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Geotechnical laboratory testing for ground investigation and ground engineering projects

Event organised by ICE

20 March 2024

This event has now ended

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The event will talk about how and why testing is carried out and what type of tests are carried out, for example laboratory tests are performed on samples of soil, rock, and water for geotechnical purposes as part of most ground investigation and ground engineering projects. The reasons for conducting laboratory testing, the quantity, type and frequency of testing required depend upon the technical objectives to be met.

Geotechnical laboratory tests may be completed to measure parameters such as strength, compressibility, particle size distribution or water content. The test results and measured parameters may be used to complement field observations and to inform or validate geotechnical design. Where site won or imported soils or soil-like materials are to be used in earthworks laboratory testing may be conducted to assess their composition and performance, and to categorise them for re-use.

Samples for laboratory testing may be obtained as part of ground investigations completed prior to, during or post- construction, collected from material stockpiles or other sources, or in the case of water samples taken from site monitoring apparatus such as groundwater monitoring standpipes.

Tests are completed in accordance with British Standards such as the BS EN ISO 17892 and BS 1377 series and other recognised national and international publications. The UK Specification for ground investigation is often used as the basis for specifying project testing requirements.

The quality and mass or volume of a sample required commonly depends upon both the type of test and the type of material to be assessed. Some geotechnical tests may require as little as a few hundred grams of material whilst certain tests on soils containing larger particles may require tens of kilograms of material. The methods of handling, transport and storage of samples can also be of great significance.