Subsurface Characterization for Deep Foundations

This technical committee is intended to focus on considerations for site investigation for the design and construction of deep foundations. The formation of the committee is rooted in a need to increase awareness of the importance of complete and competent site investigation in deep foundation practices.

Congratulations to the Subsurface Characterization Committee Geotechnical Tools team on their grant from the DFI Committee Project Fund for the project “Collaborative Contribution of Geotechnical Characterization to the GeoTechTools (GTT) Website!” The goal for the GTT Website is to guide decision making for construction projects by facilitating a systematic approach to projects from conception to completion. This project will compile information for the subsurface conditions parameters, along with typical values and characterization techniques. The project will be a collaborative effort between Subsurface Characterization Committee members, Geo-Institute members, and students at Portland State University. 

Committee Chair

Mary Nodine, P.E.
[email protected]

Mary Nodine is the chair of DFI’s Subsurface Characterization Committee and was a member of the FHWA and MassDOT’s implementation teams for the Every Day Counts A-GaME program. Mary serves on the editorial board of the ASCE Geo-Institute’s publication Geo-Strata, and has contributed to the magazine as the “Geo-Poet” since 2008.

Purpose Statement

  • Increase stakeholder awareness of the necessity to effectively manage ground risks.
  • Promote the value of proper and adequate subsurface exploration and characterization for informed design, improved constructability and bid economy.
  • Promote effective procurement practices for subsurface characterization services.
  • Promote proper and appropriate methods, including innovative technologies when suitable, and recognize appropriate standards for performing subsurface exploration and characterization.
  • Promote adequate construction observation monitoring to determine whether field modifications are necessary during construction.
  • Collaborate with similar organizations to improve the professionalism of subsurface characterization.


Foundation Reuse Task Force

DFI’s Foundation Reuse Task Force is working to promote reuse by leveraging experience among DFI members and collaborating across pertinent committees. Task Force activities include gathering and summarizing project examples that highlight unique applications and significant benefits of reuse, preparing webinars in collaboration with the IT$MONEY series, and hosting a panel session at the DFI annual conference to foster a conversation regarding overcoming the risks associated with reuse.

GBR initiative

Geotechnical baseline reports could be beneficial on a wide range of deep foundation projects, but these documents are widely misunderstood. The goal of this initiative is to raise the awareness and encourage the adoption of required geotechnical baseline reports to help promote timely, safer and more fiscally responsible projects by providing a clearer understanding of the soil conditions.

Geo-Industry Technology Users Groups

These joint industry groups were created in cooperation with FHWA, Geo-Institute, DOTs, DFI and TRB Committee AKG20 to address users’ needs.

Advanced Geotechnical Methods in Exploration (A-GaME)

DFI is excited to partner with FHWA’s A-GaME program.

To learn more about A-GaME and access educational videos, news bulletins and more, visit the A-GaME website.

Or you can delve directly into the webinars, featuring proven exploration methods and practices for enhanced, effective site characterization that reduce project risks, improve quality and accelerate project delivery


This task force highlights how geophysical techniques can add value to investigation programs.


FHWA Geotechnical Engineering Circular No. 5 Geotechnical Site Characterization (technical resource for planning and scoping site investigations, exploratory means and methods, interpretation of properties from laboratory and field measurements, documentation and reporting)

FHWA Geotechnical Engineering Circular No. 14 Assuring Quality in Geotechnical Reporting Documents (guidance for effectively incorporating quality assurance in preparing geotechnical reporting  documents)

GeoConstructability – An Owner’s Guide to Obtaining Essential Geotechnical Information for Construction (documents the type of geotechnical information  that contractors need to estimate, plan and execute foundation projects)