Determination and Presentation of Subsurface Conditions for Design and Construction

by Louis R. Frei, US Bureau of Reclamation, Golden, United States,
Clarence O. Duster, US Bureau of Reclamation, Golden, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Detection of and Construction at the Soil/Rock Interface


A major problem in the design and construction of many engineering projects is the lack of adequate geotechnical information both for design and for determining conditions to be encountered in required excavations. Although excavation difficulties can represent major impacts to the cost and construction schedules for a project, little effort is usually made to define subsurface conditions in terms useful for determining these difficulties. Understanding geologic conditions and their significance to the design and construction process is often a key to the economics of a project. What is known, and more importantly, what is not known about subsurface conditions must be presented in terms that can be equated to both design requirements and the economic consequences to construction. During the design of a project, the quality of the geotechnical data provided and the understanding of the significance of that data to design will determine how well the design is optimized for subsurface conditions. The geotechnical data gathered must also address the effects of the subsurface geologic conditions on the costs of construction. Uncertainties that remain regarding subsurface conditions and predicted response to construction operations must be accommodated in the design and communicated to prospective contractors so that the bidding process reflects the best understanding possible of subsurface conditions. These concepts reflect the process currently implemented in the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation).

Subject Headings: Construction management | Subsurface environment | Economic factors | Project management | Excavation | Geology | Geotechnical data | Structural design

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