Department of Earth Science |Northeastern Illinois University

ESCI 340
Spring, 2007

Geotechnical Project                                                                     Sanders

The completed report is due on Tuesday, May 1!

The geotechnical project for the semester involves a project site on the NEIU campus.  A four-story parking structure will be constructed.  In class you will receive a general description of the work as well as boring logs and other data.

NOTE: As you can guess, this is based on a real project, using data and drawings from a real geotechnical engineering firm.  To keep things fair, and to avoid annoying the professionals who agreed to help us out by providing their data, do not contact anyone at the engineering firm or at NEIU regarding this project.  You may work together with other students to develop your ideas and work out the problems.  However, every student is responsible for every portion of the project and will hand in her/his own paper individually.

Work on this project will be done in a step-by-step fashion.  Each step will be done separately, and then all the parts will be compiled for the final report.  For each step, you'll turn in a draft of your work, which I will review and comment on (without grading it).  Your job then is to revise that portion of the work according to the comments, and put it together with the other portions of the work as you compile the final report.  The final report should be polished so that it reads smoothly (not just a collection of homework assignments).

Check back to this page to see new parts of the assignment as they are added!
Step 1.  The first step of the project involves reconnaissance work.  Locate the project site on maps (topographic and geologic).  Based on these sources (or any others you may consult), write a description of the topography (no more than a half-page) and a general description of the sediment and bedrock conditions at the site and in the general area (no more than 1.5 pages).  Click to see how this work will be evaluated(Assigned in class the week of April 5, 2007.)

NOTE: See an outline of the paper below; it will be expanded as we go along.  Use a scientific/technical writing style.  This is an impersonal style that communicates clearly, completely, and concisely, without editorializing.  Do not use the words "I" or "we" or "our" or "my".  Use the third person, and while you should avoid passive voice as much as possible, don't be afraid to use it when you need it.
Step 2.  Now that you know where the project location is and what the geology and surficial soils are like, let's look at subsurface conditions.  Because there is some chance that the foundation of the parking structure will need to be set into bedrock, some of the borings at the site were extended that far.  Using the boring logs, which appear in a pdf file at this link [Warning: this is a large file, about 3.5 MB; please give it time to download.  If you can't open it, please let me know and we'll try something else], construct two fence diagrams (a type of cross section) that represent the subsurface conditions in the area.  Include at least one of the deep borings in each cross section.  A fence diagram is a type of cross section that extends not in a straight line, but from point to point, not in a straight line.  Provide a map view of the area that shows where your two cross sections extend.

Be sure to indicate the ground surface, the geologic conditions (clearly label each layer), and the water levels (during drilling as well as at completion of the boring, if that information is available).  On your cross section, show the locations of the borings themselves (use a single line to show each boring location, and draw it to the appropriate length so that it represents the depth of the boring).  Draw and label the line of cross section (for example, A-A') on the map, and label it on the cross section as well.  Don't forget to give the horizontal and vertical scales, complete with units!  Click to see how this work will be evaluated(Assigned in class  April 10, 2007.)

Step 3.  Now that you have the general geology figured out, and you have drawn a visual representation of the subsurface conditions (i.e. the cross sections), it's time to write up what you did. 

Write a paragraph called "Soil Boring Data and Analysis" that, first, "points to" the soil borings.  For example, you might say, "Logs of soil borings are included in Appendix A."  (Then, put those boring logs in Appendix A!)  Then, explain what you did with the soil boring data and what the results were (e.g. you constructed a cross section--how?--and the result is the cross section itself).  Include a sentence that "points to" the cross section (for example, "The cross section appears as Figure XX.")

Next, write a section (called "Soil and Rock Conditions") that describes your analysis of the results of the boring program.  Here you will describe in words what the geology of the area is.  It's visually depicted on the cross sections, but we need a written description as well.  Approach it this way:  if the head of the Facilities Management office at NEIU were to say to you, "Please tell me what soil conditions we will encounter as we put in the foundation for the parking garage," how would you respond to them?  This section should be 1-2 pages long.  Keep in mind that it should be based on the site-specific data that were collected during the boring program--so it's different from the generalized information you collected in Step 1.  In the site-specific description, you can give depths, thicknesses, and descriptions of the layers of soil.

Finally, write a section called "Ground Water", in which you describe the subsurface water conditions.  The foundation of the parking garage will go in this area, so the whole building will be supported on a foundation that might--or might not--be in contact with water. It will be important for the engineers designing the foundation to know whether or not they will have to deal with water, since water can cause significant problems.  If you do expect water to be found in the area, tell at what depths.  Also, is it likely to be present year-round, or only during rainy spells or wet years?
Step 4. 

The final step of the project assignment is to put all your work together into a final, polished report.  Take your work from the last several weeks and compile it into a report that incorporates the edits that were suggested. 

* Cover page giving report title, date, and your name.  If you want to make up a name and logo for your imaginary geotechnical consulting firm, that should be included on the first page too.

* Introduction: Start with the heading, "Introduction".  This section will include the Scope of Work (meaning a general introduction to the project, including the purpose of it, the location, and the general conditions under which it was carried out), and the General Geology

* Methods and Results: Start with the heading, "Soil Boring Data Analysis and Results", and insert that section from Step 3, above.

* Discussion and Recommendations:  Start with the heading, "Discussion and Recommendations".  Here, insert the section from Step 3 called "Soil and Rock Conditions" and the section called "Ground Water".  Finally, write a short section called "Recommendations".  In this section, tell if you have any specific recommendations as to how the engineers should proceed as they design the foundation.

* References Cited:  Start a new page with the heading, "References Cited".  List references cited in alphabetical order by author's last name, using the same format that our textbook uses.

* Appendices: Appendices should be assigned letters in alpha order: Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.  This section should have a cover page that says,  centered on the page, "Appendices"  (if there is only one, it should say "Appendix")  This section includes lengthy tables, soil boring logs, or other lengthy features that would interrupt the flow of the text if included in the body of the paper.

* FIGURES:  Figures should be numbered consecutively (1, 2, 3...)  All figures must be referred to in the paper.  ("Figure 1 shows...."). 

* TABLES: Tables should be numbered consecutively (1, 2, 3...) All tables must be referred to in the paper.

FORMAT: Text portions of the work must be typed, double-spaced, with margins of 1.5 inches on the left and 1 inch on the top, bottom, and right.  You may use a 1.5 inch margin at the top of the first page if you wish.  Any equations or numerical calculations may be typed or written neatly by hand, in ink.

AVOIDING PLAGIARISM: You MUST CITE THE SOURCE of any information you use that is not from your own brain.  Use the same citation format that our textbook uses.

Remember: Check back to see further assignments as they are added!

Department of Earth Science | Northeastern Illinois University

© 2007 Laura L. Sanders.  Last updated April 26, 2007.