Geotechnical engineering is a special type of engineering that relates to the earth’s behavior and materials. Though it is a branch of civil engineering, it is important to multiple activities in construction that are constantly taking place on the surface and underground. This may be a range of activities that include: mining, drilling, and many more. Geotechnical engineering often overlaps with other engineering fields but differs from engineering geology in that it focuses more on engineering rather than geology. The engineers who major in this type of engineering have several vital functions, which make their services in engineering invaluable.
Why Geotechnical Engineering is Important
The most important reason for this type of engineering is the responsibility of engineers in this particular field. It is up to professional geotechnical engineers to evaluate subsurface, materials, and conditions using rock and soil mechanics principles. It is advisable to have a geotechnical engineer present before embarking on any project mainly because of their ability to consult on a construction project and make necessary recommendations.
This type of engineering is vital for successful construction, mainly because it informs the relevant authorities of pre-existing water tables and flood plains, which determines the viability of the construction site. Depending on the report made by the geotechnical engineers after site assessment, other engineers who are involved can evaluate their original plans and design and see whether it is suitable for that site.
Suppose people on the ground are unaware of the conditions or have knowledge of potential risk. In that case, geotechnical engineers can offer a logical solution that does not necessarily require the site to be vacated. Through thorough analysis, geotechnical engineers can inform the engineering design process on making the ground conditions safer and more effective for construction.
A thorough assessment is recommended during every construction project to evaluate key factors such as ground stability, slopes, soil deposits, potential risks, and contamination. All this is done to help determine what type of foundation is required and the material that should be used. If construction is done on an area frequently threatened by earthquakes, landslides, and other hazards, having geotechnical engineers conduct a survey may help you improve your construction design.
Fields That Need Geotechnical Engineering
This type of engineering is also used in ocean and coastal engineering, where most construction projects involve; jetties, piers, coastal defenses, and marinas. It also plays a role in informing the construction of anchor systems, foundations, and offshore structures, including oil rig platforms. Though not common, geotechnical engineers are also involved in embankments such as channels, tunnels, irrigation systems, reservoirs, and many more. Before starting any project, it is vital to have a geotechnical engineer for successful and safe construction.