Geotechnical Engineering in the 21st Century

By on February 15, 2019

Do you have the latest smart phone? Have you checked out the new crowd-sourcing app or trending Twitter hashtag? Change is fast-paced these days. Contrast that for a moment with geotechnical engineering.  For more than one hundred years, geotechnical site characterization has followed a standard process with little change. When we want to know about the subsurface, we drill soil borings, collect soil samples while performing the standard penetration test (SPT), perform laboratory tests, and develop a report that tells what we did and what we found. After all, what could change with that tried and proven approach?

It is time for geotechnical engineers join the pace of technological change. If technology can tell our car when it is safe to change lanes, or even change lanes for us, perhaps we should start to think about how it can change how we go about geotechnical characterization.

Creating a Powerful Resource with Big Data

Terracon is leading the way in changing the traditional approach to geotechnical engineering with the power of technology. There is a wealth of information about the subsurface geology, hydrogeology and geotechnical characteristics on the internet. Governmental agencies are sharing what they know about the subsurface. All it takes is the time to look and the discovery can be amazing. It doesn’t stop there. Geotechnical engineers are starting to understand the power of their big data. Terracon has more than two million soil boring logs in just about every geologic formation across the USA, and is capturing at least 100,000 more each year. We pull them out of long-term storage and put them into our geographic information system (GIS) retrieval platform. What used to take hours to find, now takes just seconds. All of this data, combined with the information that is shared by government agencies are powerful tools when we embark on a geotechnical characterization.

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About Dede Hance