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1. Introduction
2. Need & Scope
3. Stages/Steps involved in Planning
4. Depth of Exploration & Lateral extent of Exploration
5. Methods of Exploration
6. Soil Sampling
7. Field Tests
8. Non-Invasive/ Geophysical Methods
9. Sub soil Investigation Report
• Soil Exploration is a part of Soil Investigation
• Ground investigation refers to the methodology of
determining surface and sub-surface features in
proposed construction area
• Geotechnical engineers also need to evaluate the
sub-surface conditions by taking samples by
boring or by digging exploratory pits. These
activities are called subsurface exploration.
• The extent of exploration depends on the
importance of the structure, the complexity of the
soil conditions
 Determine the geological conditions of Rock and Soil
formation & Stratification soil/rock
 Obtaining Disturbed and Un Disturbed soil samples for
visual Identification & Appropriate laboratory Test
 Determining the nature & depth of bed rock, if and
when encountered
 Performing In-situ field Tests to Assess Soil properties
 Observing drainage conditions from and into the site
 Assessing any special construction problems w.r.t
existing structure near by
 Determining the position of water Table
Planning subgrade investigation and laboratory
programs requires the engineer to be aware of
parameters and properties needed for design and
Steps of Planning :
• Identify Data needs
• Gather & Analyse existing information
• Conduct site visit(Reconnaissance)
• Develop preliminary site model
• Develop a detailed site Investigation program
 3.1 Identify Data Needs :
• Type of Structure
• Future use of structure
• Requirement of local Building codes
• Anticipated loads, spans
• Need for providing dry excavations
• Performance criteria(Like bearing capacity,
• Engineering properties & parameters required
• No.of Tests/Samples needed and their location
 3.2 Gather & Analyse existing Information:
• Aerial Photographs
• Topographical Maps
• Utility Maps
• Historical
• Existing Sub surface Investigation Reports
• Geological Reports and Maps
 3.3 Site Visit / Reconnaissance:
• Geological constraints
• Topographical Conditions
• Surface conditions
• Flood levels/Drainage Issues
• Adjacent property use
• Potential borrow source areas
• GWT & subsoil profile from open cuts/excavations
• Utility locations
• Access Issues

 3.4 Develop Preliminary Site Model:

• Soil & Rock strategraphy
• Potential site Restrictions
• Anticipated ground water level
• Possibility of encountering heterogeneity
3.5 Detailed Site Investigation Program:
• Methods of site investigation/soil exploration
• Method of soil sampling
• Number of location of Borings/ Investigation
• Number of samples & confirmatory samples
• Number and Types of Laboratory Tests
• Number and Types of Field Tests
• Chemical Analysis of soils
• GWT & Quality of G.W.

• Lateral Extent of Exploration (Spacing)

• Vertical Extent of Exploration (Depth)
The approximate required minimum spacing and
depth of explorations should be predetermined.
The estimated Spacing and depths can be
changed during the execution of Exploration,
depending on the subsoil encountered. To
determine the approximate minimum Spacing
and minimum depth of explorations, engineers
may use the following guidelines:

4.1 Depth of Exploration
1. Isolated Spread Footings with clear spacing of Adjacent footings > 4B = 1.5B.
2. Adjacent Footings of Size LxB with clear spacing less than 2B = 1.5L
3. Adjacent Rows of Footings with clear spacing A <2B = 4.5B
4. Adjacent Rows of Footings with clear spacing 2B < A < 4B = 3.0B
5. Adjacent Rows of Footings with clear spacing A >4B = 1.5B

6. End Bearing Pile Group of width B = 1.5B from the bottom of pile tip
7. Friction Pile Group of width B = 1.5B from lower third point
8. Excavations of Depth D = 1.5D
9. Gravity Dam of Height H = 2.0H
10. Road Cut of Bottom Width B = 1.0B
11. Fills of height H = 2.0m or 1.0H whichever is higher
12. Sometimes subsoil conditions are such that the foundation load may have to be
transmitted to the bedrock. The minimum depth of core boring into the bedrock
is about 3m. If the bedrock is irregular or weathered, the core borings may have to
be extended to greater depths.

4.1Depth of Exploration
D1 = Depth at which  = 0.1q (q = Foundation Contact Pressure)
D2 = Depth at which  = 0.05‘
Depth of Exploratin = Smaller of D1 and D2

Determination of the minimum depth of boring

4.1 Depth of Exploration

Depth of Boring

4.1 Depth of Exploration

For hospitals and office buildings, the following rule

could be use to determine boring depth

4.2 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 condition. If various soil strata are
more or less uniform and predictable, the
number of boreholes can be reduced.

Spacing Boring

Approximate Spacing of Boreholes

Sub surface explorations are Three types,
• Direct Methods of Sub-Surface Exploration (Detailed Exploration)
• Semi-Direct Methods of Sub-Surface Exploration (Detailed cum Preliminary
• Indirect Methods of Sub-Surface Exploration (Preliminary Exploration)

Preliminary Exploration :
When reconnaissance is not possible it is essential to carry out preliminary
investigation to decide the method of approach of investigation. During
preliminary investigation, geophysical methods and tests with cone
penetrometers and sounding rods are useful guides.
Detailed Exploration :
The object of detailed exploration is to determine shear strength and
compressibility of all types of soils, density, density index, natural moisture
content and permeability.
5.1 Direct Method of Exploration

The earliest method of obtaining a test hole was to

excavate a test pit using a pick and shovel.
Because of economics, the current procedure is to
use power-excavation equipment such as a
backhoe to excavate the pit and then to use hand
tools to remove a block sample or shape the site
for in situ testing. This is the best method at
present for obtaining quality undisturbed samples
or samples for testing at other than vertical


5.1 Direct Methods of Sub-Surface Exploration

• Open Trial Pits : Depths upto 3.0m to 6.0m with

1.2m x 1.2m at bottom. For greater depths lateral
supports are bracing of the excavations will be
• Open Trenches: Same as pits but for Slopes
• Drifts : Horizontal Tunnels in the hill side (1.5m to
2.0m height
• Adits : Same as Drifts but with Arch Roof in case of
Soft Rock
• Shafts : Large Size Vertical Holes (B or D = 2.4m) If
Necessary Sides are Suported
5.2 Semi-Direct Methods of Sub-Surface
• Boring : Making or drilling bore holes in to the ground
with a view to obtaining soils or rock samples from
specified or known depths is called Boring
• The common methods of advanancing Bore holes are;
 Auger boring
 Wash boring,
 Percussion drilling and
 Rotary drilling

 5.2.1 Auger Boring

• Soil auger is a device that is useful for advancing a bore
hole into the ground
• Augers may be hand operated or power driven for
former are used for relatively small depths(< 3m to 5m
depth) while the latter used for greater depth up to 60m
to 70m depth in case of continuous flight augers.
• The soil augers is advanced by rotating it while pressing
in to the soil
• As soon as the Auger gets filled with soil, it is taken out
and the soil sample collected.
• The soil samples obtained from this type of borings are
highly disturbed
• Auger borings are used in cohesive and other soft soils
above water table.
• Hand augers are used for depths=6m.
• Mechanically operated are used for greater depths.
• Samples recovered from the soil brought up by augers
are badly disturbed and are useful for identification
purposes only.
• Auger boring is for highway explorations at shallow
depths and for exploring borrow pits.
• Shell is used when auger boring becomes difficult
Hand operated

Auger boring Power Driven


 5.2.2 Wash Boring :
• Wash boring is commonly used for exploration below the
ground water table for which auger boring is not suitable
• Wash boring is very convenient method provided the soil is
sand, silt or clay except those mixed with gravel and boulders .
• A casing pipe is driven in to the soil with a drop weight.
• A hollow drill bit is screwed to a hollow drill rod connected to a
rope passing over a pulley and supported by a tripod.
• Water jet under pressure is forced through the rod and bit in to
the hole. This loosens the soil at the lower end and forces the
soil water suspension upwards along the angular surface
between rod and side of the hole.
• When an undisturbed sample is required at a particular depth,
the boring is stopped, and the chopping bit is replaced by a
sampler. The sample is pushed into the soil at the bottom of the
hole and the sample is withdrawn.
Wash Boring
2. Wash Boring.

Drill Bit

Tricone drill bit

 5.2.3Percussion drilling :
• A heavy drill bit is suspended from a drill rod or a cable
and is driven by repeated below.
• Water is added to facilitate the breaking of stiff soil or
• Grinding the soil by repeated lifting and dropping of
heavy chisels or drilling bits.
• Water is added to form slurry of cuttings.
• Slurry removed by bailers or pumps.
• In general, a machine used to drill holes is called a drill rig
(generally power driven, but may be hand driven).
• A winch is provided to raise and lower the drilling tools into
the hole.
• The method cannot be used in loose sand and is slow in
plastic clay.
 5.2.4 Rotary Boring :
• In the rotary drilling method a cutter bit or a core barrel with a
coring bit attached to the end of a string of drill rods is rotated by a
power rig.
• Drilling fluid or bentonite slurry is forced under pressure through
the drill rod and it comes up bringing the cutting to the surface
• Even rock cores may b obtained by using suitable diamond drill
• When boring is over in soil, the drilling bit is removed and
replaced by a sampler
Rotary Boring
5.3 Indirect Methods of Sub-Surface Exploration

• In these methods depths to the principal strata are

established, based on some physical properties of the
material and measurements are made on ground surface.
• It consists of Geophysical and Sounding methods.
 Geophysical Method :
• This method involves the technique of determining
underground materials by measuring some physical
property of material.
Two types of geo physical investigations have been found,
I. Electrical Resistivity Method
II. Seismic Refraction Method
Electrical resistivity method: -
Seismic method.
5.2 Sounding Methods :
• Soil sounding or probing consists in forcing a rod, a
rod enclosed in a sleeve pipe or a cone or a sample in
to the soil and observing the penetration or
withdrawal resistance.
• Variation in this resistance indicates the existence of
different soil strata, and the numerical values of the
resistance permit an estimate of some of the physical
properties of strata.
• 6.1 Types of Samples : Samples of soil taken out of
natural deposits for testing may be classified as :
I. Undisturbed samples : Composition, Structure,
Sequence of Stratification, Natural Moisture Content,
Stress Conditions, In-situ density, and Engineering
Properties are to be preserved. Useful for both Index
Properties and Engineering Properties.
II. Disturbed but Representative Samples : Composition
and/or NMC preserved. Useful for Index Properties.
III. Disturbed but Nonrepresentative Samples : Nothing
preserved. Little use. Only for understanding possible
change in stratification.
6.2 Methods of Sampling
• Hand Samples : DR or DNR (In soils from Trial Pits)
• Auger Samples : DR or DNR (In soils from Auger Boring)
• Shell Samples : DR or DNR (In soils from Auger and Shell Boring)
• Wash Samples : DNR (In soils from Wash/Rotary Boring)
• Hand Carved/Chunk Samples: UD (In soils from Trial Pits)
• Tube Samples : UD (In Soils From Bore Holes/Trial Pits)
• Core Samples : UD ( In Rocks from Bore Holes)
• 6.3 Tube Samplers/Sampling Tools:
• Samples collected by penetrating Cylindrical
Tubes/Samplers into the soil
• Upon forcing into the soil, the sampling tube shall
cause as little displacement, remolding, and
disturbance as possible.
• Methods of Forcing samplers into soil are
 Hammering (Not so good Quality)
 Slow Jacking (Not so good Quality)
 Flash Pushing (Best Quality)
 Single Blow Shooting (best Quality)
6.4.1(A) Area ratio:- The area ratio is defined as,

Area ratio

where, D1 = inner diameter of cutting edge.

D2 = outer diameter of cutting edge.

For Good Quality Undisturbed Samples Area Ratio should be as

low as possible but consistent with the strength requirements of
he sampling tube
Ar < 20 % for Stiff formations
< 10% for Soft sensitive Clays
6.4.1(B). Inside clearance :- The inside is defined

Where, D3 = inner diameter of the sampling tube

Allows for
•Elastic Expansion of soil as it enters Tube
•Reduces frictional drag between sample and
Tube wall
•Helps to retain the core
•For an undisturbed sample, the inside
clearance should be between 1.0 and 3.0
6.4.1( C ). Outside clearance :- is defined as

where, D4 = outer diameter of the sampling tube.

Outside clearance
• Reduces driving Force
• Facilitates the withdrwal of Sample from ground
• should be as small as possible (0 to 2 percent)
6.4.2. Inside Wall friction : The friction and the
inside wall cause disturbance of the sample.
It can be reduced by

• Suitable inside Clearance.

• Smooth finish to the inside surface of sampler
• Smearing the inside surface with oil before
use to reduce friction
6.4.3. Non-Return Valve:

• It is a large Orifice to allow air to and water to

escape quickly and easily when driving the sampler
• It helps sample retention during withdrawal.
6.4.4. Recovery Ratio:
• Given by Rr = Length of Sample in Tube/ Depth of penetration of Tube
• Rr should preferably between 96% to 98%
• Rr < 100 % implies soil is compressed
• Rr > 100% implies soil is expanded
Soil Samplers are classified as four types
•Open-Drive Sampler
•Piston Sampler
•Rotary Samplers
•Other Samplers
• Samplers are pushed or driven into soil with their lower
ends open
• Following are the types of open drive samplers
. (i) Thick Walled Samplers
(Solid Tube/Split Spoon with or without liners)
(ii) Thin Walled Samplers Split Spoon Sampler
• A drive shoe attached to the lower end serves as the cutting
edge. A sample head may be screwed at the upper end of split
• The standard size of the spoon sampler is of 35mm internal
and 50.8mmexternal diameter (IS 2131-1986).
• Used only in the standard penetration test.
• May be provided with a liner which is a thin ,metal or plastic
tube fitted within the split spoon in which case it is called as a
composite sampler.
• The sampler is lowered to the bottom of the bore hole by
attaching it to the drill rod. The sampler is then driven by
forcing it into the soil by blows from a hammer.
• The purpose of the liner is to protect the sample during
handling, shipping and storage.
SPLIT SPOON SAMPLER Thin Walled Samplers
• Cold Drawn Seamle3ss Tubes made out of Brass, Aluminium,
or any other suitable material
• Area Ratio usually below 15%
• Used for UD Sampling and can be without seperate Shoe
• Cannot be used if soil is too hard or Gravelly or too soft/too
weak to be retained in sampler
• IS: 2132-1972 laid down requirements for these Samplers
Inside Diameter mm 38 70 100

Out side Diameter mm 40 74 106

MinimumEffective Length mm 300 450 450

Artea Ratio % 10.9 11.8 12.4

6.5. 2 Piston Sampler
• During Driving and up to the start of the sampling , the bottom
of the piston is maintained flush with the sampler
• At the [proposed sampling depth , the piston is fixed in
relation to the ground and sampler cylinder is forced into the
soil independently
• As the sampler cylinder slides past the tight fitting piston
during sampling, a negative pore pressure develops above the
sample which holds back the sample during withdrawl
• Used for sampling sampling saturated sands and other soft
and wet soils which can not be sampled by Open Drive
6.5.3 Rotary Samplers
• Also known as Core Barrel
• It is a Double Walled Tube Sampler
• Outer tube or rotating Barrel is provided with a
cutting bit. It cuts an annular ring when barrel is
• The inner tube which is stationary slides over the
cylindrical sample cut by the outer rotating barrel
• Te sample is collected in the inner liner.

Rock coring

ROCK SAMPLING - Definition

Rock Core Drilling

• Done with either tungsten

carbide or diamond core
• Use a double or triple tube
core barrel when sampling
weathered or fractured
• Used to determine Rock
Quality Designation
core barrel 54
Rock Quality Designation RQD

Rock Quality Designation
Rock Quality Designation (RQD) is defined as the percentage of rock
cores that have length equal or greater than 10 cm over the total drill

Example on Core Recovery & RQD

• Core run of 150 cm

• Total core recovery =
125 cm
• Core recovery ratio =
125/150 = 83%
• On modified basis, 95
cm are counted
RQD = 95/150=63 %

6.5.4 Scraper Bucket Sampler
•A scraper bucket sampler consists of a
driving point which is attached to its
bottom end. There is a vertical slit in
the upper portion of the sampler. As
the sampler is rotated, the scrapings of
the soil enter the sampler through the

•When the sampler is filled with the

scrapings, it is lifted. Although the
sample is quite disturbed, it is still

•A scraper bucket sampler can also be

used for obtaining the samples of
cohesionless soils below the water
1. Standard Penetration Test(SPT)
2. Static Cone Penetration Test(SCPT)
3. Dynamic cone Penetration Test(DCPT)
4. Vane Shear Test
5. Pressure Meter Test(PMT)
6. Deflacto Meter Test (DMT)
7. Plate Load Test
8. Ground Water Table Observations

7.1 Standard Penetration Test (SPT)
•The standard penetration test is the most commonly used in-
situ test, especially for cohesionless soils which cannot be
easily sampled.
•As per IS 2131-1981 gives the standard procedure carrying out
the test is started below
•A bore hole is advanced to the required depth and the bottom
is cleaned
•The split spoon sampler is driven in to the soil for a distance
450mm by blows of a drop hammer of 65kgs falling vertically
and freely from a height of 750mm.
•The number of blows required to penetrate every 150mm is
recorded while driving the sample.
• The number of blows required for the last 300mm penetration
is added together and recorded as N value at particular depth
• The test is extremely useful for determining the relative
density and the angle of shearing resistance of cohesionless
• The split spoon sampler is withdrawn and is detached from the
drill rod, The split barrel is disconnected from the cutting shoe
• It can also be used to determine the unconfined compressive
strength of cohesive soils.
• > 50 Blows for 150mm penetration
• > 100 Blows for 300mm penetration
• No advance for 10 Blows
•Dilatancy Correction: - Silty fine sands below the water table
develop pore pressure which is not easily dissipated. The pore
pressure increases the resistance of the soil and hence the
penetration number (N).
Terzaghi and Peck (1967) recommend the following correction
in the case of silty fine sands when the observed value of N
exceeds 15. The corrected penetration number,
Where NR is the recorded value, and NC is the corrected value.


•Overburden pressure Correction: - In granular soils, the

overburden pressure affects the penetration resistance.
Gibbs and Holtz (1957) recommend the use of the
following equation for dry or moist clean sand.
…….. (i)

where , NR = observed N-value, Nc

=corrected N-value,

= effective overburden pressure (kN/m2).

Equation (i) is applicable for

Overburden Correction Diagram.

7.2 Cone Penetration Tests
• Cone penetration test is classified as two types
i) Dynamic cone penetration test(DCPT –No BH)
ii) Static cone penetration test (SCPT in BH)
7.2 Static Cone Penetration Test
• The static cone penetration test which is as Dutch
cone test has been standardized by IS 4968 part-3
1976 method for sub surface sounding for soils
part-3 static cone penetration test .
• The equipment consists of a steel cone, a friction
jacket, mantle tube, a driving mechanism and
measuring equipment.
• The cone have an apex angle of 60 degrees and
base cross sectional area of 10cm2 .
Cone Penetration Test (CPT)
Cone Penetration Test (CPT)

Cone Penetration Test (CPT)

Cone Penetration Test (CPT)

7.3 Dynamic Cone Penetration Test
• The equipment consists of a cone, driving rods, driving
head, lifting equipment and hammer.
• The hammer used for driving the cone shell be of mild
steel or cast – iron with a base of mild steel and the
weight of the hammer shall be 65kg.
• The cone shall be driven in to the soil by allowing the
hammer to fall through 750mm each time.
• Number of blows for every 100mmpenetration of cone
shall be recorded. Blows required for 300mm
penetration is noted as the dynamic cone resistance.
• The process shall be repeated till the cone is driven to
the required depth.
7.4 Vane shear Test
• The vane shear test has been show to be prominent non-emperical
method of measuring the shear strength of soft clay insitu at all
depth from surface to atleast 30m.
• The vane shear test consists of four bladed vane.
• The height of vane shall be twice the overall diameter.
• The diameter of vane should be 37.5, 50, 65, 75, 100mm.
• The blades shall be as thin as possible consistent with strength
• The four bladed vane attached to the end of rod and push in to the
• The measuring of maximum torque necessary to cause rotation.
• The torque applicator should be capable of controlling speed at the
rate of 0.1 degree per second.
7.5 The Plate Load Test (PLT)

The Plate Load Test (PLT)

The Plate Load Test (PLT)

Geotechnical Design Reports
• At the end of all subsoil exploration programs, the soil and/or
rock specimens collected from the field are subjected to visual
observation and appropriate laboratory testing. After the
compilation of all of the required information, a soil
exploration report is prepared for the use of the design office
and for reference during future construction work. Although
the details and sequence of information in the report may
vary to some degree is depending on the structure under
consideration and the person compiling the report.

Subsoil Exploration Report
1. A description of the scope of the investigation
2. A description of the proposed structure for which the subsoil exploration has been
3. A description of the location of the site, including any structures nearby, drainage
conditions, the nature of vegetation on the site and surrounding it, and any other
features unique to the site
4. A description of the geological setting of the site
5. Details of the field exploration—that is, number of borings, depths of borings, types
of borings involved, and so on
6. A general description of the subsoil conditions, as determined from soil specimens
and from related laboratory tests, standard penetration resistance and cone
penetration resistance, and soon
7. A description of the water-table conditions
8. Re commendations regarding the foundation, including the type of foundation
recommended, the allowable hearing pressure, and any special construction
procedure that may he needed; alternative foundation design procedures should
also be discussed in this portion of the report
9. Conclusions and limitations of the investigations
Subsoil Exploration Report
The following graphical presentations should he
attached to the report:
1. A site location map
2. A plan view of the location of the borings with
respect to the proposed structures and those nearby
3. Boring logs
4. Laboratory test results
5. Other special graphical presentations

Example Table
of Contents for
a Geotechnical
(Data) Report

A report is the final document of the whole exercise of soil exploration.
A good report should normally comprise the following:
1. A general description of the nature of the project and its importance.
2. A general description of the topographical features and hydraulic conditions of
the site.
3. A brief description of the various field and laboratory tests carried out.
4. Analysis and discussion of the test results
5. Recommendations
6. Calculations for determining safe bearing pressures, pile loads, etc.
7. Tables containing bore logs, and other field and laboratory test results
8. Drawings which include an index plan, a site-plan, test results plotted in the
form of charts
and graphs, soil profiles, etc.