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Matching Monitoring, Risk Allocation

and Geotechnical Baseline Reports

Martin Th. van Staveren and Ton J.M. Peters

GeoDelft, Stieltjesweg 2, 2628 CK Delft, The Netherlands

Tel: + 31 15-2693583
Fax: + 31 15-2610821

Abstract. Monitoring ground and construction behaviour is a well-known risk mitigation

tool during the construction of many European infrastructure projects. This paper explains
the relationship between geotechnical monitoring, geotechnical risk allocation and the
Geotechnical Baseline Report.
The main objective of this paper is to present a rational framework, which can be used to
define effective monitoring programmes from a risk management perspective. The frame-
work is supported with a recent case study of the Betuweroute, which is a very complicated
railway project in the Netherlands.

Keywords: geotechnical monitoring, risk management, geotechnical baseline report.

1 Introduction

Construction in, at and with the subsoil is still a serious risk factor for many Euro-
pean infrastructure projects. The subsoil literally will make, deform or even break
an infrastructure project. Many small and large projects run out of time or budget,
because of unforeseen behaviour of the subsoil.
In the Netherlands only, failure costs in the infrastructure construction industry
are assessed at 800 million euro per year (SBR 2003). Given the prominent role of
the subsoil in infrastructure projects, ground-related failure costs will be at least
several hundreds of million euro per year, in the Netherlands only. Extrapolating
these figures to a European scale results into ground-related failure costs of at
least a few billion euro per year.
Risk management can be considered as an effective tool to reduce these enor-
mous failure costs (Smith 1996). However, risk can be monitored and controlled
effectively only, if it is clear who is responsible for which risks. To be effective,
risk allocation should be made explicit and measurable. The Geotechnical Base-
line Report will be presented as a concept that can be applied for geotechnical risk

Robert Hack, Rag Azzam, and Robert Charlier (Eds.): LNES 104, pp. 786791, 2004.

c Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004
Matching Monitoring, Risk Allocation and Geotechnical Baseline Reports 787

2 Monitoring and Risk

The relationship between monitoring and risk management is presented in the

Simplified Risk Management Model in Figure 1.

Fig. 1. Simplified Risk Management Model.

The left-hand side of Figure 1 presents the steps of the conventional risk manage-
ment proces: risk identification, risk analysis, risk allocation and risk control. The
right-hand side of Figure 1 shows two particular tools: the Geotechnical Baseline
Report as a tool for geotechnical risk allocation and the Monitoring Programme as
a tool for risk control. There are, of course, also tools for risk identification and
analysis, but these are beyond the scope of this paper.
Figure 1 is intended to demonstrate that the purpose of a monitoring pro-
gramme is risk control, and that a Geotechnical Baseline Report can define a
monitoring programme by its risk allocation. Any monitoring programme should
be driven by risk control. The required accuracy, reliability, frequency and usabil-
ity of the monitoring programme, given the expected soil conditions, should be
balanced with budget and time constraints.

3 Why Risk Allocation?

The general definition of the term risk is the product of the likelyhood of occur-
ence of an event and the consequences of that event. Normally these events are
hazards, with the potential to have negative effects. In this paper risk is considered
by definition as potentially harmful. Risk management can be defined as the over-
all application of policies, processes and practices dealing with risk (Clayton
2001). Allocation of risk means that an identified risk becomes the explicit re-
sponsibility of a party or will be shared explicitly between parties as a joint re-
sponsibility (Smith 1996).
788 Martin Th. van Staveren and Ton J.M. Peters

If a certain identified risk is not explicitly allocated, none of the parties in-
volved in a project will have the drive to take responsibility for that particular risk.
This means probably that the risk will not be managed adequately. If that risk
occurs, a dispute will start about which party will bear the consequences and
should take action to minimise the effects of the risk.

4 Risk Allocation by a GBR

The Geotechnical Baseline Report (GBR) is developed in the United States of
America in the nineteen nineties, because disputes about differing soil conditions
in civil engineering projects were rising to an unacceptable level for all parties
involved. Guidelines for preparing a GBR are presented by the American Society
of Civil Engineers (Essex 1997). The steps to arrive at an GBR, as experienced in
the Netherlands, are described by Van Staveren and Knoeff (2004).
The essential underlying philosophy of the GBR is a specific contractual state-
ment. It states that the owner is ultimately responsible for any soil conditions
which are materially different from the anticipated soil conditions in geotechnical
reports. Even if the owner contractually states that the contractor is responsible for
all soil conditions, jurisdiction demonstrates that the owner is ultimately responsi-
ble, simply because the owner initiates the project.
This philosophy raises the question about when soil conditions are materially
different. The GBR provides the answer to that question, by contractual defini-
tions of the anticipated soil conditions. The soil conditions can be contractually
defined by geotechnical subsoil profiles or geotechnical baseline parameters. The
Geotechnical Baseline Report allows the owner to allocate geotechnical risk by
definition of geotechnical baselines. The main benefit for the owner is to be able
to create an optimum balance between perceived risk and cost of the project. The
main benefit for the contractor is clearness about which geotechnical risks are his
responsibility and which are the owners responsibility.

5 How to Allocate Monitoring-Related Risk?

Regarding the allocation of monitoring related risk, two types of risk can be dis-
1. Geotechnical risks (strategic) drives what to monitor
2. Competence risks (tactical or operational) drives how to monitor
The geotechnical risks should be controlled by the monitoring system. Occurrence
of these risks have to be identified by the monitoring results. Monitoring might,
for instance, indicate lower settlement rates than expected of a railway embank-
ment. These results imply a risk of delay or additional costs, because additional
measures such as more pre-loading might be necessary to meet the settlement
requirements at the end of the construction phase of the project.
Geotechnical risks can obviously not be allocated to a contractor operating
solely the monitoring system. That party is only responsible for the competence
Matching Monitoring, Risk Allocation and Geotechnical Baseline Reports 789

risks. Geotechnical risks are the responsibility of either the owner or the main
contractor, depending on the risk allocation presented in the Geotechnical Base-
line Report.
The design of the geotechnical monitoring system should be driven by the an-
ticipated and allocated geotechnical risks. The major geotechnical risks to be
monitored should be derived from the risk identification and analysis steps in the
risk management process (see Figure 1). Geotechnical risks should therefore be
anticipated and allocated before the actual monitoring system is selected, installed
and operated.
Competence risks include all risks which are associated with selecting, install-
ing and operating the monitoring system, given the expected soil conditions as
presented in the Geotechnical Baseline Report. Failure of equipment during or
after installation, the influence of the instrument on the soil parameters (confor-
mance), the measurement frequency, the measurement range and the accuracy of
the instruments are typical examples of competence risk. Adequate control of
these risks should be achieved by choosing a competent party, the monitoring
contractor, to select, install and operate the monitoring system. The entire set of
competence risks should therefore be allocated to the monitoring contractor, as he
is able to control the monitoring competence risk.

6 The Betuwe Route Risk Driven Monitoring Case

6.1 Project Description

The Betuweroute is a double-track freight railway linking the Port of Rotterdam

directly to the European hinterland. The Betuweroute is being constructed at a cost
of 4.3 billion euro (price level of 1999). In the year 2010, the Betuweroute is ex-
pected to carry 75 percent of Dutch railway freight transport.
The Sliedrecht-Gorinchem traverse is 22 km in length and consists of 10-12 m
of very soft clay and peat layers with a high groundwater table. Under the soft
layers lies Pleistocene sand, with a water pressure level rising above ground level.
In this paper one major strategic risk and the resulting operational monitoring
aspects are highlighted briefly. Additional technical and contractual information is
presented by Molendijk and Peters (2003), Molendijk and Van den Berg (2003),
Molendijk and Aantjes (2003) and Molendijk et al (2003). The following case is
collected from these references.

6.2 A Major Strategic Geotechnical Risk

The railway embankment varies between 1.5 m and 8 m height and is constructed
on very soft subsoil, using the hydraulic fill method. Geotextile is used to rein-
force the embankment. The sand will be deposited in several stages. It is a fast,
cost-effective method with long-term construction and environmental effects, due
to the slow consolidation process of the underlying soft soils. As the construction
planning and the post construction settlement are of critical importance, a slower
790 Martin Th. van Staveren and Ton J.M. Peters

Fig. 2. The Sliedrecht Gorinchem part of the Betuwe Route

consolidation proces than anticipated is a major geotechnical risk in this project.

This paper will focus on the monitoring of this particular consolidation risk.

6.3 Dealing with Operational Monitoring Risks

In order to construct at lowest cost, construction and protective measures such as

extra drainage, overheight and sheet piling will be kept to a minimum. These types
of expensive measures were postponed as long as possible, by relatively fast fill-
ing of the embankment with smaller safety margins for stability. As construction
progresses, the actual soil behaviour was monitored and evaluated, the so-called
observational method.
The acceptance of smaller safety margins introduced tactical or operational
monitoring risks, which were controlled by systematic risk assessment, based on
the available Geotechnical Baseline Report, a tailored monitoring program with a
structured data management system and the availability of fall back scenarios and
control measures.
Advantages of the resulting risk driven monitoring programme were transpar-
ancy in the actual risk profile (less time-consuming discussions with owners of
objects and infrastructure near the railway track), less safety measures on the adja-
cent existing railway track and motorway and structured data transfer at the end of
the project, (allowing data use during the maintenance period, to minimise main-
tenance costs in the future).

6.4 The Role of the Geotechnical Baseline Report

Starting point for the design of the monitoring programme was the risk analysis in
the Geotechnical Baseline Report. Key risk drivers were defined. Examples are
the thickness of soft layers and their consolidation coefficients. For each key risk
driver, a prediction of the expected (best-guess) values was made. Next the
threshold value or baseline for unacceptable values was determined and the action
to be taken was defined, in case of reaching the baseline. For every key risk driver,
a suitable monitoring instrument and the required frequency of data acquisition
and processing was selected.
Matching Monitoring, Risk Allocation and Geotechnical Baseline Reports 791

Monitoring of soil behaviour was a good indicator to compare design assump-

tions on consolidation time with the true behaviour, as measured on site. The ad-
vantage of these type of measurements is the early warning for unwanted behav-
iour, allowing remedial actions to be taken in time, before unacceptable damage
The Geotechnical Baseline Report proved to be a valuable document, in order
to define the optimum monitoring programme to control the consolidation risk.
The risk driven monitoring programme for the Betuwe Route, based on the Geo-
technical Baseline Report, contributed importantly to the completion within plan-
ning and to 10 % costs savings as well.

7 Conclusions
The following general conclusions are supported by the very complicated and
successfully completed Sliedrecht Gorinchem section of the Betuwe Route.
A risk driven approach helps owners and contractors to define monitoring pro-
grammes with the best possible benefit-to-cost ratios.
Distinguishing geotechnical and competence monitoring risks appears to be
useful. It clarifies which party is responsible for what risk. The relatively new
concept of the Geotechnical Baseline Report serves as a useful document to iden-
tify and allocate responsibilities for differing soil conditions and associated risks.
The Geotechnical Baseline Report may therefore serve as basis for more effective
and efficiently operated monitoring programmes.

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