Geophysical Methods For Site Characterization For Marine Foundations

Sylwester, Richard E.
Organization: Deep Foundations Institute
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2013
Evaluating surface and subsurface conditions for marine foundations (bridges, causeways, terminals, etc.) is often done with a limited amount of data. Subsurface information for these projects is primarily acquired using traditional methods, such as boreholes, test pits or divers, which tend to be expensive and limited in the area of coverage. A number of geophysical methods, including precision bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and seismic reflection or subbottom profiling are extremely cost-effective and obtain significantly more data than can be acquired using traditional intrusive methods. These geophysical methods provide detailed surface images and continuous profiles of the subsurface stratigraphy. This information can be invaluable for selecting the best location for geotechnical boreholes and to map potential geohazards such as submarine slides and filled or open scour holes. Offshore investigations conducted for a proposed highway bridge (Knik Arm Bridge, Cook Inlet, AK), the retrofit of two existing bridge (Antioch and Dumbarton Bridges, CA) and a proposed cruise ship terminal (Ketchikan, AK) used a combination of geophysical methods to map water depth, detect and map debris on the seabed, map the thickness of unconsolidated sediment, determine the depth to bedrock and identify potential geohazards such as scour holes. The results of the geophysical investigations will be used to select locations for obtaining geotechnical borings, to extrapolate geologic information between existing or proposed boreholes, evaluate the potential depth of scour and design a pile support pier. Geotechnical engineers, offshore contractors and bridge designers are realizing the importance of the early use of offshore geophysics for (i) site characterization, (ii) to reduce the uncertainty of geotechnical conditions thus avoiding designs that may be overly conservative and thus more expensive and (iii) to assist in selecting locations for geotechnical borings.
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