Publication Abstract




Proceedings of the 45th Annual Conference on Deep Foundations, 2020 - ONLINE , (DFI)

Geophysical Applications for Highway Infrastructure, a Retrospective
William P. Owen, PGP, PG, CEG, William M. Dalrymple, PGP, Benjamin S. Rivers, PE

For the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), geophysical applications have played an important role as part of a successful multidisciplinary approach to subsurface characterization for the design of high value structures. Since at least the 1950's, geophysical methods have been deployed to guide the exploration drilling program and to maximize the return on drilling investment by increasing the amount of data obtained from test borings. Geophysical applications saw increased use beginning in the 1990's, during the seismic retrofit of the state's toll bridges and the replacement of the west span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Over the intervening years, increases in computing power and increasingly sophisticated commercial off-the-shelf software applications have allowed Caltrans to leverage advancements and perform geophysical investigations of increasing complexity and scale. Ultimately, the goal of these efforts is to maximize return on investment, whereby increased investigation costs at the design phase are offset by reduced uncertainty regarding subsurface conditions, leading to reduced cost overruns related to change orders and unforeseen site conditions during construction. These objectives are consistent with the recent Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative to incorporate Advanced Geotechnical Methods in Exploration (A-GaME) into routine engineering practice. Caltrans is an implementation partner of the A-GaME initiative, and Caltrans' practices represent a model toward the institutionalized geophysical site characterization practices for other transportation organizations. The authors provide a retrospective on 70 years of experience with geophysical applications for transportation infrastructure, with examples and observations on potential future direction of the industry.


 article #3676; publication #1073 (AM-2020)