top of page

Enhancing Soil Stability in Deep Excavations

Techniques and Software Solutions

1. Introduction

Soil improvement is a critical component in ensuring the stability and safety of deep excavations. Various techniques can enhance the soil's properties, making it more suitable for supporting structures and resisting loads. This article explores key soil improvement methods, including foundation piling, and highlights how DeepEX and DeepFND software can assist engineers in simulating and designing these improvements effectively.

Anchored excavation below a slope surface with soil nails - DeepEX

Figure 1: Anchored excavation below a slope surface with soil nails - DeepEX


2. Key Soil Improvement Techniques

·         Compaction

Deep Dynamic Compaction (DDC): Involves dropping heavy weights from significant heights to compact soil deeply. This method is effective in densifying loose granular soils, thus increasing their bearing capacity and reducing settlement.

Vibrocompaction: Utilizes vibratory probes to rearrange soil particles into a denser configuration, primarily effective for granular soils. This method helps improve the soil’s density and shear strength.

·         Grouting

Permeation Grouting: Involves injecting grout into the soil to fill voids and bind soil particles together. This enhances the soil’s strength and reduces its permeability.

Compaction Grouting: Injects a stiff grout under pressure to displace and compact surrounding soil, which improves its load-bearing capacity.

Jet Grouting: Uses high-pressure jets of grout to create columns of stabilized soil, significantly improving the soil’s structural properties.

·         Soil Mixing

Deep Soil Mixing (DSM): Involves mixing in-situ soil with cementitious and other binding agents using augers, creating soil-cement columns that enhance the soil’s load-bearing capacity and stability.

·         Soil Reinforcements

Geosynthetics: Employs geotextiles, geogrids, or geocells to reinforce soil, thereby improving its load-bearing capacity and stability.

Soil Nailing: Involves installing steel bars (nails) into a slope or excavation face to stabilize it, providing additional support to prevent collapse.

·         Stone Columns and Vibro-Replacement

Stone Columns: Creates vertical columns of gravel or crushed stone to reinforce soil, enhance drainage, and increase load-bearing capacity.

Vibro-Replacement: Similar to stone columns but utilizes vibratory probes to improve compaction and stability.

·         Foundation Piling

Micro-Piling: Uses small-diameter piles drilled and grouted to provide additional support in areas with limited access or where other methods are not feasible. These piles are ideal for improving bearing capacity and stability in difficult soil conditions.

Drilled Piles: Boreholes are drilled into the ground and filled with concrete and reinforcement to create deep foundation elements that transfer loads to deeper, more stable soil layers.

Driven Piles: Piles are driven into the ground using a pile driver, which helps to compact the surrounding soil and increase its load-bearing capacity.


3. Software Solutions for Simulating Soil Improvements

- DeepEX - Shoring Design Software

DeepEX is an advanced tool that facilitates the simulation and analysis of various soil improvement techniques within deep excavations. The software enables engineers to define and model improved soil zones, allowing for realistic and accurate representation of ground conditions after improvement procedures. By using DeepEX, engineers can:

Simulate Ground Improvement: Define custom soil zones with different properties to simulate techniques such as jet grouting and backfilling with improved materials.

Soil improvement (jet grouting) defined as a soil zone in DeepEX

Figure 2: Soil improvement (jet grouting) defined as a soil zone in DeepEX

Model Soil Reinforcements: Incorporate soil nails and geosynthetics into designs, ensuring enhanced stability and performance of excavation sites.

MSE wall in DeepEX software - Improvement with soil reinforcements (geogrids)

Figure 3: MSE wall in DeepEX software - Improvement with soil reinforcements (geogrids)

Analyze Stone Columns: Evaluate the impact of stone columns on soil stability and load-bearing capacity within the excavation model.

Figure 4: Soil reinforcements and stone columns in DeepEX

Figure 4: Soil reinforcements and stone columns in DeepEX

- DeepFND - Deep Foundations Design Software

DeepFND complements DeepEX by providing robust tools for designing and analyzing deep foundation systems. The software supports various pile types, including helical piles, drilled, driven, and micropiles, which are essential for improving soil bearing capacity in challenging conditions. Key features of DeepFND include:

Design Pile Groups: Optimize the arrangement and design of pile groups to enhance the bearing capacity and stability of the soil.

Analyze Load Distribution: Evaluate how loads are distributed among piles, ensuring that the foundation system is robust and efficient.

Structural and Geotechnical Design of the Piles: Get all structural checks and geotechnical bearing capacities for single piles, pile groups and pile rafts.

Axial and Lateral Pile Analysis: Apply all loads applied on the pile heads or on the pile caps and review the calculated bearing capacities in tension and compression for each pile, the lateral moment, shear and displacement graphs along the pile, the stress results (moments, shear, displacements, settlements) for the pile cap and more.

Pile group analysis with DeepFND

Figure 5: Pile group analysis with DeepFND

4. Conclusion

Effective soil improvement is crucial for the success of deep excavation projects. Techniques such as compaction, grouting, soil mixing, soil reinforcement, stone columns, and foundation piling can significantly enhance soil properties, ensuring stability and safety. Utilizing advanced software like DeepEX and DeepFND allows engineers to accurately simulate these improvements, optimize designs, and achieve reliable results in their excavation and foundation projects. By leveraging these tools, engineers can confidently address complex soil conditions and deliver robust, stable structures.


DeepEX Shoring and tunnel design software

Let us show you how to design a deep excavation in minutes!



bottom of page