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Chapter Two

Site Investigation
Contents
• Definition
• Purpose of Site Exploration
• Plans and Stages of Site Investigation
• Methods of Soil Investigation
• Sampling
• Field (In situ Testing)
• Evaluation of Field Test Data
• Laboratory Tests for Foundation Engineering
• Extent and Detail of Site Exploration
• References
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Definition
• Site investigation is the process by which geological, geotechnical, and
other relevant information which might affect the construction or
performance of a civil engineering or building project is acquired.
• Soil and rock are created by many processes out of a wide variety of
materials. Because deposition is irregular, soils and rocks are notoriously
variable, and often have properties which are undesirable from the point of
view of a proposed structure.
• Geotechnical problems, therefore occur and require geotechnical
parameters for their solution.
• Generally field investigation includes exploration through intrusive
procedures, field testing, sampling and laboratory testing
• Generally costs between 0.1 to 1 % of overall construction costs
• However, to avoid this cost and find out later on after construction
began one has to redesign the building foundation is a false economy

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Purpose of Filed Investigation
• Objective of Site Investigation
• Selecting the type and depth of foundation suitable for a given
structure
• Evaluating the load bearing capacity of the foundation
• Estimation the probable settlement of the structure
• Determine potential foundation problems (e.g. expansive soils,
collapsible soils, sanitary land fills etc)
• Determining the location of the water table an its fluctuation
• Prediction of lateral earth pressure for structures like retaining walls
• Establishing construction methods for challenging sub soil conditions
(need for dewatering or sheet pile etc)
• Identify environmental problems and potential mitigation measures

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Purpose of Filed Investigation
• Objective of Site Investigation cont….
• Commonly investigations need to determine the following
index and engineering properties of the soil
• A review of the geological history of the site and major rock types
and geologic structures (existence of fault lines etc)
• Soil Index properties for identification (Particle Size Distribution &
Atterberg’s Limits)
• Vertical Stratification in the region of Interest
• In situ density,Dr
• Internal angle of friction,𝝓 and cohesion C
• Ground Water Level and Extent of Fluctuation with pore water
pressure information
• Compressibility Characteristics mv,co & cc ; Stress History with OCR
and Ko values
• Modulus of Elasticities E and G and Strain-Stress Curve
• Permeability Charctertics ,k
• Liquefaction Potential

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Plan and Stages of Site Investigation
• It is important to note that all these parameters are not required for all
projects
• To avoid unnecessary cost the field investigation shall be planed in
various levels(Stages) called Site Investigation Program
• The following investigation shall be gathered to plan an investigation
program
• Site plan including grading, earth works, • Maximum and minimum column loads
drainage plans • Location and height of retaining walls and
• Building foot print for every structure in basement walls
the project • Anticipated limits on settlement to be
• Overall average uniform pressure exerted used in structural calculations
on the foot print • Anticipated shear wall drift (angular
• Type of structural system used in the rotation) to be used in structural
building calculation
• Foundation layouts, spread footings, • Any anticipated isolated concentrated
strips and grade beams etc loads that are not used in the column
• Location and estimated magnitude of loads
lateral loads • Whether surcharge load is to be used to
reduce settlements
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Plan and Stages of Site Investigation
• Stages of Site Investigation
• Desk study
• Collection of preliminary data and Information on proposed
location, building dimensions, basement requirements and
anticipated loads, appropriate codes and regulation, etc
• Geology maps, soil maps, aerial photo graphs, hydrological data,
local publication, water well logs etc
• A brief report with recommendation for reconnaissance goals
• Reconnaissance
• Visual inspection of the site, existing structures, runoff patterns,
rock outcrops, preliminary borings for index property testing in
laboratory
• A report on the site condition with a plan for detail site investigation
with justification
• Prior to commencement of any intrusive exploration the site
should be checked for underground utilities

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Plan and Stages of Site Investigation
• Stages of Site Investigation
• Preliminary Investigation
• Few borings or a test pit is excavated, sample taken for
identification, soil stratification explored, groundwater conditions
assessed
• Adequate for small structures
• Detailed Sub Surface Exploration
• Sinking bore holes, collecting soil samples, Laboratory testing and
Field testing
• Determination of the design parameters and plan for observation
during construction
• Evaluation of the performance of existing installations, relative to
their structure foundation material and environment in the
immediate vicinity of the proposed site
• Should evidence of potentially hazardous or otherwise
contaminated materials or conditions be encountered in the
course of the investigation, work should be interrupted

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Methods of Soil Investigation
• The most widely used method of subsurface investigations is
boring holes into the ground from which samples may be taken
for laboratory testing and in situ tests may be conducted
• The boring can be manual auger or machine boring
Manual boring for 1-5 m Machine boring boring for 100 m with sand size
cuttings captured from return flow

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Methods of Soil Investigation
• Wash Boring Exploration

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Methods of Soil Investigation
Pit Excavation and Trench
Helps for visual
Ideal to acquire undisturbed sample inspection soil
Helps to collect
undisturbed
sample

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Methods of Soil Investigation
• Sampling
• Obtain samples that adequately represent each subsurface
material that is significant to the project design and
construction.
• The size and type of sample required is dependent upon the tests
to be performed, the relative amount of coarse particles present,
and the limitations of the test equipment to be used
• Accurately identify each sample with the boring, test hole, or
test pit number and depth below reference ground surface
from which it was taken
• To determine the most important parameters of soil
foundation Design i.e. Shear strength parameters,
compressibility characteristics and permeability one requires
an “undisturbed Sample”
• Index properties can be determined from disturbed Samples

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Methods of Soil Investigation
• Sampling Cont….
• Factors the deter collection of “undisturbed Samples”
include;
• Samples are always unloaded from the confining in situ stress
i.e. unknown vertical and lateral expansion takes place
• Samples from sources other than test pits are affected by
volume displacement of the sampling instrument
• Sample friction on the sides of sampling device compresses the
sample i.e. most samples have a narrow cutting edge
• Unknown change on the water content based the method of
sampling
• Loss of pore water pressure may induce gas bubbles in the soil
• Handling and transporting of samples
• Quality of workmanship

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Methods of Soil Investigation
• Sampling Cohesionless Soils (sand)
• It is nearly impossible to obtain undisturbed samples of
cohesionless material for strength testing
• Sometimes samples of reasonable quality can be
obtained using thin-walled piston samplers in medium-
to fine-grained sands
• The primary use of "undisturbed" cohesionless samples
is to obtain the unit weight 𝜸 or relative density Dr
• Since it is nearly impossible to recover undisturbed
samples from cohesionless deposits, density, strength,
and compressibility estimates are usually obtained from
field tests

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Methods of Soil Investigation
• Sampling Cohesive Soils
• Undisturbed samples of cohesive soils can be recovered from
test pits/trenches or boreholes using thin walled samplers
• If the soil is extremely soft, or experience indicates that in situ
tests should be made, only a few "undisturbed" tube samples
for consolidation tests should be taken
• As a general rule, tube samples for consolidation tests should be at
least 12 mm larger than the consolidation ring (to allow trimming
the disturbed perimeter)
• Sample disturbance is a function of the rate of penetration,
magnitude of the pushing or driving force, presence of gravel
and the area ration of the sampler
𝐷𝑜2 −𝐷𝑖2
𝐴𝑟 =
𝐷𝑖2
𝑥100 undisturbed samplers shall have Ar< 10%

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Methods of Soil Investigation
• Field (In situ) Testing
• Sampling disturbances and sample preparation for laboratory
tests significantly affect the shear strength parameters
• Consequently, a variety of field tests have been developed to
obtain more reliable soil shear strength parameters by testing
soils in-situ
• In the following sections some of the most popular field tests
are described
• These include but not limited to
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT) ASTM D1586,D1587,D3550
• Cone Penetration Test(CPT) ASTM D3441
• Plate Dilatometer test (DMT)
• Pressure meter Test (PMT) ASTM D4719
• Vane Shear Test (VST) ASTM D2573

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Methods of Soil Investigation

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Field (In situ) Test
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT)
• The Standard Penetration Test (SPT) was developed
around 1927 and it is perhaps the most popular field
test performed mostly in coarse grained (or
cohesionless) soils
• The SPT is performed by driving a standard split spoon
sampler into the ground by blows from a drop hammer
of mass 64 kg falling 760 mm
• The sampler is driven 150 mm into the soil at the
bottom of a borehole, and the number of blows (N)
required to drive it an additional 300 mm is counted
• The number of blows N is called the standard
penetration number

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Field (In situ) Test
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT)
• The standard penetration test (SPT) is performed during
the advancement of a soil boring to obtain an
approximate measure of the dynamic soil resistance, as
well as a disturbed drive sample (split barrel type)
• The SPT involves the driving of a hollow thick-walled
tube into the ground and measuring the number of
blows to advance the split-barrel sampler a vertical
distance of 300 mm (1 foot)
• A drop weight system is used for the pounding where a
63.5-kg (140-lb) hammer repeatedly falls from 0.76 m
(30 inches) to achieve three successive increments of
150-mm (6-inches) each

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Field (In situ) Test
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT)

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Field (In situ) Test
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT) Test Procedure
• The first increment is recorded as a “seating”, while the
number of blows to advance the second and third increments
are summed to give the N-value ("blow count") or SPT-
resistance (reported in blows/0.3 m or blows per foot)
• If the sampler cannot be driven 450 mm, the number of
blows per each 150-mm increment and per each partial
increment is recorded on the boring log
• For partial increments, the depth of penetration is recorded
in addition to the number of blows
• The test can be performed in a wide variety of soil types, as
well as weak rocks, yet is not particularly useful in the
characterization of gravel deposits nor soft clays

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Field (In situ) Test
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT) Test Procedure

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Field (In Situ) Testing
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT)
• The boring log shows refusal and the test is halted when
• 50 blows are required for any 150mm
• 100 blows are obtained to drive 300mm
• 10 successive blows require no advance
• The SPT is conducted at the bottom of a soil boring that
has been prepared using either flight augers or rotary
wash drilling methods.
• At regular depth intervals, the drilling process is
interrupted to perform the SPT.
• Generally, tests are taken every 0.76 m (2.5 feet) at
depths shallower than 3 meters (10 feet) and at
intervals of 1.5 m (5.0 feet) thereafter.
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Field (In Situ) Testing
• Standard Penetration Test(SPT)

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Field (In Situ) Testing
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT)
• The fact that the test provides both a sample and a number is
useful, yet problematic, as one cannot do two things well at
the same time
• The limitation of SPT is difficulty to reproduce results
• Gibbs and Holts (1957) reported overburden pressure and
length of drill road as measure causes of lack of consistency
• Later on it was shown a number of factors influence the test
results which shifted the focus to driving energy
• The theoretical energy of the standard hammer falling
standard height Ein is 475 Joules
• Kovacs and Salomone (1982) found in practice the actual
energy, Ea is between 30% to 80% of the theoretical value
• Hence the reported values of blow count , N , may give
different values for the same layer of soil
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Field (In Situ) Testing
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT)
• The variation in SPT-N values can be
attributed to;
• Equipment differences from different
manufacturers
• Driver hammer configurations whether
• The hammer uses automatic configuration
• Diameter and condition of cathead
• Number of turns of rope on the cathead
• Actual drop height the operator releases
• Whether a liner is used inside the split
barrel sampler
• Overburden pressure
• Length of drill road

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Field (In Situ) Testing
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT)
• The SPT-N value has been standardized to some input value as
𝐴𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑙 𝐻𝑎𝑚𝑚𝑒𝑟 𝐸𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑦 𝐸𝑎
𝐸𝑟 = x100%
𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑟𝑒𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝐼𝑛𝑝𝑢𝑡 𝐸𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑦 𝐸𝑖𝑛

• Bowles J.E (1996) Suggests a ratio of 70% based data from North
American and ASTM 1586 guidelines
Hence a standard N’70 is given as
1/2

95.76
𝑁70 = 𝐶𝑁 𝑥𝑁 𝑥 𝜂1 𝑥𝜂2 𝑥 𝜂3 𝑥 𝜂4 where 𝐶𝑁 =
𝑝𝑜′
CN is adjustment for effective overburden po’(kPa)
𝜂 𝑎𝑑𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑓𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑠
-
• If one wishes to compute the blow count for other efficiency, a
simple energy ratio suffices, i.e.

𝐸𝑟1 𝑥𝑁1 = 𝐸𝑟2 𝑥𝑁2


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Field (In Situ) Testing
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT
• SPT-N Correlations
• The SPT has been used in correlation to determine unit
weigh,ϒ, relative density, Dr, internal angle of friction,𝜙 ,
undrained compressive strength qu
• It has also been used to determine bearing capacity and
modulus of elasticity, Es
• However, most of these correlations are questionable in a
sense the are based on small data base or the Er values are not
known
• How ever the correlations can be used in preliminary stages of
design

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Field (In Situ) Testing
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT
• SPT-N Correlations Bowels J.E (1996)

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Field (In Situ) Testing
• Standard Penetration Test (SPT
• SPT-N Correlations Bowels J.E (1996)
• Correlation between Internal Angle of friction,𝜙 and SPT-N
Values
Shioi and Fukuri(1982) 𝛟= 𝟏𝟖𝑵′𝟕𝟎 + 𝟏𝟓 Railway Project
𝝓 = 𝟎. 𝟑𝟔𝑵𝟕𝟎 + 𝟐𝟕 Railway projects
𝝓 = 𝟒. 𝟓𝑵𝟕𝟎 + 𝟐𝟎 Building Projects

• Correlation Between SPT-N and relative Density Dr


• Skempton (1986)
𝑵′𝟕𝟎
= 𝟑𝟐 + 𝟎. 𝟐𝟖𝟖𝒑′𝒐 where p’o(kPa)
𝑫𝟐𝒓
• Correlation between SPT-N and qu
𝒒𝒖=𝒌𝑵
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Extent and Detail of Exploration
• Depth of Exploration
• According to the ASCE (1972)
follow the following steps
• Determine the net increase in
effective stress, Δ𝜎 ′ ,at the
foundation with Depth as shown
• Estimate the variation of the vertical
effective stress, 𝜎′𝑜 ,with depth
• Determine D=D1 at which the
effective stress equals 1/10th of s
(estimated stress on the foundation)
• Determine D=D2 at which
• Choose the smaller of the two
depths as the minimum exploratory
depth unless bed rock is
encountered
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Extent and Detail of Exploration
• Depth of Exploration[EBCS 7, 1995 recommendations]
• For sites of problematic soils, the exploration shall continue
to a hard stratum
• For foundation on rocks, the explorations shall continue at
least two meter to unweathered rock
• For structures with footings the exploration shall continue at
least three times the width of the footing from the base level
of the footing but not less than 1.5m
• For structures on mat foundations the exploration depth shall
be one half times the width of the mat from the base of the
mat but not less than 6m
• For structures on pile foundations the explorations shall
exceed at least 3m that at which the piles may be founded
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Extent and Detail of Exploration
• The Area of Exploration
• To establish the size of the area that must be
investigated, it is necessary only to establish the extent
of the pressure bulb
• A typical case is shown in below, where the three
dimensional pressure bulb is shown for the length and
width of a rectangular building
• It does not matter that the load is actually delivered to
the soil by discrete footing loads rather than as an
overall uniform pressure;
• the overall dissemination of pressure and the overall size of the
bulb of influence are the same for either case

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Extent and Detail of Exploration
• The Area of Exploration

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Extent and Detail of Exploration
• The Area of Exploration
• The outer pressure contour
shown in the figure is the
contour representing an increase
in vertical pressure amounting to
10% of the average contact
pressure Pavg.
• The Bosenesque’s equations can
be used to estimate the
aforementioned pressure
envelope
• However, a simple approximation
can be made to satisfactory
accuracy to plan soil investigation
can developed by taking the side
slope of a pressure bulb at 2:1, as
indicated as;

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Extent and Detail of Exploration
• Area and depth of exploration
• The total weigh of the building is denoted by Pavg BL
• At the base of the pressure bulb, the in-situ vertical pressure
is 𝛾H, hence at 5% increase
3 2
𝐻 𝐻 𝐻 100𝑃𝑎𝑣𝑒
+ 1+𝑛 + −n =0
𝐵 𝐵 𝐵 5𝛾𝐵

• Solving this third degree polynomial for a known values of n =


L/B and B would give the result for H and the horizontal
extent of exploration can be determined

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Extent and Detail of Exploration
Example 2.1
A soil investigation is being plan for concrete building 25m x 61m in
plan and five stories high. Determine the dimensions of the pressure
bulb. Assume the floor loads are given as 8.4 kN/m2 for each floor
and 7.2kN/m2 for the roof. And the unit weight of soil is 16kN/m3.

Depth of exploration shall be at about 23.5m from the surface


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Extent and Detail of Exploration
• Number of Exploratory Bore Holes
• EBCS 7 Recommendations on number and spacing of Borings
and test pits
• The depth and spacing of test pits and borings shall be such
that to reveal any major change in thickness and property of
strata
• The spacing and minimum number of borings are given Table
3.1 of EBCS 7 (page 22,1995) as shown below
Area of Spacing of Borings in m for horizontal stratification of soil Minimum number
Investigation of Borings
Uniform Moderate Erratic

Multi story 50 25 10 2*
Single or Two 60 30 15 2
Towers & Piers 30 7.5 1 to 2 for each
* If supplemented with sounding testing other wise 4.
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Extent and Detail of Exploration
• Other References also give guidelines based on their
local experiences

Codato, P.D,(2001) p108-109

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Geotechnical Site Investigation Report
• After the completion of detailed investigation, a geotechnical site
investigation report shall be produced with the “best value”
recommendation fro the following parameters
• Soil Strength parameters, c and 𝜙
• Allowable bearing capacity considering both bearing capacity and
allowable settlement
• Engineering parameters such as E,G,𝝂 and ks
• The investigation reports will flow a prescribed formats from
clients. However, they should at least include;
• Narrative of the work done and recommendations
• Summary of findings
• Appendixes with log sheets of each boring and laboratory raw data and
test results
• Section 3.7 of EBCS 7 (1995) specify the required quality of
investigation report
• Standard symbols for soil and rock are forwarded by ASTM D653

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Geotechnical Site Investigation Report
• A plan and profile of borings shall be presented

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References
Bowels, J., E.,(1996) Foundation Analysis and Design,5th Ed.,McGraw-Hill
Companies Inc.
French, S.E.,(1999) Design of Shallow Foundations, ASCE Press,1801
Alexander Bell Drive, Rosten Virginia 20191-4400
Codato, P.D,(2001), Foundation Design, principle and practice 2nd Ed,
Prentice Hall, Hobekan NJ
EBCS 7 1995 Ethiopian Building Code of Standards, Foundations Ministry
of Works and Urban Development
ASTM D 420-98,Site Characterization for Engineering Design and
Construction Purposes

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Assignment I
1. Write a brief review of the following laboratory Tests.
Include the sample requirement, procedure, results
and potential sources of error
Description Group Students in a group
Sieve & Hydrometer Analysis
Water Content, Unit weight and Atterberg’s Limits
Soil Classification Methods
Compaction Test and Hydraulic Conductivity
Direct Shear Test & Unconfined Comp. Tests
Triaxial Tests
Consolidation Tests

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