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C370
Geotechnical Exploration and Testing for Roads

John Poullain, PE

This five hour online course covers the latest methods for planning a geotechnical exploration for road pavement projects. The course provides guidelines for a well-planned exploration program including sampling and testing issues and the exploration requirements for borrow and subgrades. It reviews the geophysical methods, FWD, SR, GPR, EM, their advantages and disadvantages. It discusses the characterization of existing and constructed subgrades, base and subbase materials. Problem subgrade soils such as expansive soils, and frost susceptible soils are discussed. A flow chart outlines the steps in planning a geotechnical investigation.

It has been shown that a majority of all construction claims were related to inadequate subsurface information. The design of a pavement, subgrade, excavation, and fill requires an understanding of soil strength; soil characteristics and consideration of problem soils and how soil behaves under imposed wheel loads. The course discusses the influence of geotechnical inputs of pavements with respect to methods and techniques used for subsurface exploration. How the locations and number of borings and samples are selected and types of exploratory methods employed is discussed.

Among the topics covered in this course include:

  • Geotechnical issues and key parameters that are considered in pavement design and construction.
  • Geotechnical exploration required for borrow, base, subbase and subgrade materials.
  • Levels of geotechnical exploration required for type of pavement projects - new construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation.
  • Review of geophysical tests, mechanical waves and electromagnetic techniques, used for stratigraphic profiling subsurface conditions.
  • Use of geophysical tests to assist in determining soil-boring locations, for interpolating between borings and the advantages and disadvantages.
  • Requirements for the minimum number of borings, depths and spacing of borings, samplings and testing pertaining to different types of construction.
  • Handling, transporting and protection of disturbed and undisturbed samples.
  • Essential data for presentation in boring logs, plan views and subsurface profiles.


  • 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.

    AIA Members: You must take the courses listed under the category "AIA/CES Registered Courses" if you want us to report your Learning Units (LUs) to AIA/CES. If you take courses not registered with AIA/CES, you need to report the earned Learning Units (not qualified for HSW credits) using Self Report Form provided by AIA/CES.

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