How Geophysics Is Used In The Construction Industry

The basic dictionary definition of geophysics is the physics of the earth, but this branch of geology deals with so much more than that simple meaning implies. Seismology is the branch of science that deals with earthquakes. Oceanography is the branch that deals with the physical landscape of the ocean and the marine organisms that live there. Volcanology scientists study volcanoes.

These and other disciplines frequently overlap and together make up geophysics. These disciplines seek to understand the physical laws that dictate how the earth operates and reacts, which are important for people to understand. Geophysicist consultants, like those at Initial Exploration Services, use their knowledge along with technology to help customers make decisions that operate within these laws of nature. Here are three areas where geophysics is used in the building industry.

Seismic Site Classification

Building contractors can't always build any kind of building wherever they want. The architect may have drafted the perfect blueprints for a new luxury high-rise, but if it isn't built with the environment in mind, it could be disastrous. In fact, the Uniform Business Code as well as the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program require a building site have both a soil assessment and rating. This helps determine whether a site is a suitable building site, and what, if any, additional engineering will be required to successfully build on a specific spot.

Underground Utilities

Pipelines, such as those used for natural gas, are often buried underground for safety and aesthetic reasons. Determining where and how utilities should be buried requires geophysics and the use of special equipment that tests the soil porosity and other factors. Care must also be taken when underground utilities are placed in relation to lakes, rivers, and other waterways as well as if they lie under roadways or train tracks. Farmers' fields are another consideration as the pipeline will likely need to be buried deeper than the normal requirement. The equipment weight as well as turning the soil can play a role.

Additionally, underground utility detection is also important. Nothing can be built anywhere, even in your own backyard, without first getting the clear from utility companies and engineers. Utilities are located with electromagnetic magnetic frequencies or high frequency pulses from ground penetrating radar.

Subsurface Cavity Detection

Road engineers need to know, when they are building a road, that solid earth and rock exist below the surface of where they are building. There may be unknown cavities, voids, and underground rivers that may cause the earth to shift or cave in. Geophysicists can use electrical resistivity methods to detect these subsurface voids.