Earthwork Volumes by Contour Method

by Francis E. Smith, (M.ASCE), Pres. and Chf. Engr.; Calabasas Engrg. Corp., Woodland Hills, Calif.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Construction Division, 1976, Vol. 102, Issue 1, Pg. 131-143

Document Type: Journal Paper


A new method for the computation of earthwork volumes in massive hillside grading projects is developed which increases the accuracy and vastly reduces the time and cost of calculations. Computations utilize the contour method and a newly introduced rolling disk planimeter with an electronic digital readout. Contour and cross section methods of volume computation are contrasted, and the advantages and typical applications for each are analyzed. The contour method is considered superior to the cross section method for hillside grading projects. The contour method requires that finished contours be detailed on the construction drawing, thereby insuring an accurate delineation of graded slopes, and a drawing which is more easily read. Characteristics and advantages of polar and rolling disk planimeters are included. Use of the new method actually lowers construction costs since an accurate knowledge of earthwork quantities enables more precise design and most important, eliminates delays, cost over-runs, redesigns, and reconstruction caused by improperly balanced grading designs.

Subject Headings: Construction methods | Slopes | Construction costs | Earthwork | Computing in civil engineering | Project management | Measuring instruments | Cross sections

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