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In cases where the investigation is being done for a building, the designers should provide the layout and footprint of the building, plans, and any column and wall loads. Retaining wall or slope stabilization projects require preliminary plans showing the location of drilled shaft walls in plan view and cross-section including elevations. 1 Geophysical Surveys Geophysical methods, in conjunction with borings, can provide useful information about the stratigraphy and properties of subsurface materials.

In practice this is not always feasible and factors such as experience, site access, degree of subsurface variability, geology, and importance of the structure will be considered. Where subsurface conditions exhibit extreme variations over short distances, multiple borings may be justified at a single shaft location to determine adequately the soil or rock conditions along the side and beneath the tip. For example, large-diameter shafts in karstic limestone, whether single or in groups, may require multiple borings at each shaft location to verify that the entire base will be founded on limestone and will not be affected by voids or zones of soil beneath the base.

These caissons were constructed as “pneumatic caissons” in which air pressure was maintained below the caisson as it sunk to prevent water inflow into the chamber below where workers excavated beneath the caisson cutting edge to sink the caisson to the required bearing stratum. Pneumatic caissons are rare today because of safety issues, but open well caissons are still occasionally used for bridges in deep water environments. Open well caissons typically consist of a box open at both top and bottom, with dredge wells for excavating the soil through the caisson to sink it into place.

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