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Selection guide

The recently published 'AGS Guide to the Selection of Geotechnical Soil Laboratory Testing' has filled a significant gap in the geotechnical literature.

It is a well written, practical guide which follows in sequence the processes and procedures required in the selection of soil tests; procurement of testing services; presentation of results as well as the application of laboratory tests to different design problems and solutions.

The Guide is easy to read and is arranged into two parts presented in a practical A4 ring binder format to allow future additional chapters or updates to be easily accommodated.

There are numerous tabulations of data, graphical representations, flow charts, summary sheets etc all complementing the text.

Part 1 establishes the principles and context of soil testing within an overall ground investigation framework. There are chapters describing commonly performed tests and their uses; design of testing programmes; procurement of tests and guidance on the use of test results. There are also chapters on testing and sampling strategies required for contaminated land; testing of weak and weathered rocks; testing of manmade soils; stabilised soil, reinforced earth and geotextile testing as well as some of the more specialised tests that are not commonly available in the commercial environment.

While the document concerns itself mainly with current UK practice, there is a very useful chapter summarising the international scene covering soil types and other National Standards and practices.

Part 2 sets out general design principles for a wide range of geotechnical processes, such as bored piling and reinforced soil embankments, and for each identifies the appropriate testing required to assist in the design parameters. The figures and tables present in a clear and succinct format the key soil parameters that should be determined for generic solutions envisaged. This section is a major feature of the guide and is likely to prove invaluable to geotechnical practitioners.

The document is well referenced throughout and should be a welcome addition not only to those entering the industry, but also the well established consultant, contractor and client, and to a broad spectrum of non-specialists who may have to procure, direct and interpret ground investigations occasionally.

The guide will also be of considerable benefit across the wide spectrum of individuals, institutions and companies involved with procuring, specifying and performing laboratory testing.

The AGS Guide complements and supplements the 'Good Practice in Site Investigation' and 'Code of Conduct in Site Investigation' initiatives and clearly demonstrates the AGS's commitment to promote the improvement and quality of all aspects on geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering.

John Masters, director of Geolabs and member of AGS laboratory testing guide drafting committee.

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