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Problem busters

Spotlight - The geotechnics market continues to develop an incredible variety of solutions to an increasingly complex set of problems, as Margo Cole reports.

Many geotechnical engineers rely on gINT software for storing, manipulating and interpreting site investigation data. The company constantly develops new tools to add functionality to the basic database system.

Leeke ssociates, e K distributor of gINT software, has developed a new contaminated land tool to enable engineers to combine chemical and geological information and carry out statistical analysis of both.

'The nvironment gency has introduced guidelines for people to do statistics on contamination results, ' explains gINT's Phil Wade. 'They needed a tool for doing work on that data and displaying in two and a half dimensions.' The company's new tool is an add-on to gINT that imports contaminant data from a chemical lab along with geological information.

Here it can be managed and manipulated to produce maps and sections or different tables and written reports. 'The way a lot of people do it at the moment is to get the data in Excel and do simple statistics in Excel, ' explains Wade. 'If they wanted to produce a map or section they would have to do it in a drawing program like AutoCAD, but there is no intelligent communication between the two. This new software means there is no middle man, and none of the translation problems that you might get with a CAD guy trying to draw it up.' Arup is using gINT in a different way to combine two types of data - in this case historic and new borehole information. The consultant has a contract with the Highways Agency to investigate the potential for widening the M1 motorway between junctions 21 and 30 in the East Midlands.

'The software is helping us to manage what would otherwise be an unmanageable amount of data, ' says Arup senior geotechnical engineer Sam Godden. 'There is a large amount of historical borehole data - from 1,500 boreholes - dating back to the 1960s, and from various widening and junction schemes since then. Every one of these boreholes had AGS data but in an out of date format.' In fact the data was kept in the archive of the British Geological Survey, which provided Arup with a hard copy version. The consultant then had this digitised so it could be input with chemical information to the gINT database systems for analysis as part of the initial desk study.

'When we get our results in from the new investigations we will bring that into the database and use it side by side, ' explains Godden.

Site investigations are currently under way, with some new boreholes being dug. 'They were done properly in the first place, ' says Godden, 'but it was a bit more minimalist then.

The database helps us to identify where the gaps are and where there is very good coverage.

'In some places we're putting the boreholes very close to validate the original data and to fill the gaps, ' she continues.

Supervising engineers have access to the database while on site, so if they encounter a change in the ground conditions or find it difficult to drill they can check the historical data to get the right background information.

'It is such a huge project - with 85km of road and a variety of ground conditions - that the engineers cannot be expected to hold the geology in their heads, ' says Godden. 'It is very useful to be able to look at the database and see what happened before.' US rm Dataforensics has developed a tool that it hopes will simplify life for engineers working with gINT on site. The 'PLog' allows data to be collected on a PDA and then uploaded directly onto a PC running gINT.

'Our mission is to help streamline field data collection and reporting, ' explains Dataforensics' president Scott Deaton. 'Instead of writing everything on paper when doing a SI you have software than runs on PDAs, so you can standardise data, validate the data - because there are so many checks built in - and generate a borehole log.

It eliminates a lot of potential for errors.' www. gintsoftware. com www. leekeassociates. co. uk www. arup. com www. dataforensics. net

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