Del Rio clients often enquire about geotechnical drilling and how it can be used to identify potential sinkhole sites. Florida is well known for its many sinkholes, which can destroy property and even claim lives. So how does a drilling operation help you to determine the site of a potentially devastating sinkhole? Well, that’s precisely what we’ll explore today.
Del Rio residents use geotechnical drilling as a relatively fast and cost-effective technique for locating the possible sinkhole site. The portable drill is transported to the location, where it begins to penetrate the ground, extracting a column of earth as it moves downward. This column of earth is called a core sample.
When the drill reaches an underground cavity, there is no earth collected in the core sample, leaving a gap. The drill operators will also notice a sudden drop off in the amount of resistance that the drill encounters while inside the cavity.
These underground cavities form in the bedrock as a result of erosion. In Florida, the bedrock is typically comprised of limestone, which is a very soft stone that actually dissolves when exposed to acids, such as those that are present in groundwater. This water erodes the stone, creating a pocket or void that typically increases in size with time. When the pressure atop the underground void reaches a certain point, the void will collapse. The result is a sinkhole.
When opting for geotechnical drilling, Del Rio clients can get an idea of the underground void’s depth and approximate size. Additional testing equipment, such as ground penetrating radar, may be brought in to help provide a more precise idea of the dimensions.
Once a potential sinkhole is located, the property owners may opt to build elsewhere if it’s a future development site. In cases where a property resides over the void, it can be pumped full of cement, thereby preventing a collapse. It’s also possible to sink stabilization rods into the bedrock, with the other end affixed to the foundation to provide support if the sinkhole were to collapse.