Integrity Testing - Friend Or Foe?

Hertlein, Bernard H.
Organization: Deep Foundations Institute
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1998
Transportation system structures have come under very close scrutiny in the last couple of years, largely due to the damaging effects of disasters, both natural and man-made. In the Pacific northwest and California, earthquake risk is a major concern. In the central and eastern states barge impacts on bridge piers and docks are a big worry. In all cases of bridges over water and waterside structures, scour is a primary concern. Some of the results of this scrutiny have been changes in design and construction methods, and the introduction of more testing to supplement field inspection during construction, and throughout the service life of the structure. Future construction of bridges and docks will almost certainly see a continuing growth in these practices. Where foundations are concerned, particularly for bridges and waterside structures, many state and local authorities have started specifying drilled shafts rather than driven piles. Where the shafts must be constructed under water or slurry, visual inspection of most of the work is impossible, and one of several different Nondestructive Tests (NDT) is often specified. Contractors' experiences with these methods have varied considerably, and there is a great deal of controversy in the deep foundation industry over the reliability of NDT methods for assessing the integrity of foundation shafts or piles. The author has had more than 15 years of practice with the various NDT methods for deep foundations, on projects all over the US, particularly foundations for bridges and dock structures, and has developed an understanding of the "NDT controversy" as it has become known. In particular, experiences in the Pacific Northwest, California, and Alabama have illustrated the reasons for the controversy. This paper reviews these experiences, and suggests some steps that owners and contractors can take to reduce the risk of inconclusive or downright inaccurate test results.
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