Do Geotechnical Failures occur? Can it be prevented?

Written by Gouw Tjie Liong, Ir., M.Eng, ChFC, PhD. Posted in Note and Discussion

Geotechnical failures do happen, either small or large scale, sometimes, even with fatalities.  To prevent it to happen, the following steps must be taken:

  1. Appoint a capable geotechnical engineer (expert) to assess the problem at hand.
  2. Carry out an adequate, proper and systematical soil investigation as pointed by the geotechnical engineer.
  3. Analyze, interpret and derived the geotechnical design parameters based on the the available soil data. In a large construction geological and seismicity of the area must also be assessed.
  4. Asses and understand what type of construction to be built, and also the possible loading imposed to the ground.
  5. Carry out the short term and long term stability and deformation of the planned geotechnical structure.
  6. While building the structures (geotechnical structures), install geotechnical field instrumentation (examples: piezometer, inclinometer, pressure cells, etc). Carry out proper and systematical monitoring based on the installed geotechnical instrumentation. Interpret the data properly.
  7. Re-analyzed the performance of the structure and compare it with the design (prediction) made prior to construction. If necessary make the necessary correction. Admit the error when we, as an engineer, made an error in prediction / calculation and immediately seek a remediation. And if necessary ask for help from a more experience engineer.
  8. In handling a new type of problem which are complex and difficult, it is better to seek for an advice from fellow capable engineers.
  9. Be honest to ourselves and never pretend to be clever on everything.

Jakarta, July 31, 2011


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Gouw Tjie Liong, Ir., M.Eng, ChFC, PhD

Dr. Gouw is a certified Professional Geotechnical Engineer. He has been working in the field of Geotechnical Engineering since 1984. His expertise covering geotechnical investigation, soil instrumentation, deep foundation and excavation for high rise buildings, pile load testing (Static and PDA), pile integrity testing (PIT), sonic logging test, vibration monitoring, slope stability, ground anchors, pumping test, dewatering, micropiles, tunnelling and ground improvement works, e.g. dynamic compaction, vertical drain, vibro-compaction, geosynthetic and grouting. The jobs cover more than 180 projects in Indonesia, Singapore and Srilanka. He has a great passion in the teaching and disseminating of geotechnical engineering knowledge. He serves as lecturer since late 1984. Currently, he serves as Associate Professor at Podomoro University, Jakarta for undergraduate study, and for post graduate students at Universitas Katolik Parahyangan, Bandung, Indonesia. He also conduct regular geotechnical training for engineers. He also chaired the Indonesian Chapter of International Geosynthetics Society since 2006. He has published 80 papers and 22 technical notes.

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