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Geotechnical studies and design are a fundamental component of many of our client's projects. The primary goal of any geotechnical work is to ensure the stability and integrity of structures formed in, on or of geological materials. Our geotechnical services team commissions and undertakes investigations and detailed assessments to achieve this goal. This work minimises any associated short to long term geotechnical risks and frequently adds value to projects.

The geotechnical services provided by ADK range from straightforward desk studies to advanced numerical modelling of ground deformations. We work closely with ADK's site investigation team to define suitable ground investigation and laboratory testing programmes, and we have an extensive range of commercially available software that provides the ability to undertake analyses of:

  • Slope stability;
  • Rockfall risk;
  • Flowslide behaviour following slope failure;
  • Ground deformations resulting from excavation and/or loading;
  • Groundwater response to excavation and/or loading; and
  • Groundwater response to surface infiltration.
Some of the specific fields which are covered by the Geotechnics Technical Discipline are described in more detail below.

Geotechnical Engineering

Our geotechnical services team is able to offer assessment and design solutions in all of the traditional areas of geotechnical engineering. The team works closely with clients or other technical teams within the company to define ground investigation programmes according to the specific project requirements. The information gathered is then used to undertake the analyses to support or develop the design proposals. Assessments are carried out in the following areas:

  • Soil and rock slope stability;
  • Reinforced earth and ground support;
  • Foundations;
  • Retaining walls;
  • Embankments;
  • Remediation design for failed or dangerous slopes;
  • Ground subsidence; and
  • Ground deformation and structure response.
Geotechnical Risk Assessment

ADK has built up considerable experience in projects where the assessment of geotechnical risk is a key consideration. The assessment of risk is frequently required where unfavourable geotechnical conditions already exist (either naturally or as a result of human activity) and where these conditions could result in adverse operational, environmental or health and safety impacts. The risk assessment work is used to help clients define the most cost effective remedial actions required to reduce risk to internationally accepted levels.

This area of our geotechnical work is somewhat different to traditional geotechnical engineering. In assessing risk, an estimation of the probability of an adverse event occurring must be made and this cannot be directly linked to a traditional factor of safety approach often used in design. Instead, a combination of traditional analyses, event tree development and engineering judgement is used to derive such probabilities. Examples of adverse events include mining subsidence beneath a commercial development, the breach of a reservoir embankment and the failure of natural slopes.

The probability estimation work is undertaken in conjunction with an assessment of the consequences of the adverse event. In some cases, analytical modelling can be used to determine the likely consequences of the event (for example, flow slide and flood wave modelling of a failed reservoir). The product of the probability and consequence of the adverse event is then used to define the level of risk present. The exercise is then repeated for a number of scenarios that include various remediation or corrective options, each having an associated cost. The optimum solution can then be derived by comparing costs with risk levels.

Such an approach to Geotechnical Risk Assessment is considered vital for companies where concerns exist in relation to potential liabilities and corporate social responsibility. It is also valuable in commercial property and land valuations and transactions.

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