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Sampling from Test Pits, Trenches and Stockpiles

John Huang, Ph.D., PE and John Poullain, PE

This three hour online course provides guidance for the procedures used for sampling soil and materials in support of geotechnical investigations from sources including test pits, trenches, tunnels, stockpiles, trucks and conveyor belts. It covers “accessible” explorations that are made with excavation equipment and conventional drilling equipment. Information on the methods for recovering, handling and storage of samples is discussed. Visual examination and other practices used during drilling and sample recovery are considered. Guidelines for the storage, handling and shipping of specimen samples are discussed. Soil types and factors such as the groundwater table are considered for sampling methods. Because of the risks inherent in accessible explorations the course addresses safety and health problems that are encountered during sampling operations and general precautionary measures to take.

Test pits, trenches, accessible borings and tunnels if economically feasible may be the best way to obtain the necessary subsurface information for projects. If they are economical to perform they fill in information gaps that are not always possible with conventional boring. Accessible excavations have advantages because they permit direct inspection of in situ subsurface conditions, formation stratification, recovery of large undisturbed samples and allow evaluation of certain excavation methods.

Samples must be handled and stored with care following established standards. Samples should be inventoried, examined and tested as soon as they are received. Sometimes however, especially for large testing programs, it may become necessary to store the samples for days or weeks, but no longer than 15 days If possible. If they are stored for a longer period of time undisturbed samples should be protected against damage or changes in water content by maintaining the storage temperatures close to those required for the project.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.