Lateral Earth Support Structures – Excavation Shoring

Lateral earth support structures provide side support to a shoring wall by holding the planned lateral loads during an excavation. These support structures stabilize soil and rock from erosion and downslope movement while providing support for both vertical and near-vertical grade changes.

Importance of Lateral Earth Support Structures in Excavation Shoring

In excavation shoring, the ground is excavated to the right depth with retaining walls supporting the soil at the sides. Upon completion of the excavation to the targeted depth, the base slab of the structure is placed at the bottom-most level, then followed by the side walls. The casting of concrete progresses upwards until the roof of the tunnel structure is completed and ground is then back-filled and reinstated.

The secant pile technology considered as a form of top-down construction system with the added benefit of the shoring system walls forming part of the final structure was looked at as one option. Another important aspect of secant piles is the minimum vibration and noise that the system provides. Secant piles are simply drilled shafts that interlock to make a continuous wall. The walls are formed by constructing intersecting reinforced concrete piles, with every second or third pile typically reinforced with a broad flanged steel section or a reinforcing steel cage. With proper waterproofing and finishing, this wall can then be made to form part of the final structure for the tunnel or trench.

For proper and economical design of lateral earth support structures and generally of any retaining wall, it is crucial that complete information on all prevailing site conditions that may affect the pile wall during its short term and long term conditions be obtained. In this case, the design of the shoring system must be able to withstand intensive earth pressure, hydrostatic pressures, equipment loads, applicable traffic, construction loads as well as the other surcharge loads. This way, they will allow safe construction without movement or settlement of the ground, to prevent damage or to shift the adjacent structures, streets and utilities and the design be compatible with the geologic conditions and predictable field response.

The stability of the excavation must also be maintained against sliding and bottom heave. As these walls are required to form part of the final wall system for the structure, the wall system has to be analyzed for lateral pressure loading distribution on the final structure. The pile and shoring system has also to perform as a structural element for the finished structure. The analysis of a combined system has to be carried out in order to develop a computer model that would provide the anticipated behavior of the system when subjected to the various loading and stresses during its construction as well as lifetime period.

The top down construction allows for the piles to be right on the borders or walls of adjacent properties and can usually be driven with minimal disturbances to the adjacent structures. The secant piles can be installed in difficult ground conditions with more flexibility in the construction alignment.


The lateral earth support structures have to be designed to safely support the ground, water pressure, existing loads, permanent loads, traffic or construction loads, while protecting utilities without permitting undesirable wall deflections and ground settlements behind the wall. The support structures can be installed in difficult ground conditions with more flexibility in the construction alignment.


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Types of Foundations

A foundation is the structural part of the building on which the building stands. Its work is to transmit and distribute its load and the imposed loads to the soil so that the load does not exceed the load-bearing capacity of the ‘foundation bed’. The foundation bed is the solid ground on which the foundation rests.

There are various types of foundations whose use depends on the loads from the structure as well as the soil condition. It is always advisable to ascertain the suitability of every type of foundation before commencing any construction project.

Below are the various types of foundations:

Foundations are generally either shallow or deep. Shallow foundations are built by the excavation of the earth to the bottom of the footing followed by a construction of the footing. Shallow foundations are in turn divided into strip footings, individual footing, and raft foundations.

Strip footings are often found in load-bearing masonry construction, and they act as long strip that bears the weight of a complete wall. Strip footings are ideal where building loads are borne by entire walls instead of isolated columns.

Individual footings are the commonest, and they are often used if the load of the building is borne by columns. Typically, every column will have an own footing. The footing is usually only a rectangular or square pad of concrete on which the column is erected.

Raft or Mat Foundations are recommended if basements are going to be constructed as well. In this case, the whole basement floor will act as the foundation, and the weight of the building will be spread evenly throughout the entire footprint of the building. This type of foundation is known as a raft because it makes the building seem like a vessel which ‘floats’ on a sea of soil.

Raft or Mat Foundations are highly recommended in cases where the soil is weak, thus, behooving the structural engineer to ensure that the load of the building has to be spread over a large area. Raft or Mat Foundations can also be ideal if the columns are closely spaced such that if individual footings were employed, then the footings will touch each other.

Deep Foundations

Deep foundations, unlike shallow ones, found very deeply under the finished ground surface such that it is difficult for their base bearing capacity to be impacted by surface conditions. They mostly run three meters deep from the finished ground level. Deep foundations are ideal if there are unsuitable soils near the surface, thus, the need to transfer the load of the building to a deeper, more stable strata at a certain depth.

Deep foundations are usually divided into two groups: Pile Foundations and Drilled Shafts. Structural engineers often use pile foundations to transfer heavy loads of structures to a more stable, harder soil strata below ground level through columns. The type of foundation also cushions against uplift of building structure in case of lateral loads such as wind forces and earthquake.

Drilled shafts act similar to pile foundations but they are high-capacity foundations cast in place. The drilled shaft foundation resists loads through toe resistance or shaft resistance, and sometimes a combination of the two.

The drilled shafts are often constructed using an auger.


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Different Types Of Soil, and Soil Mechanics

Have you ever thought about the mechanism of the soil under your feet? The answer will be certainly no. You might notice the difference in different environments, but you will be surprised if you know about the complex mechanism of the soil. The soil has different composition, structures, and particles and no one can understand these differences without proper knowledge. You might notice some differences in the form, but it is not possible to understand the complex nature such as the particles and fluids. The proper knowledge of the soil is important for those who are involved in the plantation as it can help them to plant at the right time with the right soil structure.

Do you want to know what the soil mechanism exactly is? What are the different types of the soils? For your information, soil can be defined as the inorganic and organic materials that play the base of the plant growth. It takes a time to develop and to meet the requirements of the plants. It is composed of the different materials such as the organic materials, inorganic materials, minerals, and the weathered rocks. And the condition improves and deteriorates while coming into contact with the other materials and natural resources.


Different types of soil; soil mechanics

Soil mechanism is known as the branch of the engineering mechanics and soil physics that explains the behavior of soil. This mechanism is different from the solid mechanics and fluid mechanics as the soil contains a heterogeneous mixture of the particles and fluids. The particles might be silt, clay, sand and the gravel. Moreover, it might also contain organic solids and any other materials along with the rocking mechanism. The soil mechanism offers the theoretical base to analyze the geotechnical engineering. It is also used to explain the differences between the manmade structures and the deformations with natural resources. It is important to differentiate between the different types of the mechanism to get maximum benefits that might be for the agricultural and any other purpose.

There are different types of the soil such as the clay, silt, and sand. Usually, all the types of the soils are made of different types of the soils. How they mix and what is their mechanic that depends on the texture of the soil.


The sand soil is made of small particles of the weathered rock. The soil is fairly loose and coarse. But it is not considered as a good option for the plants as it cannot hold water and offer nutrients as well.

The slit is a type of the fine sand that can hold water, unlike the sand. If you hold this sand in your hand it will give a feeling like flour. It is better than sand for the plantation, but not the ideal option.

Another type is clay. It is smaller than the sand and silt. This soil is considered good for the plants to flourish. It can be molded into different shapes as well.

All these soils have different mechanics and the purpose of the use is also different. You just need to know the right mechanism to make the best use of it.


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A Brief History of Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineering is a significant discipline in the modern world. This branch of civil engineering that deals with the behavior of earth materials ensure that the structures we build today are able to stick over the surface of the earth, without tilting or sinking into the soil. Without geotechnical engineering principles, our roads, homes, dams and many other structures would literally be swallowed into the ground.


Geotechnical Engineers


Geotechnical engineers study the soil as well as rock layers that make up the earth in order to establish their physical and chemical characteristics. With this information, they can design foundations and earthworks structures for roads, buildings, and many other types of projects. But where exactly did this significant branch of construction engineering come from? Here is a brief history of geotechnical engineering;


1. The Primitive Era of Soil Usage


The history of geotechnical engineering is long and quite interesting. Our ancestors in the olden days used soil for an extensive variety of activities from building and creation of construction materials to irrigation and flood control. However, the earliest applications were not very much advanced. It was simply related to flood control as well as irrigation as exhibited by traces of dykes, dams, and canals that have been discovered in some parts of ancient Egypt, Greece and other parts of the world dating back to not less than 2000 BCE.


2. The Perception of Soil Design as an Art Rather than Science


As these areas developed, construction of structures which were supported by formalized foundations begun. For instance, the people of Greece notably built pad footings as well as strip-and-raft foundations during this time. However, the science of soil design was still a non existing phenomenon.


3. Foundation-Related Engineering Issues


By the 18th century as civilization advanced further, numerous engineering problems related to building foundations began to emerge. The Leaning Tower of Pisa which is a tourist attraction today for example presented a very unique challenge at that time.


What happened is that the tower had been constructed on soft ground composed mostly of clay, fine sand, and shells without using enough stones to make a strong foundation. Due to the heavy weight without enough base support, the structure had no option but to sink a little bit into the earth. One side happened to go further deeper into the ground than the other causing the tower to lean to one side. The Leaning Tower of Pisa actually makes an important part of the history of geotechnical engineering.


4. The Emergence of the Principles of Soil Mechanics (Geotechnical Engineering)

The Leaning Tower experience is what prompted engineers to start taking a more scientific approach to setting up foundations of buildings with respect to soil design and structure. Significant soil theories guiding the construction of building foundations began to emerge. A French engineer by the name Henri Gautier recognized “natural slope” of different soils an idea which later on developed into something known as soil’s angle of repose. And then more principles of soil mechanics came into existence.




From the primitive era of soil usage and the time when buildings would be erected without paying much attention to soil structure as well as design to the 18th century building challenges and the emergence of the principles of soil mechanics, the history of geotechnical engineering is a long and quite interesting one.

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Careers in Geotechnical Engineering

How To Go Into A Career as a Geo-technical Engineer and What is Involved

Geotechnical engineers are people whose job is to employ engineering applications and principles to examine sites for engineering projects so as to ensure that the man-made structures that will be erected in a particular site will be stable.

As a geotechnical engineer, you will need to have a firm grasp of geology and engineering principles as you would be required to apply the principles daily.

To get into the career as a geotechnical engineer you will need to possess a bachelor’s degree in geotechnical, structural or civil engineering. Alternatively, you can also pursue a degree in a related field such as geology. However, pursuing a degree in a related field may take you longer to finally meet the requisites of becoming a professional geotechnical engineer. But if you really want to be a geotechnical engineer and the only way you can succeed in becoming one is to follow the alternative route, then just follow your heart.

In school, geotechnical engineers receive the necessary skills to competently perform their jobs. For example, a geotechnical engineer needs to have sound knowledge of the different Computer Assisted Design software; a firm grasp of geology and engineering principles; a knowledge of the properties or qualities of geological materials; an awareness of the impact some design ideas could have on the environment; and a good understanding of the different construction methods, materials and tools.

Once you graduate with a geotechnical degree or acquire the qualifications of becoming a geotechnical engineer, you will need certification and licensure to work as a geotechnical engineer. Without a license, you will not get very far. As a cardinal rule, you cannot perform any unsupervised engineering work which affects public safety if you do not have a license. However, if getting a license proves to be arduous and daunting, you can still work on any engineering projects but under the supervision of a certified and licensed engineer.

To be licensed to operate as a geotechnical engineer you will need to pass a special exam, possess relevant work experience, in addition to possessing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program.

As a geotechnical engineer, your work will be to ensure the rock and soil of a site proposed for the construction of a foundation is stable and will remain stable when structures to be built will exert their pressure on the ground. The geotechnical engineer ought to also ensure that the structures will be stable in case of mudslides, earthquakes, and other natural phenomena.

So as to determine the stability of a particular site, the geotechnical engineer collects and analyzes the proposed construction site’s geological data. This exercise also gives the engineer some insight into the appropriate tools, materials, and methods to use during the construction process.

Finally, the geological engineer will prepare reports, designs as well as recommendations based on his findings. This he will present to the project stakeholders.

The work shouldn’t be daunting if geotechnical engineering is your passion. Beside, geotechnical engineers are in most cases paid well. However, the salary varies depending on a number of factors which include the level of experience, the level of education, the region where you work, as well as the specific responsibilities of your job.

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Geo What?

What is geotechnical engineering? Watch this short but informative video and find out. It deals with the relationship between us and the Earth we inhabit. We will go into depth soon about this fascinating subject…be sure to check back often.