Geotechnical data is important to your model

by: Guest Author | 08/04/2016
Estimated Reading time: 5 - 8 minutes

Guest author Gary Morin, Keynetix

Atkins - Silvertown2

Image courtesy of Transport for London (TfL)

Geotechnical data: it is as important to your model as the building or the structure

How many times have you seen a floating building or structure when you see a model depicted? You know the actual model isn’t floating, so why is it shown this way? Why don’t we see the geotechnical part modeled? Some would say it’s too time consuming and difficult to integrate the geotechnical data.  But in the model above you see the geotechnical as part of the model in the Transport for London (TfL) Silvertown Tunnel project.

There is value in showing this geotechnical modeling. One of the major causes of project overruns and overspends is encountering unforeseen ground conditions at the construction stage. Using quality geotechnical data management and modeling techniques together with a thorough site investigation will greatly aid your understanding of the site and should help reduce those costly unforeseen ground conditions.

In the TfL project, the south portal of the tunnel route is the site of a demolished gas works. The soil in that area is contaminated and there are still remnants of the underground foundations of the plant. On the south and north banks, the proposed tunnel location comes close to the pylon foundations of the Emirates Air Line cable car. Additionally, the north bank tunnel portal is in the area of the now-filled western entrance to the Royal Victoria Dock and some demolished warehouses. Like the gas works on the south bank, there are still underground remnants of these features.

“The tunnel on both sides of the river will need to thread through heavily industrialized areas of London, with a myriad of existing soil types, roads, foundations, and other subsurface structures, as well as subsurface remnants of demolished structures.”  – Simon Miles, principal geotechnical engineer, Atkins

The increased costs of treating contaminated materials makes accurate volume calculations vital for assessing cost implications. 

Geological modeling adds value to BIM process

  • Make geotechnical part of your BIM model
  • Bring it into Civil 3D environment
  • Visualize the boring data in context of the site – improve decisions and quickly create 3D boreholes and sub-surfaces
  • Minimize the time it takes to create geotechnical profiles (hours to seconds)
  • More easily create civil point groups and surfaces from data stored in HoleBASE SI
  • More integrated approach to editing and manipulating geological surfaces and styles


The HoleBASE SI Extension for AutoCAD® Civil 3D together with HoleBASE SI will allow geotechnical professionals and CAD technicians to rapidly visualise geotechnical data in context with the proposed site. HoleBASE SI Extension for  Civil 3D allows quick and easy inclusion of all geotechnical and site investigation data within the CAD environment, whether you need to quickly understand the location and geology in-context of the site or you need it to form the basis to start modeling the strata.

“To reduce the overall project cost and risk, we needed ways to better see and understand subsurface soil conditions in the context of existing built conditions, and calculate earthwork quantities and areas that will be impacted by construction.”  – Simon Miles, principal geotechnical engineer, Atkins

With HoleBASE SI Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D:

  • Streamline import and use of borehole data
  • Quickly create surfaces representing the various strata
  • In a few clicks generate profile views to display strip
  • Rapidly manage changes and updates to geotechnical data


On the TfL project this extension was used to quickly visualize geotechnical data in the model-based, multidisciplinary Civil 3D environment; and was used to quickly combine, organize and manage geology data and then see that data in the context of existing and proposed above and below ground structures. The value of this geological modeling was to help Atkins better understand and evaluate the design alignments, find construction obstructions and determine what additional investigation was necessary to better understand the subsurface conditions.

“The HoleBASE SI Extension for Civil 3D streamlined the flow of information from our site investigation and testing to drawing production and visualization. As a result, we had more time to refine our design and were more responsive to changes from new geotechnical data.” – Jerome Chamfray, BIM manager, Atkins


Read the story: Atkins TfL Silvertown Tunnel


About Keynetix

Keynetix are experts in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Data Management. Our solutions cover every stage of the Geotechnical data journey from planning, through site work and reporting to 3D Modelling, BIM and National Archives.  Learn more about Keynetix partnership with Autodesk.

Gary Morin originally trained as a civil engineer and has over 30 years of experience working in the production and support of a range of geographic information systems and CAD software systems. He is now the technical director of Keynetix, which he co-founded in 2000 to specialize in geotechnical data management software. He heads up the geotechnical Building Information Modeling (BIM) development and is responsible for the design and being an evangelist for a range of products designed to manage geotechnical data in the BIM process, including the HoleBASE SI, the Geotechnical Module from Autodesk, Inc., and the advance HoleBASE SI extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D software. In recent years Gary has been at the forefront of geotechnical BIM and how it can transform working practices to enable a better understanding and integration of geotechnical data into the wider construction process.





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