Ground Investigations

The ground investigation is the most fundamental part of the site investigation as a whole.

Following the results of a Phase I Preliminary Risk Assessment, when a Phase II site investigation is required which en-compass’s the ground investigation.

The ground investigation involves the fieldwork’s part of any project and includes intrusive work such as trial pits and boreholes.


Types of Ground investigations


Trial Pits

Trial pits are excavated either by hand adjacent to existing foundations or mechanically to provide an insight into the shallow ground conditions at a site.  Trial pits are more cost effective than boreholes and can enable a greater profile of the soils but are generally restricted to around 3.50m depth with a standard JCB 3CX type machine.  The advantages of boreholes is that greater depths can be achieved and more detailed soil and rock strengths can be recorded.  Also a borehole will disturb a far smaller area than a trial pit – too much ground disturbance is not ideal as it can affect the construction.


Window Sample and Windowless Sample Boreholes

Window sample and windowless sample boreholes using a tracked rig and can reach depths of around 6.00 to 8.00mbgl depending on ground conditions. Hand held equipment is used on sites with difficult access or where borehole positions are on existing slopes. Window sample boreholes the cheapest form or borehole and can usually drill approximately six locations in a day.  They are ideal for a ground investigation which requires chemical sampling, installing ground gas and ground water monitoring wells for subsequent environmental monitoring, and for in-situ geotechnical testing of the shallow underlying soils.  However they are restricted to shallow depths.


Cable Percussion Boreholes

Also referred to as “cable tool” or “shell & auger”, tripod rigs that can reach significant depths but are limited to drilling through soils or drift geology and weak weathered rock.  Cable percussion boreholes are used when information is required at depths greater than around 6.00mbgl from the ground investigation.  Depending upon the ground conditions and final depths required, in may be necessary to commence drilling in larger diameter casing and reducing as depth to facilitate the drilling process.  GeoCon generally use 6″ and 8″ casing on the majority of our ground investigation projects, however we do have the capability to use 10″ and 12″.

GeoCon also use difficult access cable percussion rig called “cut down rigs” which are used on sites with difficult access or low head room such as inside existing buildings.


Rotary Boreholes

Rotary techniques are used to drill through rock / solid geology.  There are two types or rotary borehole frequently used on ground investigation projects, rotary open boreholes and rotary cored boreholes.  Rotary open hole boreholes are drilled on projects such as mining investigations when the structural details of the rock is not necessarily important but we are more interested in the presence of voids that could indicate shallow mine workings. Rotary cored boreholes are drilled when structural details of the underlying rock are required.  Generally used in applications such as when a proposed development has a heavy loadings, when the site is underlain by shallow bedrock, sites with slope stability issues or when geological faulting is present at a site and could affect any proposed developments.

Probe holes; probe holes (not to be confused with dynamic probing) are utilised on projects where they may be a former mine shaft on the site.  Probe holes are carried out by a rotary drilling rig but rather than drilling, the drill rods are “pushed” into the ground until they are unable to continue due to being restricted by rock head.  Holes are probed in a spiral pattern at approximately 1.00m spacing. Over an area of usually 15 -20m squared, we can collect information regarding the general depth to rock head beneath the site, then if a mine shaft is present the drill rods will continue to a greater depth than the adjacent probe holes – this indicates the location of the mine shaft.

GeoCon use a variety of ground investigation techniques to ensure the correct approach is utilised on each project.  Every project is bespoke and every site is different, that’s why GeoCon use our specialist expert knowledge to design every ground investigation on an individual basis.


Gas Monitoring Services & Reports

GeoCon offers a gas monitoring service either as part of a site investigation or as a single service.  Using a gas analyser and flow pod to record concentrations of hazardous ground gases and their flow rates.

In addition, we can offer gas sampling via Gresham Tubes.


Geological Mapping

GeoCon have extensive experience in geological mapping both at surface and subsurface level. We use a variety of techniques including drilling boreholes, logging outcrops, logging and reviewing existing boreholes and borehole information held by the British Geological Survey (BGS), utilising existing geological maps such as the BGS maps at large scale to assist in the production of small scale geological maps.


Ground Water Monitoring

We cover ground water monitoring including monitoring standing water levels, ground water sampling and permeability testing.

Groundwater sampling is carried out using techniques such as Bailers and Watterra Tubing.  Samples are then sent for subsequent analysis.


Surface Water Monitoring

Surface Water sampling can be carried out on streams, rivers or other water courses in close proximity to contaminated land in order to gain an understanding on a sites contaminating influence upon the environment.


Water Wells Investigation

In line with our geological and hydrogeological consultancy, GeoCon design, drill and install water wells for both private and commercial use.

Current UK legislation permits anyone to own a private water well with the ability to extract up to 20 cubic meters (20,000 litres) of groundwater per day without requiring a license to extract.

In addition to this there are no restrictions for which the water may be used.





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