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Edited by
Vedprakash C. Marlapalle
E Failure
The purpose of a soil investigation program
1. Selection of the type and the depth of foundation suitable
for a given structure.
2. Evaluation of the load-bearing capacity of the foundation.
3. Estimation of the probable settlement of a structure.
4. Determination of potential foundation problems (for
example, expansive soil, collapsible soil, sanitary landfill,
and so on).
5. Establishment of ground water table.
6. Prediction of lateral earth pressure for structures like
retaining walls, sheet pile bulkheads, and braced cuts.
7. Establishment of construction methods for changing subsoil
8. To investigate the safety of the existing structures and to
suggest the remedial measure.
Stages of subsurface exploration program

1. Reconnaissance : it is the first step of the of the surface

exploration of the programme. It includes visit to the site ,
study the maps and relevant record. It helps in deciding
future programme of site investigation, scope of work ,
method of exploration to be adopted.
Study site history if previously used as quarry, agricultural
land, industrial unit, etc.

2. Preliminary exploration: aim of preliminary exploration is

to determine the depth, thickness, extend and composition of
each soil stratum at the site. The depth o the hard rock and
ground water table is also determined.
3. Detailed Explorations : it includes an
extensive boring programme, sampling and
testing of sample in a laboratory. Filed test
such as vane shear test, plate load test and
permeability test are conducted to determine
the properties of the soils in natural state.
Depth of Exploration

Depth of exploration required at a particular site depends upon

the degree of variation of the subsurface data in the horizontal
and vertical directions. It is not possible to fix the number ,
disposition and depth of borings without making a few
preliminary borings at the site.
The depth of exploration is governed by the depth of the
influence zone. The depth upto which the stress increment due
to superimposed loads can produce significant settlement and
shear stresses is knows as the significant depth. The depth of
exploration should be at least equal to the significant depth.
The significant depth is generally taken as the depth at which
the vertical stress is 20% of the load intensity.
Depth of Exploration
Square footing= 1.5 times the width of the square
Strip footing = 1.5 times the width of the strip footing
In case of pile foundation the
depth o exploration below the tip
of bearing piles is kept at least 1.5
times the width of the pile group.
However, in the case of friction
piles the depth of the exploration
is taken 1.5 times the width of the
pile group measured from the
lower third point.
When foundation are taken up to
rock , it should be ensure that
large boulders are not mistaken as
bed rock.
For hospitals and office buildings, the following rule could be use to
determine boring depth
Spacing Boring
There are no hard and fast rules for the spacing of the boreholes. The
following table gives some general guidelines for borehole spacing. These
spacing can be increased or decreased, depending on the subsoil
Approximate Spacing of Boreholes
Methods of soil Exploration

Exploration methods

Direct Methods Semi Direct In Direct Methods

Borings Sounding or
Test pits, Trial Auger penetration
pits, Trenches Auger and shell Tests and
Wash Boring Geophysical
Percussion drilling methods
Rotary Drilling
Test pits
Depth upto 3m
Uneconomical at greater depths.
Supports are required at greater depths. Especially in
case of weak strata
Problems with GWT and the same should be lowered
Open type Exploration
Soils are investigated in natural condition
Soil samples are collected for determining strength
and Engineering properties
Excavated test pit
Drilling a hole into the soil strata upto specified
depth is known as boring

1. Auger boring
2. Core boring
3. Wash boring
4. Percussion drilling
5. Rotary drilling
Auger Boring
Drilling is made using a device called Soil Auger
Power driven (upto 3 to 5m) and Hand operated.
Advancement is made by drilling the auger by simultaneous
rotating and pressing it into the soil
Dry and unsupported bore holes
When the auger gets filled with soil same, it is taken out and
the soil sample collected.
It is particularly useful for subsurface investigations of
highway, railway and airfield where the depth of
exploration is small.
Auger boring can not be used when there are large boulder
present in the soil profile.
Soil augers
Core Boring
Core boring is method is used for drilling holes and
obtaining rock cores.
As the drilling is rotated , the bit cut an annular hole around
an intact core.
The core is then removed from its bottom and is retained by
a core lifter and brought to the ground surface.
Water is pumped continuously in to the drilling rod to keep
the drilling bit cool and to carry the disintegrated material to
the ground surface.
The core drilling ma be done using either a diamond
studded bit or a cutting edge. The diamond drilling is
superior to the other type o drilling , but it costlier.
Wash Boring
Initially, the hole is advanced for a short depth by using an
Then a casing pipe is pushed in and driven with a drop
weight. The driving may be with the aid of power.
Water jet under pressure is forced through the rod and the bit
into the hole.
This loosens the soil at the lower end and forces the soil-water
suspension upwards along the annular surface between the rod
and the side of the hole.
This suspension is collected in a settling tank.
Soil particles are allowed to settle down and water is allowed
to overflow into a sump which is then recalculated
Very disturbed sample is obtained.
whenever a soil sample is required, the chopping bit is to be
replaced by a sampler.
The change of the rate of progress and change of colour of
wash water indicate changes in soil strata.
Wash boring
Percussion Drilling
This method is used for making holes in rocks, boulders
and other hard strata.
In this method heavy chisel is lifted & dropped.
Sample will be collected with the help of bailer at
regular interval.
This drilling may required casing.
This is particularly used in drilling holes in boulder.
The formation gets badly disturbed by impact at the
Rotary Drilling
A drill bit, fixed to the lower end of a drill rod, is rotated by
power while being kept in firm contact with the hole.
Drilling rod is rotated , the cutting bit shears off chips of the
material penetrated.
Drilling fluid or bentonite slurry is used under pressure
which brings up the cuttings to the surface.
Drilling fluid also cool down the drilling bit, in case of an
uncased hole drilling fluid also support the walls of the
When soil sample is required to be taken the drilling rod is
raised and the drilling bit is replaced by a sampler.
Two types of soil samples can be obtained during sampling
disturbed and undisturbed.
The most important engineering properties required for
foundation design are strength, compressibility, and
permeability. Reasonably good estimates of these properties
for cohesive soils can be made by laboratory tests on
undisturbed samples which can be obtained with moderate
It is nearly impossible to obtain a truly undisturbed sample
of soil; so in general usage the term "undisturbed" means a
sample where some precautions have been taken to
minimize disturbance or remolding effects. In this context,
the quality of an "undisturbed" sample varies widely
between soil laboratories.

This test extremely useful for determine the relative density

, angle of shearing resistance and unconfined compressive
strength of cohesive soil.
this test is conducted with the help of split-spoon sampler.
When bore hole has been drilled to the desired depth, the
sampler is lowered at the bottom. Drop hammer of 63.5 kg
mass falling through a height of 750mm at the rate of 30
blows per minute.
The number of hammer blow required to drive 150mm of
the sample is counted. The sample is further driven by
150mm and number of blow recorded.
The number of blow recorded for first 150mm is discarded.
If the number of blow for 150mm drive exceeds 50, it is
taken as refusal and test is discontinued.

water table develop pore pressure which is not easily

dissipated. Pore pressure increases the resistance of
the soil thus, Penetration Number (N) also increases
This correction is applied when observed value of N
exceeds 15
Terzaghi and Peck (1967) recommended the
following correction-

In granular soils, overburden pressure affects the
penetration resistance
If two soils, having same relative density but
different confining pressures are tested, the one
with a higher confining pressure gives a higher
penetration number as the confining pressure in
cohesion less soils increases with the depth, the
penetration number for soils at shallow depths is
underestimated and that at greater depths is
Relative Density

SPT N-Value Relative Density

0-4 Very loose

4-10 Loose
10-30 Medium
30-50 Dense
Over 50 Very dense
Unconfined Compressive Strength Of Cohesive Soils
qu (kN/m2)

Very Soft Medium Stiff Very Stiff Hard


SPT N-value <2 2-4 4-8 8-15 15-30 >30

qu <25 25-50 50-100 100-200 200-400 >400

This method is also used to skin friction values
which is used to determine the length of the piles
The cone is pushed only by thrust and not by
In order to find out the cone resistance , the cone
alone is pushed
Later the cone and sleeve is pushed together to
find out the combined frictional and point
resistance of the cone.
Hydraulic gauges are used for measuring pressure
Cone used for SCPT
Typical Test Set up for SCPT
Boring Logs

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Dr. K.R. Arora Soil Mechanics & Foundation Engineering
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