Ground Improvement for Underground Construction: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

by Paul C. Schmall, P.E., Ph.D., (F.ASCE), Vice President, Chief Engineer; Rockaway NJ, pschmall@moretrench.com,
, D.GE

Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2016, Vol. 20, Issue 5, Pg. 48-54


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Underground construction is "special" because the work may be performed at great depths and under high groundwater pressures. All too often, it seems to take place in urban areas where there is limited surface access, but a seemingly unlimited number of infrastructure features and structures. Murphy's Law of Geotechnical Engineering tells us that most of those structures will be very sensitive, and built on shallow foundations that are vulnerable to the adverse effects of construction. It's in these locations that engineers and contractors find themselves learning the hard lessons of working underground: the ground will relax with deep excavation, and ground loss or instability will occur due to the presence of groundwater. There are many good situations where ground improvement will be well suited to address a concern, some bad situations where ground conditions may be unexpected or ground improvement may be insufficient, and downright ugly events when the bad isn't recognized and blow-ins and catastrophic ground loss occurs.

Subject Headings: Underground construction | Soil stabilization | Infrastructure construction | Groundwater | Shallow foundations | Urban areas | Infrastructure

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