Ground Improvement Techniques



Jeffrey R. Hill, PE, senior engineer, Hayward Baker Inc., St Louis, Missouri, United States of America


Port facilities see an increase in demand on nearly a daily basis. This demand is fuelled by the constantly changing role of international shipping in the global economy. For example, new shale oil plays and tar sands in North America may lead to the export of energy from the US; ten years ago the idea of energy exports from the US was unimaginable. Another change in global shipping is the increase in use of intermodal transport. This article discusses a variety of ground improvement and specialty foundation solutions that can support bulkheads, heavy storage warehouses, grain silos, large-diameter tanks or any other port structure. These solutions are designed to efficiently provide a foundation-related maintenance-free operation for the design life of the structure, and are well-suited to the poor ground conditions often associated with port and shipping facilities.

Foundation solutions for difficult ground conditions

Some of the worst soil conditions are concentrated around navigable bodies of water. The Mississippi Delta and the US Gulf Coast are elementary cases of poor soil conditions in areas historically utilised for shipping. The ground conditions improve further up the Mississippi River; however, as the ground conditions become more suitable for building large heavy structures, the likelihood of a seismic event also increases. Today’s ground improvement and specialty foundation…

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