"Keep you friends close and your enemies closer." Sun Tzu

Adverse geotechnical conditions present a risk to your project. And being as bright at you look, you need to mitigate that risk. We can assist you in that by:

  • Drilling boreholes
  • Digging test pits
  • Sampling the soil and rock
  • Carrying out in-situ and laboratory testing
  • Installing a monitoring system
  • Providing sage advice on how to manage your geotechnical challenges.

GeoZone specialises in geohazard and geotechnical assessments, risk management and monitoring

Sun Tzu said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” and he knew a thing or two about warfare. The interaction of your structure with the earth is a very intimate one, as the soil and rock provide the support a building needs. But the earth can be your enemy too - and you need to be very aware of the dangers that lie in wait should you neglect the prevailing geotechnical conditions. 

  • Soils settle when excessively loaded
  • Soils expand and contract over the seasonal fluctuations in moisture content
  • Sands may collapse when loaded should they have an open grain structure
  • Slopes fail when over-steepened and if water is allowed into the soil profile
  • Deep clays, shallow rock, unfavourably orientated joints and ancient landslips can impact on your development, depending on what you are building.

Some very clever people have take the trouble to understand how these materials behave

Those who have taken the trouble to understand how these materials behave have written dozens of books and hundreds of scientific papers on the subject. For example, clayey soils, if loaded excessively, will consolidate as the water between the clay particles is squeezed out, with the result that they will consolidate and your building may fail. Sands may suddenly collapse when loaded, especially if there is water around. Whether it's consolidation or collapse settlement, your building is going to suffer. It may even fail catastrophically.

Soil heave over a five-year cycle can destroy a building

Another aspect of soil behaviour that is often overlooked is their ability to expand and contract. Clays can take up moisture in the wet season, and lose it in the dry, expanding and contracting over the seasonal fluctuations in the soil moisture content. These are known as ‘heaving’ clays and over a five-year cycle can destroy a building. The damage from expansive soils in the US exceeds that of hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes combined. That’s a sobering fact.

It may fail if the imposed loads exceed the shear strength of the soils

Cut slopes behind your building can fail and bury it in a morass of mud. Even worse, your beautiful development, constructed on a poorly engineered fill embankment, may fail if the imposed loads exceed the shear strength of the soils. The stability of any slope can also be seriously compromised if it becomes saturated due to a host of reasons including bad plumbing, high rainfall, or a flood.

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Each formation has its own peculiarities

Andre Brink wrote  'Engineering Geology of Southern Africa' which eventually went to 4 volumes. We constantly refer to these books, because they are full of information on the engineering properties of the different soil and rock formations that make up the geology of South Africa. Each formation has its own peculiarities - for example the dolomites around Pretoria form sinkholes that can swallow up whole buildings and which require special measures to prevent this. The Berea Formation that forms the high ridges above Durban and the coastal towns are subject to collapse settlement when loaded. The ancient granites that underlie much of the country, when weathered, can behave in a similar way. Heaving soils are widespread, and foundations need to be designed to mitigate the effects of this heave.

Being the bright and conscientious soul that you are

Being the bright and conscientious soul that you are, it would be foolhardy of you to ignore the dangers that may lie in wait. If the threats are known, it is a relatively simple matter to manage them, if they are not, you may have an expensive problem on your hands.

But we are here to help

But we are here to help. We have stared that enemy in the face many times, and by using the right tactics he can be defeated. However we need to take the right approach. We manage this by digging holes, drilling boreholes, and testing the soils to bolt down their strengths and their weaknesses. All this viyal intel allows us to assess their propensity for malevolence, following which we can advise on the best approach to take. This may take the form of where you shouldn't build, what foundations you need, the batter angles of your slopes, and how to deal with groundwater. It may mean designing retaining walls and beefing up foundations, and the supervision of the installation thereof. We can assist you with installing rockfall barriers and mesh to prevent rockfalls in the first place. We can install monitoring systems to measure how your project is performing or whether the ground is on the move.

Cover yourself in glory

This is your show, and you need to put on a good one. And we are here to help. So send us an email, or pick up the phone and let us guide you through those unknown territories where those malevolent soils or unstable rock masses may well be waiting in ambush. You need to understand your enemy, and you are going to keep him close by by default as your structure interacts with the earth. The ground needs to become your friend, able to support your project over the many years of its life. It is way better to win your adversary over at the start, whilst at the same time covering yourself in glory, than have to fight a rearguard action to keep the enemy at bay later on.

Defeat the enemy

We may not be as wise as Sun Tzu, but we have learned a few things along the way, and what's more, the urge to defeat the enemy and inform you of the dangers which may lie ahead is just as strong, and that is what counts.

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Contact us via info(a)geozone.co.za, or phone us on 082 9260626.

Our Story

Since 2009, GeoZone GeoServices has been assisting civil and mining engineers, architects, developers and environmental consultants in solving their geotechnical challenges. And we are looking forward to assisting you. We specialise in new technologies which include rock fall protection systems, monitoring and instrumentation. We have worked on some of the key infrastructure projects in Southern Africa, which include the Gautrain, Chapman's Peak Drive, the Lesotho Highlands Project and the Metolong Dam.  And further afield, we instrumented the fills for the new airport on St. Helena out there in the grey Atlantic. As grand as these may sound, we are also more than willing to take on your small project and assist in any way we can.

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Praise and Testimonials

Great service, with thorough, well-reasoned, yet practical approach to addressing the expansive soil found on my site. Your advice and solutions have reassured me that any heaving / shrinking issues have been mitigated to acceptable levels and your willingness to share and transfer your knowledge in a friendly yet independent manner is refreshing and much appreciated.

Patrick M Property Owner

GeoZone GeoServices installed the instrumentation system at the Nacala Dam rehabilitation project in Northern Mozambique in 2012. The work that they undertook was carried out in a professional manner and we were satisfied with their performance and the quality of their work. I would have no hesitation in recommending GeoZone GeoServices for future work.

Jan N Principal Engineer, J&G

This is to certify that GeoZone GeoServices supplied, installed and monitored the instruments and monitoring systems for the Gautrain Remedial Works. The work was carried out to a good standard and the results from the monitoring assisted the Engineers in their deliberations and monitoring of the grouting works.

Pieter O Project Manager, M&R


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