Geotechnical Drilling Meadow Woods How do you evaluate embankments and levees with geotechnical drilling?

Meadow Woods geotechnical drilling clients turn to our firm for lots of different projects, from evaluating the suitability of possible construction site, to detecting underground voids that could collapse into sinkholes.

Another application for geotechnical drilling involves the evaluation of levees and embankments. So how do you do this with geotechnical drilling? Meadow Woods drilling technicians took a few minutes to address this question in today’s article.

Meadow Woods geotechnical drilling technicians may need to evaluate an embankment, levee, dam or other earthen structure to determine the overall stability and determine whether additional measures are required to ensure safety and efficacy.

Some of these drilling projects are performed right as the levee, dam or embankment is being put into place, while others are performed on existing structures to help determine if intervention is required. This is especially important when you consider the essential nature of these structures, which can help promote proper drainage and prevent flooding in certain regions.

While an embankment or levee is under construction, you must compact the earth thoroughly and uniformly to avoid deterioration and poor performance in the future. Unfortunately, it can be quite challenging to determine if this type of structure has been properly constructed and compacted without the use of drilling.

When determining if you will perform geotechnical drilling, the firm must evaluate the location as the drilling operation can cause instability that could actually cause failure. One major risk arises from something known as hydraulic fracturing, which occurs due to stresses in the bore hole due to drilling fluid pressure, among other factors.

Another very preventable problem can arise if an inexperienced geotechnical drilling crew backfills a completed bore hole with drill cuttings, as is common practice for many drilling efforts. Instead, a drilling project on a dam, embankment or levee must utilize bentonite pellets or chips or a tremie cement/bentonite and sand grout to ensure stability.

The need for data must exceed or at minimum, justify the potential risk. Having an experienced geotechnical drilling team can greatly minimize your risk of damage or other issues, but even the best, most experienced drilling technicians can encounter problems.

It’s also important to remember that you must plan ahead to allow for your drilling plans to be reviewed and approved by the safety and oversight authorities in the case of a project involving a dam or levee.