Olsson Associates


New geotechnical systems will improve design and construction for our clients

Friday, September 23, 2016

Linda Van Hoosen, Communications

Tradition, integrity, and great client relationships – these things make a company attractive to its clients. Olsson Associates goes beyond these important elements. Staying on top of and in front of technology are also essential to the success of our clients. Olsson’s Geotechnical group has added some new tools to increase its capacity to perform work firmwide. This investment will better serve our clients.

“Through these new systems, we’re able to provide better design and construction,” said Jeff Edson, team leader for the Western Regions Field Operations. “That translates to construction cost savings. These systems allow Olsson to better refine our design recommendations and our internal designs as well.”

  Olsson’s Geotechnical Services team recently added a 24-channel seismic system, thermal resistivity measuring instruments, and roadway condition videography equipment. The 24-channel seismic system allows our Geotechnical teams to go out and complete seismic surveys. They create seismic waves, typically by striking the ground with a sledge hammer, and the system collects the primary and secondary seismic wave information.                                                                                                                                            
From there, the team analyzes and produces 1-D, 2-D, and 3-D modeling of the subsurface from the survey information.

“Olsson is able to create better seismic zone classifications on projects from this process,” Jeff said. “We can see any hidden voids or issues below grade that regular geotechnical drilling doesn’t catch. It also gives the geotechnical and structural engineers a better feel for the actual recommendations they are providing to our clients.  This system could potentially provide huge construction cost savings by helping the structural design teams to adjust their designs to meet the site parameters.”

Thermal resistivity measures the ability of on-site soils or materials to absorb and dissipate heat. The instruments are capable of performing both lab and field thermal resistivity testing.

“When you have electrical transmission lines or heat/steam pipes below ground, this device assist in determining how materials will take on the heat from the lines.  The device cycles through several series of test and provides our clients with a thermal property curve for the on-site materials,” Jeff said. “Measuring the thermal resistivity helps electrical, transmission and distribution designers figure out how to shield their lines or pipes.”

The thermal resistivity tool also allows Olsson to study how backfill materials will dissipate the heat traveling through the line so the pipe or the insulation doesn’t burn or become brittle and eventually damage the asset. Olsson engineers can design a system to take those heat properties and evenly distribute it through the design.

Another recent service we’ve added to our Field Operations team is roadway video survey. Olsson utilizes this system for pre- and post-construction surveys and the system provides the client a map of their project with the location of roadway conditions, signage and structures all geotagged that is reviewable on typical existing software systems.

“We videotape everything and geotag all the locations,” he said. “The system is connected to a GPS antenna so we can develop an interactive GIS map. We can also put the data into Google Earth so clients can click on the program and then click on the map and see the roadway, signage and structure conditions.”

These new services add to Olsson’s existing array of full-service geotechnical and testing capabilities. They increase the firm’s presence in completing geophysical surveys for clients. For more information about Olsson’s geotechnical field services, contact Jeff Edson at 303.237.2072.

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