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Technical paper: Field measurements

J B Burland, MSc(Eng), PhD, CEng, MICE. This paper was first published in GE’s October 1977 edition.

Much of the work of the Geotechnics Division of the Building Research Establishment is devoted to observing the behaviour and performance of full-scale structures in the field. There are at least three important benefits from such an approach. Firstly, the accuracy of present analytical and predictive techniques can be evaluated and modified as necessary. Secondly, the in-situ properties of the ground can be deduced by back analysis and compared with laboratory and in-situ determinations. Thirdly, and perhaps most important, the measurements provide quantitative data which can be used as an aid to judgement in future design and construction of engineering works.

The first part of this article describes a variety of instruments and their use in observing the movement of the ground beneath and around foundations. The instruments include precision surveying equipment, inclinometers and borehole extensometers. 

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