Cone penetrometer testing

The cone penetrometer forms the basis of a variety of tools and equipment we have to hand for soil surveys both onshore and offshore. It consists of a cone-tipped probe, or penetrometer, pushed into the soil at a constant rate of penetration obtaining cone resistance, sleeve friction and pore pressure.

We were the first to commercially exploit an electric penetrometer measuring both tip resistance and sleeve friction continuously during penetration.  With time, various sensors were added to enable measurement such as pore pressure, inclination, temperature and conductivity.

Our development of CPT applications has a number of advantages that combine well with boring, sampling and standard penetration tests. Cone Penetrometer testing:

  • Identifies soil stratigraphy in terms of general soil behavior and, to lesser degree, soil type.
  • Provides a continuous (although indirect) record of ground conditions, avoiding the ground disturbance associated with boring and sampling.
  • Yields data that may be used in long-established semi-empirical design methods, such as analysis of foundation bearing capacity, foundation settlement, pile carrying capacity and liquefaction potential.
  • Routinely, ground engineering properties (cu, Ø, Eoed , E’ and Dr) may be derived from the data, the accuracy of assessment increasing when a piezo-cone is deployed.
  • Yields thousands or tens of thousands of data points that can be digitally stored and transferred in real time.
  • Is a cost-effective method employing rapid probing rates to accredited test procedures.

Piezo-cones (CPTU) can also be used to assess hydrostatic head, consolidation and permeability characteristics.

CPTs have a wide range of applications that include:

  • Offshore oil & gas pipeline route investigations, trenching and stability studies
  • Geotechnical investigations for seabed structures and anchors
  • Submarine cable route surveys and burial assessment studies
  • Onshore civil engineering studies
  • Pre-dredge investigations
  • Ground truth for geophysical survey and morphological mapping.

CPT Applications and Advantages:

  • Geotechnical and environmental site investigations
  • Continuous soil stratigraphy
  • Identification of thin seams and layers
  • Estimation of geotechnical and hydro geological properties
  • Prompt collection and interpretation of field data (two to three times faster than traditional methods)
  • Economical (typically one-third the price of borings)
  • Elimination of drill cuttings, so site remains are undisturbed
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Enhanced operational safety
  • Inclement weather operability
  • Terrain adaptability (land, marsh, and open water)
  • Operated by a Fugro geotechnical expert with local knowledge

Cone penetration tests performed by us are carried out in general accordance with standards such as published by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the British Standard Institute (BSI) and the International Society for Soil Mechanics and foundation engineering.

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