Types of soil excavation

Written by charles pearson
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Types of soil excavation
Depending on the project, excavations can be enormous. (excavation image by apeschi from Fotolia.com)

Excavation is a man-made cut in the ground which creates a depression in the earth. Soil excavation can be one of the most dangerous kinds of outdoor construction, since the excavation can create a hole that construction workers can fall in and could result in striking something that can lead to a releasing of biological hazards, such as an oil well. As a result, inspections of excavations should be done regularly, according to EZ Facts. Inspections should especially be done after a rainstorm, extreme weather, fissures, sudden changes in the soil pile or other disturbances. Various tools are used during excavations depending on the kind of soil that us being excavated.

Loose Soils

Loose and non-cohesive soil is usually excavated using a clamshell bucket and a pay-loader. Pay-loaders are types of heavy equipment that use very large shovels to lift soil into the back of a dump truck. Dump trucks are vehicles that use hydraulics to tilt the contents of the back of the truck over to dump them on the ground behind the dump truck. A tractor with a mounted shovel can also be used. These pieces of machinery can be very large, so there needs to be plenty of space available for these machines to get to the location that must be excavated, according to Construction Topic. Non-cohesive soil is sandy or made out of gravel.

Cohesive Soils

Cohesive soils need a power shovel or a pull shovel since these soils can be very heavy and difficult to move with many other kinds of heavy machinery. Pull shovels can sometimes dig when there are objects blocking the shovel's path. Power shovels, on the other hand, need plenty of space in order to get to the excavation location, according to Construction Topic. In some cases, the power shovel is attached to a ship so that the soil can be excavated from the water. Bulldozers are sometimes used to excavate cohesive soils and scrapers are used for very large excavations. Cohesive soils are clay, silt clay, sandy clay and clay loam.

Wet Soils

Draglines are used to excavate very moist soil. The machinery is placed on one or two stable spots and the wet soil is then dragged out, according to Construction Topic. In some cases, the soil must be drained, especially of the soil is submerged in water.

Small Excavations

Smaller excavations do not require heavy machinery. The traditional shovel is one of the most common excavation tools, especially for soil, according to Ghar Expert. Pickaxes are not as useful for soil but are necessary if the digger reaches a hard part of the soil that can't be broken up with the shovel.

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