring and Core Drilling and Sampling, labelling & Packing of all type of SPT (DS), UDS and Rock core Samples.
  • Assessing and Examining Geological Information from field bore log Data and Preparation of Soil and Rock Profile.

2. Geotechnical Lab – Engineer

  • Analysis of Index/Physical properties like GSA, Moisture content, MDD/OMC, FSI, LL, PL & SL, Sp. Gr.
  • Engineering properties/ Shear Parameters from Direct shear & Tri axial shear (UU, CU and CD), Consolidation Settlement. 
  • Supervision and Analyzing of UCS & point load index test results.

3. Geotechnical Investigation Report – Engineer 

  • Preparation of Geotechnical Investigation Reports as per field & laboratory testing data.
  • Sub-structure Design recommendation based on the type of structure by correlating the Field and Lab Testing Results. 
  • Geo technical Ground Improvement specification/recommendation.

4. Substructure Execution – Engineer 

  • Analyzing of Load Tests and the Interpretation of Data with IS Standard Guidelines.
  • Supervision of Plate Load and Pile Load Tests for finding the Ultimate bearing Capacities of Open/Deep Foundations Resp.
  • Execution of Substructure like Isolated, Well and Pile Foundations.
  • Execution of Earth Related works like Retaining Structures, Diaphragm & Cut off Walls and Sheet Piles.
  • Supervision of all the Ground Improvement Techniques like Grouting, Soil Stabilization, Soil Reinforcement etc.
  • Responsible for Design and Excavations of Natural Slopes and their stabilization.
  • Responsible for Construction of Tunnels, Rail Roads, Underground structures and Subways.

5. Substructure Design – Engineer 

  • Reviewing and Preparation of Factual report and Design recommendation based on Geotechnical Investigation Data.
  • Design of Various Foundations (Shallow and Deep) based on Factual report.
  • Analyzing of the Load Tests Data.
  • Analysis and design of substructures/ retaining structures through FEM based Software’s like PLAXIS 2D & 3D, FLAC, WALLAP, L-Pile, REPUTE, Geo SLOPE, Geo 5, Geo STUDIO.

Projects where Geotechnical Engineer has to Play Major Role: – 

Almost all the Construction Projects – If GTI Report is Prepared and Worked out with good expertise Geotechnical Engineers, the issues will be resolved before starting of the Execution of Structure itself maybe it is fully challenging structure also. 

Various Challenges: –

  • Landslides, Dealing with Natural Slopes and Slope Stabilities
  • Underground Structures – Subways, Tunnels
  • Dams – Water Front Structures
  • Surface Characterization – Faults, Caverns, Sinkholes, Fractured Rock.
  • Landfills – Waste Dumps.
  • Offshore Structures – Oil & Gas Extraction, Wind Power
  • Deep Excavations –  Excavations, Subways, Tunnels, 
  • Ground Improvement & Soil Stabilization
  • Scour & Erosion – Rain Fall, Snow Fall, Tornados, Hurricanes, floods.
  • Contamination and Site Remediation – Removing of Contaminated Soil.

Buildings, Road and Rail Projects, Retaining Structures, Irrigation Works, Pipeline, Heavy Water Plant, Underground Metro, Tunnel Boring and Construction of Metro or Rail, High-Speed Rail Projects, Major and Minor Bridges, Marine Works like Oil Exploration, Marine Structures, Harbors, and Port, Water Front Structures, Air Fields and Sportsfield.

Where ever Work is involved with Earth/Substructure A Geotechnical Engineer will have Major Role.

The Main Challenge which will face by a Geotechnical Engineer is “He has to deal with the Natural Material not a Man-Made Material”.

Author Credit: Sandeep Kumar Sr.Design Engineer Geotechnical at L&T Geostructure LLP

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