Before any construction project can be undertaken, the most important set of factors to establish are those related to the ground on which the building will rest. This area of investigation is covered under the discipline of geotechnical engineering. It is, in fact, about the most important field related to any engineering endeavor for rather obvious reasons.

Geotechnical engineering involves a thorough scientific evaluation of the soil. Failure to do a proper analysis can have disastrous consequences. The New Orleans Flood of 2005 was the direct result of incomplete investigation of the soils which were to support the floodwalls enclosing three of the main drainage and navigation canals running through the city. Because those structures ended up resting on loose clay that easily erodes under prolonged hydrological stress, the floodwall sections lacked solid support. Those structures subsequently collapsed when surging water from Lake Pontchartrain running through the canals undermined the floodwall foundation pilings. The result was one of the worst urban disasters in American history.

As the soil goes, so goes the building, it could be said. Geotechnical engineers conduct detailed examinations and evaluations of the ground for building sites. This is accomplished through testing for the load-bearing capacity and stability of the soil down to the maximum depth to which the main support pillars for the foundation are to be sunk.

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Teams from technical investigation firms such as acs engineering perform examinations of the subsurface conditions through drilling, sample testing, and electronic scanning of the proposed building site with ground-penetrating radar. The resulting report will outline in full detail the characteristics of the soil, rock, water table, quality of landfill, potential for landslide, fissures, and anticipated soil erosion. Once the evaluations are completed and a report of the results compiled, recommendations can then be presented to the design engineers and project managers as to what mitigation processes may be required to properly prepare the building site.

Ensuring against the potential for subsidence or collapse potentially saves millions of dollars in property loss and legal liability. Therefore, the work performed by acs services and other such contractors is invaluable. Successful geotechnical analysis is key to the successful erection of any large structure and will guarantee the safety and durability of the completed structure for decades to come.