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Foundation Engineering

Excavation and Bracing

By Group 1

What is Foundation?

Foundation is a basis upon which something stands or is supported by. To put it

simpler, a foundation is a supporting structure.

Foundations are established below surface of the ground. It only means they can not
be constructed until the soil or rock above the base level of the foundation is excavated.
Excavation below the water table usually requires drainage of the site either before or
during construction.


Engineering works created through the moving or processing of parts of the earth's
surface involving quantities of soil or unformed rock. The earth may be moved to another
location and formed into a desired shape for a purpose. Much of earthworks involve
machine excavation and fill or backfill.


It means to hollow out or form by hollowing out. It simply means to dig out, in this
case, a portion of land and form it in its desired form.
Excavation may be classified by type of material and purpose:

Topsoil excavation

Earth excavation

Rock excavation

Muck excavation

Unclassified excavation

Topsoil excavation
Removal of the exposed layer of the earths surface, including vegetation. Since the topsoil, or
mantle soil, supports growth of trees and other vegetation, this layer contains more moisture
than that underneath, So that the lower layer will lose moisture and become easier to handle.
When removed, topsoil usually is stockpiled. Later, it is restored on the site for landscaping or
to support growth of vegetation to control erosion.

Earth excavation
Removal of the layer of soil immediately under the topsoil and on top of rock. Used to
construct embankments and foundations. Earth usually is easy to move with scrapers or other
types of earthmoving equipment.

Rock excavation
Removal of formation that cannot be excavated without drilling and blasting. Any boulder
larger than 12 yd generally is classified as rock. In contrast, earth is a formation that when
plowed and ripped breaks down into small enough pieces to be easily moved, loaded in hauling
units, and readily incorporated into an embankment or foundation in relatively thin layers.
Muck excavation
This usually contains excess water and unsuitable soil. Muck excavation is removal of material
that contains excessive amount of water and undesirable soil. Its consistency is determined by
the percentage of water contained. Removal of water can be accomplished by spreading muck
over a large area and letting it dry, by changing soil characteristics, or by stabilizing muck with
some other material, thereby reducing the water content.

Unclassified excavation
Unclassified excavation is removal of any combination of topsoil, earth, rock, and muck.
Contracting agencies frequently use this classification. It means that earthmoving must be done
without regard to the materials encountered. Much excavation is performed on an unclassified
basis because of the difficulty of distinguishing, legally or practically, between earth, muck, and
rock. Unclassified excavation must be carried out to the lines and grades shown on the plans
without regard to percentage of moisture and type of material found between the surface and
final depth.


Roadway excavation

Drainage excavation

Bridge excavation

Footing excavation


Usually includes removal of all material between the original surface and the top any
material that is acceptable for permanent embankment.
Roadway excavation

Is that portion of a highway cut that begins where stripping was completed and
terminates at the line of finished sub grade or bottom of base course. Often, however,
stripping is made part of roadway excavation.

Drainage or Structure excavation

Removal of material encountered during installation of drainage structures other than
bridges. Those structures are sometimes referred to as minor drainage structures and
include roadway pipe and culverts.

Bridge excavation
Removal of material encountered in digging for footing and abutments. Often, bridge
excavation is subdivided into wet, dry, and rock excavation. The dividing line between wet
and dry excavation usually is denoted by specification of a ground elevation.

Footing excavation

Is the digging of a column or wall foundation for a building. This work usually is done to as
neat a line and grade as possible, so that concrete may be cast without forms.

Open excavation with unsupported slopes

Shallow excavations can be made without supporting the surrounding material if
there is adequate space to establish slopes at which the material can stand. As a rule,
construction slopes are made as steep as the material will permit because the occurrence of
few small slides is generally serious. The maximum slope at which the clay soil can stand is a
function of the depth of the cut and of the shearing resistance of clay.

Stiff or hard clays commonly posses or develop cracks near ground surface. If these
cracks become filled with water, hydrostatic pressure greatly reduces factor of safety and
may cause slope failures. For these reasons, Bracing is often used to support sides of
excavation in clay, even though the clay would stand briefly to the necessary height
without lateral support.
Sheeting and Bracing for Shallow excavation
Many Buildings extend to the edges of property lines or adjacent to other sites
which structure already exist. Under these circumstances, sides of excavation must be
vertical and be supported. If the hole is not to extend to a depth greater than 12ft, it is
common practice to drive vertical planks known as sheeting around the boundary.

The depth where the sheeting is driven is usually kept near that of the bottom of the
hole as excavation progresses. The sheeting is held in place by horizontal beams called
Wales. If the excavation is too wide for the use of struts, the wales may be supported by
inclined struts known as rakers.

Vertical Timber Sheeting

Consist of planks, 8cm-10cm thick are driven around boundary of proposed
excavation to a depth below base of excavation. The soil between the sheeting is
excavated. The sheeting is held in place by a system of wales and struts.
Sheeting and Bracing for Deep excavation
When the depth of excavation exceeds 15 or 20 ft, the use of vertical timber
sheeting generally becomes uneconomical. According to one procedure, steel sheet piles
are driven around the boundary of excavation. As the soil is removed from enclosure, wales
struts are inserted.

The commonly used sheet piles for this purpose are: Arch web, flat web, z piling.
Arch and flat webs are used in shallow excavations whereas z piling is used for the deeper
excavations and those where heavier pressures are exerted.

As soon as excavation has proceeded for a few feet, wales and struts are
immediately applied. Excavation then proceeds to a lower level, and another set of wales
and struts are installed. This process continues until excavation is complete. In most types
of soil, a vertical face of several square feet can be exposed without danger of collapse of
the ground. It may then be possible to eliminate the sheet piles and replace them with a
series of H piles also known as soldier piles. As soil next to the pile is removed, horizontal
boards known as lagging are introduced, wedged outside the cut.
As an alternative to cross lot bracing or inclined struts, tiebacks are often used.
Inclined holes are drilled into the soil outside sheeting or h piles; in favorable ground, an
enlargement or bell is formed at the end of the hole. Each tieback is usually pressed before
the depth of excavation is increased the equipment used is similar to drilling piers.

Movements associated with excavation

Again, Excavation involves removal of materials, in this, the damage in the state of
stress in the soil beneath and adjacent to the excavated space. It concerns the other
structures with shallow foundation that do not extend below the zone of influence of the
adjacent excavation. Due to the depth of the foundation level of the new building below the
existing foundation level of the old building the excavation needs to be braced during
foundation construction.

Soil Instability is one of the reason why excavated area should be braced during the
foundation construction. These soil movements due to excavation can cause large
deflection which may lead to structural distress and failure on the foundations of the new
building and existing foundation of the old building nearby. Bracing the excavated area for
the new foundation construction helps to prevent or minimize the damage to the adjacent
buildings and underground utilities using different utilities using different types of retaining
structure. It also prevent the soil to erode around the area while working.


1. Increase the depth of the cut

2. Saturation or increase in the water content to the soil

3. Hydrostatic or water pressure on ground

4. Weight of the excavated material and the equipment adjacent to the excavation

5. Shock and vibrations for machineries, traffic, or blasting

6. Frost action