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First Edition
Copyright 2005

Prepared by




First Edition

DFI Deep Foundations Institute

326 Lafayette Avenue
Hawthorne, NJ 07506 USA

May 10, 2005


Copyright 2005
All Rights Reserved
This book or any part thereof must not be reproduced in
any form without the written permission of the publisher.
Printed in USA

This publication of the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) is intended to provide
the industry with model practice guidelines for design and construction of
structural slurry walls. It does not represent a design document, nor does it
provide a pre-engineered slurry wall specification; rather, it is a composite of
the opinions of practicing engineers, construction experts and the DFI Slurry
Wall/Trench Committee. This publication is intended to provide an understanding of standard slurry wall practices in the U.S. heavy construction industry.
Industry practice standards and DFI practice guidelines are intended to highlight major considerations in selecting structural slurry wall elements for temporary and permanent use as foundation elements. Since the application of
slurry wall elements in tunnels, bridges, buildings, dams, marine construction,
etc. is so diverse, a single publication cannot cover all the conditions and
codes governing its specifications and usage. It remains the primary responsibility of experienced professionals to provide the appropriate contract documents and use their own judgment in each instance.
The Committee does not anticipate that this publication will cover every project circumstance nor will it replace the importance of local experience. There
are numerous factors that need to be considered on a project-by-project basis
by experienced engineering and construction personnel. Among them are the
actual design parameters, site conditions, subsurface characteristics, groundwater conditions, structure water tightness, site accessibility, available equipment, desired work practices, etc. These factors are discussed and guidelines
are provided in this document.
The history of slurry wall construction will provide some insight into the development of the process used in the United States and worldwide. The names
of many individuals and corporations who contributed to the development of
slurry wall construction have been omitted from this publication in the interest
of brevity. Information obtained from references is cited in the references in
Part V by [reference number]. Figures referenced in the text material are
included in Part IV. Additional resource literature is listed in the bibliography
in Part V. English customary units of measurement are used through this publication; metric conversions in scientific units (SI) and customary kilogram
units are listed in Part IV. Users of this publication are encouraged to contact
DFI with questions and comments.
This and other DFI publications are available from:
The Deep Foundations Institute
326 Lafayette Avenue
Hawthorne, NJ 07506
Tel: (973) 423-4030
Fax: (973 423-4031


Poletto, Raymond J., P.E.

Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers

Bonita, John Ph.D, P.E.

Weidlinger Associates, Inc.

Bruce, Donald A. Ph. D, P.E.

Geosystems, L.P.

Cardoza, Edmund J. Jr.,

Private Consultant

DArgenzio, Domenic, P.E.

Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers

Hosseini, Mamoud, P.E.

Clark Construction Company

Jacobsen, Edward, P.E.

Case Foundation Company

Lager, David E.


Nicholson, Peter J., P.E.

Nicholson Consulting Company

Paniagua Z., Walter I.

Pilotec Cimentaciones Profundas

Ressi di Cervia, Arturo, L., Ph.D

Treviicos Corporation

Schmednecht, Fred C.

Slurry Systems Inc.

Schranz, Gernot

Liebherr Werk Nenzing Gesmbh

Tamaro, George J., P.E.

Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers

Former Contributing Committee Member

Pearlman, Seth, L., P.E.

DGI-Menard, Inc.



Illustration 1: Standard Terms


The term Slurry Wall is commonly used in the United States and refers to the
construction of concrete elements using a slurry fluid to support the sidewalls
of the excavation before the slurry is replaced with tremie concrete and other
structural elements. The terms Diaphragm Wall and Milan Wall are used
elsewhere and refer to the final constructed foundation element. Cutoff Walls
and Slurry Trenches are constructed similarly to structural slurry walls using a
variety of backfill materials, but their purpose is to provide either a water cutoff, environmental barrier or collection system related to groundwater control
or environmental mitigation and are not the subject of this publication.
TERMINOLOGY (See Illustration 1)
A Slurry Wall is a structural foundation element constructed below ground
using a controlled slurry fluid, consisting of a colloidal suspension of either
bentonite, pulverized clays or polymer thoroughly mixed with water, to support
the side walls of an excavation, that is later backfilled with tremie concrete,
which may be reinforced with a steel cage, steel tendons or wires, steel
beams or a precast panel. In practice, the controlled slurry fluid level in the
trench is kept near the ground surface and several feet above the ground
water level. A guide wall is placed on each side of the wall alignment to pro-


vide vertical and horizontal alignment control for the excavation and subsequent support of the tremie equipment and reinforcing elements to be placed
in the excavated unit. The slurry wall is constructed in discrete units, called
panels, which are usually joined at their ends formed by keyed joints from an
extracted end stop shape, or can be prepared by milling along a vertical plane
at the cast end of the panel. Steel beams are often used as joints or connectors between panels. Panel dimensions in plan commonly range between 2 ft.
and 5 ft. in width and between 7 ft. and 25 ft. in length. Panels are excavated in one or more passes with overlapping of excavating buckets or drilling
machines depending on soil/rock conditions and the geometry of the slurry
wall system. Additional definitions of standard slurry wall construction and
equipment terms are provided in Part III.


The origin of the use of colloidal clay slurries to stabilize the sidewalls and bottom of an excavated trench may be traced to the earliest known methods of
sinking deep wells by the Chinese in the Third Century B.C. They learned that
the efficiency of their tools in rock was improved by the addition of water; formations were softened and cuttings were more easily removed with bailing
This practice of pouring water into drilled holes continued through the middle
of the Nineteenth Century when fluid flushing and rotary drilling systems were
developed in France. By the end of the century, the sealing and stabilizing
characteristics of clay and water slurry were identified and put to use in the
developing oil industry in the United States.
In the first thirty years of the Twentieth Century, the properties of drilling fluids
became more and more important as well depths exceeded one mile.
Between 1926 and 1929, bentonite was first used as a suspending and gelling
agent for drilling muds.
The use of slurry to support the sidewalls and bottom of excavated trenches
followed directly from bored pile experience in Europe. Early applications with
slurry walls experimented by using various concrete and plastic concrete
materials to form barriers, called cutoffs, to seal water infiltration through various soil layers. The interlocking of bored piles to form continuous walls (1930
through 1950, in Italy and France) marked the next logical step in the development of slurry wall technology [1].
By 1950, Italian contractors developed methods of excavating elongated panels using percussion drilling equipment and a stabilizing slurry. The technique
was patented and the first cutoff walls were installed at the Santa Maria Dam
near Venafro, Italy.


During the next decades, primarily Italian and French construction firms and
manufacturers developed a variety of equipment for the installation of slurry
walls, using the joined panel technique. The equipment developed for slurry
walls included: mechanical cable-activated and Kelly-guided clamshell buckets, hydraulic activated clamshells, reverse circulation methods with drilling
tools, percussion chisels, churn drills, bentonite slurry mixing and cleaning
units, tremie concreting equipment, jointing systems and devices for monitoring the effectiveness of the technique. Developments in Italy and France
quickly spread to the East and West in the form of license agreements and
exportation of equipment and expertise. Today, contractors continue to evolve
the techniques of the industry and modern hydraulic milling or hydromill
excavators are the current behemoths (monster machines) used in slurry wall
The continuous trenching method of slurry cutoff wall construction developed
in the United States in parallel with the European panel wall approach. In the
mid 1940s, chain-bucket dredgers and dragline machines were busy along
the Mississippi River and on the West Coast excavating long, continuous,
slurry supported trenches, which were backfilled with clay to form cutoff walls
to protect adjacent land and structures from inundation. The improvements in
excavating equipment (deep digging hydraulic excavators) and backfill mix
design (well graded materials with a significant fraction of plastic fine grained
soils) during the last five decades, have lead to the use of the soil backfilled,
continuously excavated slurry trenches, as the most technically effective and
most cost efficient method of seepage control and waste containment in the
United States.
Slurry wall panel type construction is utilized all over the world in construction
of large underground structures. The most dramatic applications and severe
tests of the method have been on dam rehabilitation projects in North
America, where panel walls were carried to depths in excess of 400 feet to a
stricter tolerance than previous construction practice had achieved. The success of these projects must be attributed to the ingenuity of engineers, contractors, equipment manufacturers and slurry experts of today and yesterday.
The first structural slurry wall construction was used in the United States in
1962 on a tunnel project located in Brooklyn, New York City, for a 25 ft. diameter access shaft beneath the East River [2]. It was constructed to a depth of
almost 80 ft. (See Photo 1).

Courtesy of Rodio

Photo 1: First U. S. Structural Slurry Wall project in Brooklyn, NY.

Used Rotary Reverse Circulation Drill to form circular panels.

Shortly thereafter, several building and subway projects in Boston and San
Francisco used the slurry wall method to construct foundations for these structures. After these projects started, a slurry wall was constructed in 1966-1968
on a monumental scale ($10 million) for the basement retaining walls of the
World Trade Center (See Photo 2). Following these trail blazing projects, over
280 additional slurry wall projects have been completed in the United States.
A total of more than 18 million square feet of structural slurry wall has been
installed in the U.S. during the last four decades. The largest single use of
slurry wall construction on a single U.S. project is the Central Artery Tunnel
Project in Boston for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority from 1993 to 2004
(See Photo 3). More than 6 miles or 2,900,000 square feet of structural slurry wall panels have been constructed on this project, costing more than one
third of a billion U.S. dollars.

Courtesy of G. Tamaro, Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers

Photo 2: World Trade Centers slurry wall and excavation phase in 1969.

Information has been gathered on 361 completed projects in the United

States, Canada, Caribbean areas and Mexico. These projects are cataloged
in Part VI, Project List. These projects are alphabetically listed by the above
locations. Many slurry wall projects are concentrated in the District of
Columbia, Boston and New York City and are grouped together. Some projects (e.g. subway sections) are similar in nature and are also combined into a
single group. Six types of project information (slurry wall thickness and depth,
type of wall and excavation support, project size, description and year constructed) are included as the basic data in the summary of structural slurry
wall applications.

Courtesy of Big Dig, Central Artery Tunnel Project

Photo3: Bauer low-headroom hydromill working

on Bostons Central Artery Tunnel Project.


DFI Slurry Wall/Trench Committee Members .............................................ii
Nomenclature Used in Slurry Wall Construction ........................................iii
Related Terms and Construction Methods .................................................iii
Definition of a Slurry Wall and other Standard Terminology ......................iii
History of Slurry Wall Construction ............................................................iv
Tables of Contents....................................................................................viii



1. Classification of Slurry Wall Panels......................................................1

2. Typical Sizes of Slurry Wall Panels ......................................................5
3. Panel Depths ........................................................................................6
4. Equipment.............................................................................................6
5. Slurry Fluids........................................................................................16
6. Phases of Panel Construction ............................................................18

Inspection, Records and Final Condition Observations ....................18

Figures referenced in Part I and Part II are shown in Part IV.






Scope ...............................................................................................21


Contractor Qualifications ..................................................................21


Subsurface Investigation ..................................................................21


Design and Site Considerations.......................................................23


Materials ...........................................................................................25


Slurry Fluids .....................................................................................27


General Submittal Requirements .....................................................27


Preparation for Excavation ...............................................................28


Excavation ........................................................................................29

10. Reinforcement Placement ................................................................31

11. Concrete Placement .........................................................................32
12. Tolerances ........................................................................................34
13. Differing Site Conditions ...................................................................34
14. Completion of the Work ....................................................................35
15. Water Tightness Criteria ...................................................................35
16. Compensation ..................................................................................37


DEFINITIONS ...................................................................38-48




FIGURES ..............................................................................49

Figure 1 - Classification of Panels .....................................................50

Figure 2 - Slurry Wall Panel Configurations.......................................51
Figure 3 - Types of Panel Joints ........................................................52
Figure 4 - Types of Clamshell Buckets ..............................................53
Figure 5 - Slurry Excavation Operations ............................................54
Figure 6 - Cleanup with Sand Separating Unit ..................................55
Figure 7 - Phases of Slurry Wall Construction ...................................56
Figure 8 - Slurry Wall Inspection Report Form...................................57
Figure 9 - Slurry Fluid Test Report Form ...........................................58
Figure 10 - Tremie Concrete Inspection Report Form .......................59
Figure 11 - Major Types of Slurry Wall Construction
and Applications...............................................................60
Figure 12- Typical Guide Wall Construction.......................................61
Figure 13- Guide Wall Constructed in a Prepared Trench.................62
Figure 14- Slurry Wall Tolerances ......................................................63



Bibliography ..............................................................................................65
Metric Conversion Table ...........................................................................69



Slurry Wall List Parameters ......................................................................70

Slurry Wall Projects in North America .................................................71-92




There are many ways to classify structural slurry wall elements, but the DFI
committee chooses to limit these descriptions to three functional requirements, namely: design function, plan configuration and type of panel reinforcement. (See Figure 1 in Part IV for panel classification).
Slurry walls can function as:
1. Curvilinear or linear elements for temporary and/or permanent structures
to resist lateral forces transferred from the ground, water, earthquakes
and various surcharge loads.
2. Load bearing elements in various plan shapes to resist vertical forces.
3. Combination Elements to resist combined forces under conditions 1
and/or 2. For example, elliptical shafts with various openings for tunnels
and conduits have been commonly used for deep excavations.
Slurry walls can be constructed in any plan configuration, solely limited by the
dimensions of the excavation equipment, the type of geology and the practical imagination of the engineer and contractor (See Figure 2 in Part IV).
Slurry walls can be reinforced by the addition of the following structural elements:

Reinforcing steel bars or fiber reinforcing - (Conventional Concrete Panel).

Structural steel beams - (Soldier Pile and Tremie Concrete Panel).
Prestressing steel elements - (Precast Concrete Panel).
Tensioned steel prestressing bars, wire strand or wire elements - (Posttensioned Concrete Panel).

All structural slurry walls use structural concrete comprised of Portland

cement, occasionally fly ash, fine and coarse aggregates, water and concrete
additives that is usually specified in the range of 3000 psi to 5000 psi compressive strength at 28 days.
Slurry wall panels with various reinforcements are illustrated in Figure 1 in
Part IV and are commonly used in United States construction practice. In a
conventional panel, an end stop shape is usually placed to form the joint
between adjacent panels. In some cases, joints can be cut at the end of the
panel by using a rotary grinding or milling tool (hydromill). An unreinforced
concrete panel with formed joints was originally used for water cut-off walls
and sometimes without joints for load bearing elements. Circular shafts and
elliptical shaped cofferdams are examples of slurry wall applications that have
achieved excellent results when properly designed and have allowed the construction of structures without bracing or obstructing any of the work during the

excavation of areas, to 250 feet in diameter and 80 feet in depth. Other slurry wall systems may use different types of joints, which are described, in later
sections depending on their special applications in deep foundations.
When used as part of an earth support system or permanent foundation wall,
a reinforced panel resists the bending moments and shears caused by vertical and lateral loads and is supported by steel, concrete or timber bracing, soil
or rock tiebacks or anchors and/or the floor systems of a structure. A reinforced panel can include a variety of inserts, such as: plates, keys, dowels or
sleeves attached to the reinforcing cage and is often used as the permanent
foundation wall for buildings and underground structures (See Photo 4).

Photo 4: Reinforcing cage with tieback

sleeves and floor keys for conventional panel
construction in Washington DC.

Another type of reinforced panel is a

Soldier Pile and Tremie Concrete Panel,
called SPTC panel. This type of panel
has special applications in open cut
and cut and cover construction where
narrow, long and deep excavations are
temporarily supported laterally with pipe
or beam struts. The cut and cover
SPTC wall was installed in San
Francisco in 1967 for the construction of
the Powell St. subway station of the
BART transit system. This panel wall
Courtesy of The Architect of U.S. Capitol can be constructed by two alternative
methods: pre-drilling and setting beams
(soldier piles) at 6 to 8 foot spacing in advance of the panel excavation or setting beams within an excavated, slurry filled trench. The steel beams can act
as vertical reinforcing and panel joints. Concrete is tremied between the
beams to form a watertight wall system depending on the quality of the panel
installation. If large beam spacing is used, then a reinforcing cage is installed
between the beams to serve as concrete lagging.
Counterfort and corner panels are special T-shaped and L-shaped panels
used for retaining walls and corners of walls. The counterfort panel is highly
adapted to serve as a cantilever wall without bracing or as a thin wall with light
reinforcing that can span large distances with a minimum number of lateral
supports. Both of these types of conventional concrete panels are constructed as a monolithic tremie concrete pour with a single cage to accommodate
the plan layout of the walls.

Courtesy of TREVIICOS Corp.

Photo 5: Precast wall panel installation on railroad construction in


Precast concrete panels are used where a

finished wall with a uniform or architectural
textured face is desired. A precast panel is
inserted into an oversized trench containing
a cement-bentonite (C-B) slurry (See Photo
5). The C-B grout sets shortly after the panel
is aligned vertically and horizontally. In the
precast concrete panel system, a vertical
rubber waterstop, usually a patented system, and C-B grout are installed within the
panel joint. These materials seal the panel
joints and form a watertight system.
Sometimes, an excavation for a precast
panel is made under bentonite slurry. A precast panel is then suspended within the
excavated panel and the panel is grouted at
the bottom to serve as the bearing support
for the panel and as replacement of some of
the slurry. Later, the space between the
trench sidewalls and the concrete may be
backfilled with cement bentonite or other
self-hardening cementitious materials.

Precast concrete panels were initially used in France in the early 1970s, and
are less commonly used in the United States, except where appropriately
skilled labor and large pre-casting facilities are available. The disadvantage of
this system is the inherent difficulty of installing sequential panels in urban
sites, especially where utilities cross the wall alignment. In these cases, the
excavation is stopped and the utilities are relocated before the next panel
excavation can resume. It is difficult to install a precast panel element perfectly within the gap left to allow for a later utility relocation, and as a result the
watertight joint connection between panels may be compromised.
Patented post-tensioned panel systems were developed during the 1970s in
Italy and Great Britain. A post-tensioned panel is constructed in the same
manner as a conventional reinforced concrete panel. However, draped posttensioning tendon ducts are substituted for heavier reinforcing bars (See
Photo 6).

The strands are pulled within the tendon ducts after the concrete sets and
then the steel wire strands are posttensioned and grouted. This system
reduces the quantities of concrete and
steel needed and permits relatively
large distances between brace levels,
thereby minimizing the number of
braces. Post-tensioned panels have
structural bending resistance equivalent to counterfort (T-shaped) panels.
This type of panel is difficult to utilize
with multiple brace and floor levels
because tendons can best be placed
for only one or two levels of support.
Load Bearing Elements are usually
reinforced with structural elements
Courtesy of TREVIICOS Corp.
within the panels in various planimetric
shapes. Round, single or multiple Photo 6: Reinforcing cage with posttensioned strands for panel in Boston
bucket excavations can be used to cre- Central Artery project.
ate I, T, X, H, L, C or Y panel shapes
(See Figure 2 in Part IV). Their primary
function is to support large vertical loads and other applied forces [3].
Structural beams and/or other structural elements can be installed within the
panel to connect to the structural framing system, particularly where top-down
or up-down construction methods are used in a project. This type of panel can
be easily integrated into a monolithic structure by doweling into subsequent
construction. Concrete columns or mat foundations can be directly cast onto
the load-bearing element after unsuitable concrete is removed from the top of
the element. A load bearing element obtains its load capacity from either direct
end bearing on the underlying soil strata and bedrock, through friction/adhesion along the embedded depth of the element or through a combination of
end bearing and friction/adhesion.
Joints between panels are illustrated in Figure 3 in Part IV. The early practice
with conventional panels was to use pipes to form round joints or end stop
panel joints. Later, structural beams were used in the United States with
Soldier Beam and Concrete Lagging Panels. Finally, welded structural steel
shapes and built-up members are also used as panel joints, and are easier to
remove by using either the cranes lifting line or by the closing and opening of
a collar extraction device operated by a hydraulic power unit after tremie concrete is placed in the panel. The optional waterstop within a panel joint has
been rarely used in United States practice because of difficulty in execution.
The construction practice of installing waterstops within panel joints is usually more costly than sealing joints with grout materials.


Panel dimensions and configurations are usually controlled by the technical
elements of the design and the size of the equipment that is available to the
contractor performing the work. It is obvious that the panel thickness and
length can be no thinner or shorter than the width and the length of the excavation bucket. Short panel lengths, usually in the range of 6 to 7 feet, should
be used at areas of unstable soils or where very high surcharge loads result
from adjacant structures. Longer panels, ranging to 30 feet in length, can be
used in stable soils and favorable site conditions. Panel lengths can vary anywhere from 6 feet to 30 feet; however, many panel sizes are dictated by the
location of internal bracing, tieback spacing, interior column layout and locations of adjacent footings.
Walls are commonly 24, 30, 32, 36 and 48 inches (2.0, 2.5, 2.67, 3.0 and 4.0
feet) thick. Thicker walls are available if required for bending and shear resistance or if required to support high vertical loads. Thinner walls are sometimes
used for special conditions, which is discussed in Section 4 of Part I. Typical
slurry wall panel dimensions and other conditions affecting their selection are
indicated in Table 1.


Width or
(Note 1)

Panel Length
Size limitations are dictated by commercially available equipment and site geological
conditions; ground stability, water levels, and proximity to adjacent structures. Consult an
experienced specialty contractor and geotechnical engineer for their recommendations.

Pile &







Note 2

Note 2

Note 2

Note 2

6 to 8

Note 2

Note 2


7 to 25

6 to 10

10 x 10

14 to 25

6 to 8

12 to 20

7 to 25


7 to 25

6 to 10

12 x 12

14 to 25

12 to 20

7 to 25


7 to 25

6 to 10

12 x 12

14 to 25

12 to 20

7 to 25


7 to 20

6 to 10

12 x 12

14 to 25

12 to 20

7 to 25


7 to 20

6 to 10

12 x 12

14 to 20

Note 3

Note 2

7 to 20


7 to 16

Note 4

Note 2

14 to 16

Note 3

Note 2

7 to 20


7 to 12

Note 4

Note 2

14 to 16

Note 3

Note 2

7 to 16

Table 1 Notes:
1. Panels of 12 to 14 thickness have been constructed outside the U.S.
with special hydraulically operated clamshell rigs.
2. Only used under special conditions.
3. Length and width of precast panels are dictated by shipping and handling
4. Special built-up member sizes are required for walls that are more than
40 thick.


A. For Excavation in Relatively Uniform Types of Soil.
1. By conventional light duty, cable-hung clamshell bucket, telescoping Kelly-mounted bucket or drilling machine, depths of approximately 100 ft. can be excavated. Special telescoping Kelly-bars
may reach depths of 165 ft. [4]. Panel depths may reach 300 ft.
using cable-hung, heavy duty clamshell buckets.
2. The industry standard for out of plumbness tolerance is one percent of the depth of the panel excavation. For panel depths in
excess of 100 ft. verticality control is critical for connecting ends
of adjacent panels and tighter tolerances may be required.

B. For Excavation in Layered Soils Mixed with Cobbles, Boulders and

1. Panel depths are generally limited to less than 100 ft. using lightduty clamshell buckets and percussion, auger or star drills into
granular soils or soft rock.
2. Panel depths are generally limited to less than 150 ft. using
heavy-duty clamshell and rotary or percussion drilling equipment
in medium to hard rock.
3. Panel depths are generally limited to 300 ft. for excavation and
drilling with special equipment and excavating with heavy duty
clamshell buckets and chisels.
4. Panel depths as reported by manufacturers literature could be
constructed to 500 ft using hydromills. However, the operation of
this equipment in very dense soils or hard rock can limit the panel
depths because the vertical alignment and the twist must be controlled to properly connect the adjacent panels.
A. Panel Excavation
For the past 50 years, the main excavation tools have been cable-suspended (wire-rope) or Kelly- guided clamshell buckets and percussion
chisels. Either crawler cranes or specialty tripod controls clamshell buckets or quadruped rigs with a winch system. Commonly used in the industry are several styles of mechanical, cable-hung clamshell buckets and
their physical characteristics are shown in Table 2. Tripod rigs were originally used in some projects where limited space was available for excavation equipment. Rotary drilling techniques were developed in the
1950s through the 1970s and used in Japan and Europe throughout this


Nominal Bucket Width
or Wall Thickness

Bucket Bite

Height with
Closed Jaws









6.0 to 9.2

12.3 to 13.5

8 10



7.0 to 13.8

13.8 to 14.7

10 13



7.8 to 13.8

20.5 to 23.9

11 14



7.8 to 11.3

20.5 to 23.9

12 15



7.8 to 13.3

20.5 to 21.5

13 16



10.0 to 11.3

21.0 to 22.9

14 - 19



10.0 to 14.0

23.0 to 25.6

15 22



10.5 to 14.0

24.0 to 26.0

19 28

Table 2 Notes:
1. Typical sizes available from manufacturers and specialty contractors.
2. Mechanical buckets are generally heavier and have a smaller bite and
height than hydraulic buckets.
3. Buckets are available with curved or rectangular jaws.
4. Special bucket sizes can be fabricated for special projects and low
headroom. (Consult manufacturers and specialty contractors.)
1. Clamshell Buckets
The first slurry wall clamshell buckets were free-hanging, two cable buckets operated by two drum winches on tripod rigs or a crane. Buckets are
usually controlled by a crane operator and may have either round jaws or
rectangular jaws. Excavation with round end buckets facilitates the placement of conventional stop end pipe joints. Rectangular jaws are more
appropriate when flat stop end joints or beams are used to form the ends
of panels (see Figures 3 and 4 in Part IV). The jaws can be fitted with different teeth as needed. Most buckets work with 3 teeth on one side and
2 on the other for up to 40 inch thick walls; 4 teeth on one side and 3 on
the other are used for thicker walls.
For a free-hanging excavation bucket, a guiding system is needed to minimize the rotation caused by the lifting and closing cables of the bucket.
To ensure a vertical excavation, the bucket is equipped with a top guide
that is of the same width as the jaws (see Photo 7). The guide also assists
in maintaining vertical alignment and adds weight, which improves the

bucket capability to penetrate denser soils. Operator skill has an important role in the control of the mechanical clamshell bucket and keeping it
vertical during excavation. Swinging the bucket 180 degrees on the cable
regularly during excavation helps to minimize the twist or corkscrew deviations frequently encountered in penetrating denser soils or weathered
Clamshell buckets can be manipulated by adjusting the cranes lifting
cables with one left twist and one right twist to avoid the bucket to drift to
one side. The bucket may be turned at the side of the trench after each
cycle of excavation. Modern winches in crawler cranes allow the operator to rotate the bucket smoothly around the vertical axis. This operation
also improves the verticality of the wall.
Photo 7: Mechanical clamshell

Excavating buckets can also be

attached to a Kelly-bar (See
Figures 4 and 5 in Part IV).
The Kelly can be tubular, telescopic, or a large beam. The
mechanism is operated from a
standard crawler crane by
means of a specially designed
attachment consisting of a
Kelly-bar and a Kelly-guide.
The use of the Kelly-bar
ensures control for the insertion
and removal of the bucket
between and away from the
guide walls, thus increasing the
Courtesy of Liebherr Nenzing Gesmbh
productivity in the excavation
cycle. In addition, the weight of
the Kelly helps the excavating bucket penetrate into the soil. One of the
drawbacks of the Kelly equipment is that for difficult soil conditions, it is
necessary to also use percussion tools to remove cobbles or boulders
and/or to remove weak rock. In those conditions another excavating rig
is usually provided to employ percussion tools.
A Kelly-guided or a free-hanging bucket can also be hydraulically operated. This type of bucket has jaws which can be opened and closed either
by two hydraulic cylinders, one to each jaw, (see Photo 8), or by a single,
larger hydraulic cylinder operating both jaws. The hydraulic lines are
automatically synchronized with single or dual spoil feeds on the Kelly and

Photo 8: Kelly-bar guided

clamshell bucket used in
Washington DC.

Courtesy of Nicholson Construction Corp.

powered by the cranes power or auxiliary hydraulic power pack.

In the last couple of years clamshell bucket sizes have increased in
weight and size. Bucket widths of 48 inches, weighing about 28 tons
empty and 36 feet high, are in current use in Europe for better production
and better verticality. These buckets have interchangeable sets of jaws
and an upper bucket body to suit the range of needed panel widths. Unlike
U.S. practice, some European contractors elected to not use guide walls,
but rely on the cranes controls having gyroscopes and inclinometers to
guide the clamshell equipment and to indicate the depth of excavation and
the twist of the bucket.
Special buckets and crane rigs working up to 16 feet high clearance and
tight quarters have been adapted for specific job conditions and panel
configurations (See Photo 9). Three-jawed buckets have been used for
constructing T-shaped panels. Buckets can have side cutters added to
increase the panel thickness if needed for special conditions. The cost of
this modification is usually greater than the cost of using the next available size bucket. Buckets and rigs need to be modified where excavation
is limited in low-head room conditions, generally less than 20 feet.
Slurry wall buckets are usually fabricated mechanically simple for maintenance and adequately strong to stand up to adverse digging conditions.
Some manufacturers install special seals on bucket sheaves to provide
lubrication for long term usage. Buckets need to be of sturdy construction
in order to be able to act as an opened jaw chisel in dense soil. Buckets
are commonly equipped with different types of teeth to facilitate digging in
variable soil conditions that may contain cobbles, boulders, and widely
varying depths and quality and conditions of rock. The industry opinion is
that clamshell buckets provide more flexibility and adapt more easily for
operating in difficult soil conditions than drilling machines. The standard
tolerance for verticality can be improved to 0.5% with special clamshell

bucket handling techniques. This improvement will affect operations by

slowing down the excavation rate for soil containing cobbles and boulders.
Photo 9: Mini-excavator rig
working on building site in
Mexico City

Courtesy of Pilotec Cimentaciones Profundas

2. Percussion Equipment
When the material to be excavated contains cobbles or boulders or is
bedrock, the panel excavation is advanced using percussion tools. Beam
sections or multiple steel plates can be welded together (four to six starshaped chisel) and hardened at the tip to serve as a heavy percussion
tool (see Photo 10). The chisel can vary from 10 feet to 25 feet long and
weigh 5 tons to 15 tons. The chisel is raised and dropped by a cable on
a crane or by a percussion type rig. When panels are socketed into hard
rock, a percussion rig with a reverse circulation system is usually
employed to pulverize and remove rock material.
Photo 10: Percussion chisel
with 6 hardened bits for
rock excavation.

Courtesy of Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers


3. Drilling and Milling Machines

Rock can also be removed using a rig with multiple rotating drill heads or
roller bits, and reverse circulation of slurry. The reverse circulation
method is used to lift slurry through the hollow drill stem, removing soil
and cuttings to a disposal location. Direct suction or an airlift can be used
to lift the slurry and pulverized materials at the bottom of the drill head.
The soil cuttings and the slurry are separated over a vibrating screen
and/or desanding unit. The drilling fluid is returned to the panel through
the rigs supply line or discharged directly to the trench. An early rotary
drilling machine with reverse circulation is shown in Photo 1 in the introduction section on page vi.
In the early 1950s, European contractors used drilling machines when the
light clamshell buckets available could not remove the soil or when the
excavation had to be carried to depths considerably greater than 100 ft.
As larger crawler cranes and buckets became available in the 1960s, the
reverse circulation drilling method became less economical to utilize on
ordinary slurry wall projects, except for dams where vertical alignment and
drift of slurry wall elements had to be controlled within strict tolerances.
An improvement to this method occurred in Japan in the 1970s when a
special multiple head drilling technique was developed. The rig used submersible drills suspended by a cable rig traveling on a rail system. The
multiple drill bits had a suction pump to continuously remove the cuttings.
One of the disadvantages of this system of excavation was the inability to
remove large cobbles, boulders or rock fragments through the 6-inch
diameter suction hoses.
In the 1970s and 1980s, European equipment manufacturers and contractors improved the reverse circulation drilling method by manufacturing
trench cutter (hydromill) machines. See typical hydromill tool and rig in
Illustration 2. It is possible to excavate trenches for slurry walls with a
hydromill at a greater rate than with clamshell bucket rigs, but usually a
vertical excavation down to 30 to 50 ft is needed to operate the intake
pump at the bottom of the cutters.


Illustration 2: Model FD 32 Casagrande Hydromill [5].

See Table 3 for labeled dimensions.

The general characteristics of commonly used hydromills are given in

Table 3 below. A crawler crane supports and controls this equipment
which consists of a steel frame with a dredge-type mud pump and two
hydraulic drives and cutter wheels mounted on a horizontal axis attached
to its base frame (See Illustration 2 and Photo 11). The drives rotate the
dual wheels in opposite directions. The cutter wheels, commonly
equipped with tungsten carbon tipped teeth, continuously loosen and
break up soil and rock material and mix it with slurry. Removable cutting
teeth, button-type or wedge-type, are usually welded on multiple fins that
are diagonally mounted on the wheels. These teeth are capable of cutting
soft to medium rock up to 10,000 to 15,000 psi compression strength.
The cost of replacing carbide or diamond bit teeth and equipment downtime are usually considered in contractors costs and selection of either
vertical rotary or hydromill drilling machines.

Table 3 - Characteristics of Hydromills [5]

Model No.



Tool Height


Cutter Disk



Bauer Series BC

2.0 to 6.0

9.2, 10.5

30 to 52

27 to 55

0 to 25

5 to 11


Bauer MBC 30

2.0 to 5.0



20 to 25

0 to 30


Bauer CBC 33

2.0 to 6.0


33 to 55

22 to 38

0 to 30


Casagrande K2

2.0 to 3.3




0 to 27



Casagrande K3L

2.0 to 4.0




0 to 31


400 to 500

Casagrande K3C
low headroom

2.2 to 4.0




0 to 31



FD 25

2.0 to 3.3



19 to 30

0. to 27


FD 32

3.0 to 6.0




0 to 19



HF 4000

2.0 to 4.7





400 to 500

HF 12000






400 to 500


2.5 to 4.0





Rodio Urbana
low headroom

2.0 to 4.0

7.9, 9.2




Rodio Latina
low headroom

2.0 to 4.0

7.9, 9.2




The soil and rock cuttings are pumped through the rigs discharge hose to
a slurry treatment plant for separation and return of clean slurry to the
panel. See Illustration 3 for the typical schematic diagram of the operation of a hydromill system. During the hydromill excavation process, the
spoil-laden slurry can be pumped usually up to 1500 ft to the plant. This
distance can be increased with the addition of in-line booster pumps. A
high capacity plant can treat 500 to 1500 yd3 per hour of slurry and separate solids through a series of vibratory screens and cyclones down to a
coarse silt size. Fines can be further removed from the slurry with special
centrifuges in a separate cycle. Slurry storage tanks at the treatment
plant need to have at least twice the volume of the panels to be excavated.


Illustration 3: Hydromill Operations

Guidance systems attached to the hydromill machine permit modest

steering of the cutters. The verticality of hydromill excavation is monitored
with special inclinometers mounted on the cutter frame and connected to
a readout device and recorder inside the crane operators cab. The operator can make adjustments to correct lateral drift and longitudinal plan
deviations by varying the relative speed of the cutters and moving the
interior shield connected to each side of the main frame of the cutter
assembly. Hydromill machines are usually capable of achieving a vertical
tolerance in the range of 0.2% to 0.5% in the longitudinal and lateral direction in most soil conditions without cobbles and boulders. The opinion of
the industry is that soils mixed with cobbles and boulders are the most difficult to excavate with the hydromill equipment and require more stringent
verticality control to achieve design tolerances. This tolerance is more difficult to achieve when variable weathered rock or rock with closely jointed
or fractured zones are encountered.
Hydromill equipment is also fabricated for working in 16 feet or less headroom conditions as seen in Photo 3 on page vii and Photo 12. For limiting
disruption to traffic and area occupants, the desander, slurry treatment
and slurry mixing operations can be set-up fairly distant from the excavation of the panel.


Photo 11: Hydromill (trench cutter) for

construction of slurry walls.

Courtesy of Big Dig, Central Artery Tunnel Project

Photo 12: Low headroom hydromill

trench cutter working Boston.
Courtesy of TREVIICOS Corp.

B. Slurry Mixing and Desanding

1. Proper mixing of bentonite is needed to produce effective dispersion
and uniformity of the bentonite. Colloidal mixers produce the best
possible mixing. Sometimes flash mixers are used. Careful control
and testing of the bentonite slurry must be maintained throughout the
duration of the panel excavation and prior to concrete operations.
Sprinkling or pouring dry bentonite into the trench and relying on the
excavation tool to mix the bentonite will result in lumpy slurry with variable viscosity and filtration properties usually falling outside of desired
2. Bentonite slurries are circulated through a desanding or de-silting
device prior to the placement of concrete in the panel and/or prior to
storage or re-use. Used bentonite slurry is pumped onto a vibrating


screen sand separator unit that allows the screened slurry to pass into
a collection tank (See Figure 6 in Part IV). The collected slurry is then
pumped through a cyclone device to spin the fine sand from the slurry and sometimes through a de-silting unit, and then returned to the
excavated panel or a storage tank. U.S. contractors often provide
their own custom designed units, although high efficiency units are
commercially available throughout the United States and worldwide.
3. Polymer slurries are also used in slurry wall construction and are
mixed in accordance with the manufacturers recommendations. A
conventional mud mixer is generally used to recirculate the slurry suspension prior to its use. Polymer slurries are not desanded since sand
does not stay in suspension during trench excavation, but falls to the
bottom of the panel. Use of modern desanding/desilting equipment
enhances the recycling of the polymer slurry and minimizes the time
needed for sand to settle to the bottom of the excavation.
4. The cleaning of the bottom of the excavation supported by polymer
slurry is dependent on the soil conditions, depth and tools used in
excavation. Mud or sludge may be present at the bottom of the excavation. Generally, a smooth blade excavation bucket is used to
remove the finer materials that settle and an airlift or a submersible
pump is used to extract the mud or sludge.

A. Bentonite slurry is the most common water based slurry used in the
industry. Bentonite slurry is the simplest to mix and maintain and is
sufficiently versatile for use in most geologic formations and ground
water conditions. Bentonite slurry is prepared by mixing about 6 percent of bentonite (clay mineral montmorillonite) by weight with potable
water. The resulting slurry has a viscosity greater than water, possesses the ability to suspend relatively coarse and heavy particles,
and tends to form a thin, low permeable filter cake on the sidewalls of
the excavated trench. Sufficient viscosity and gel strength are important characteristics to transport excavated material to a suitable
screening system. The sand percentage and specific gravity of the
slurry are controlled to maintain the stability of the excavation and to
allow proper tremie concrete placement. Bentonite slurry can be
modified using peptizing agents and/or organic additives.
Bentonite should comply with the American Petroleum Institute (API)
Specification 13A. Information on the chemistry and mechanism of
slurry wall fluid support of the trench and filter cake development is
found in the references in Part IV.


B. Polymer slurries have been developed recently and perform well for
most slurry wall operations. Polymer slurries are becoming increasingly more common in slurry wall construction because of ease of disposal and the tendency of suspended soil particles to settle out in the
panel due to the absence of gel strength. Polymer slurries reduce the
amount of contaminated concrete at the slurry-concrete interface and
result in less entrapped material at the end stop joint between panels.
Because of its low unit weight relative to bentonite slurry, the controlled use of polymer slurry is more critical at locations where there
is a high water table, loose soils and where groundwater chemistry is
uncertain. Some polymer slurries are composed of natural polymers
(guar bean and cellulose materials) and degrade naturally within a
short time. Other polymers are complex chemical elements (vinyl and
synthetic bio-polymers) that are manufactured specially for slurry wall
construction. Polymer slurry can be treated with special agents to
degrade the slurry back to properties similar to water for disposal to
sewer systems, if permitted.
C. Bentonite and polymer slurries are sometimes used together in blended slurry to produce less viscous slurry. This procedure enhances the
stability of the excavation since fines are present to effectively seal
porous soil formations although almost no filter cake is formed. The
bentonite and water are typically mixed and hydrated before the polymer slurry is added. Ratios of blended slurry mixtures vary according
to site-specific demands such as geology and water chemistry.
D. Understanding the chemistry and source of mixing water is an important factor in controlling the properties of the slurry. Brackish and seawater are usually avoided. Potable water supply with limited chlorine
is more commonly used. Water softeners are sometimes added to
potable water sources to limit high acid concentrations and to bring
the water pH to 9.



A. The phases of panel construction differ with the type of wall and the
type of slurry fluid selected. Except for precast walls, panels are generally constructed in an alternating panel sequence (See lower sketch
in Figure 7 in Part IV) in the following steps:

Excavate under slurry fluids,

Clean the excavated panel, and test the slurry,
Install end stops or structural shapes,
Clean end stops of secondary and consecutive panels,
Place reinforcing cages, if required,
Install tremie concrete and remove end stops,
Stress post-tensioning elements, if utilized.

B. For precast concrete panels, the following sequence is usually

employed, that follows a primary and consecutive sequence (See
upper sketch in Figure 7 in Part IV):
1. Excavate under cement bentonite slurry, or with a slurry fluid,
2. When slurry fluid is used, it is replaced by a cement slurry. Grout
may be placed at the bottom of the excavation, if required by
design to support the precast panel and applied loads,
3. Clean ends of previously installed precast panels,
4 Install the precast panel. Waterstops can be installed in groves at
ends of panels and grouted to form a barrier to prevent water
ingress through the panel joint.
5. Remove temporary panel holding devices and clean or trim the
top of the wall.
6. Install waterstops, if provided, and grout panel joints.


A. Inspection
The project owner should contract with a qualified inspector and/or
geotechnical engineer, to inspect the slurry wall installation. The
inspector should have ACI training in concrete testing and reinforcing
placement. See ACI Manual of Concrete Inspection, SP-2 for inspectors duties, records and reports. The inspector should also have
knowledge of slurry testing procedures and adequate geotechnical
experience to properly identify the soil types and rock formations
encountered during panel excavation. The contractor should cooperate with the inspector in the performance of his quality assurance
duties. The presence of the inspector shall in no way relieve the contractor of his obligation to perform the slurry wall installation in accordance with the projects drawings and specifications and with good
construction practice.

B. Records
Accurate detailed records of slurry mixing and its properties in the
excavated panel, materials encountered during excavation, slurry
preparation and mixing, concrete placement and reinforcing cage fabrication or beam installation are essential. The contractor shall keep
independent records of these operations. The contractor should be
fully responsible for quality control of the slurry wall operations. The
inspector shall verify that the contractor is maintaining independent
records. The inspector and contractor should review and reconcile
their records to minimize conflicts. The inspector should keep project
report forms and verify that the work is proceeding as required by the
contract documents following good construction practices. Sample
forms for recording the inspectors observations are included as
Figures 8, 9 and 10 in Part IV and are described below.
The inspectors records should include the following general information on each of the slurry wall panel inspection reports:

Name of contractor
Location on job site
Date of excavation and completion of guidewalls
Panel identification number
Date that panel approval was given
Method of panel construction (conventional, SPTC, precast, etc.)
Buckets, machines and tools that are employed
Weather conditions
Plan and as-built panel dimensions
Ground elevation at guide wall or reference point
Plan and as-built elevation of top of panel
Plan and as-built elevation of the bottom of the panel
Major soil strata encountered, and their elevations
Time and date of beginning and ending of panel excavation
Elevation at which ground water encountered, if any
Time and date of sampling of subgrade and slurry for sand
content and density
Time and date of cleaning of joints of secondary and consecutive
panels, if any
Time and date of beginning and ending tremie concrete
Slurry property test data
Time and date of beginning of reinforcing cage or beam
Concrete slump, pour levels and truck quantities during
tremie operations
Identification of concrete samples within panel
Any unusual occurrences

C. Final Condition Observations

1. When the wall is exposed during general excavation, the inspector
should check the wall against specified tolerances (See Figure 14 in
Part IV). After the wall is exposed and the wall is cleaned, soil and
weak concrete should be removed and protrusions beyond the permitted tolerance should be removed.
2. Keys and inserts should be exposed and prepared for subsequent
use in the final structure.
3. The inspector should check all panel joints or defects to evaluate
whether they are watertight and will not blow at a later stage of construction. Leaks at inserts or through vertical joints must be sealed.
Defective joints or cracks should be chipped out, cleaned and packed
with rapid setting cement grout mixes. Occasionally, it is also necessary to inject chemical or cement grout into the soil directly behind the
wall at the location of the leak, or to grout the panel joint directly.
4. Leaks should be sealed with chemicals or cement grout after the
release of the bracing and tieback system supporting the slurry wall.
A suitable non-shrink mortar patch and reinforcing should be installed
over any abandoned openings or plates in the wall.






These guidelines have been prepared for use in the design and installation of temporary and permanent structural slurry walls using bentonite, mineral clay or polymer slurry trenching methods. These guidelines represent good construction practice in slurry wall construction
in the United States.


Various types of structural slurry walls can be used for temporary and
permanent structures as well as foundation elements. See Figure 11
in Part IV for major applications of slurry wall in foundation and marine
construction. Selection of wall type and reinforcing depends on the
temporary and permanent forces and conditions relevant to the


Slurry walls are the best solution when all of their properties are considered in the design of the structure, namely; when they provide lateral and vertical support, water cut-off and can eliminate underpinning
of adjacent structures.




Slurry walls should only be constructed by companies employing personnel experienced in methods comparable to the specified work.


Experience should be relevant to anticipated subsurface materials,

groundwater conditions, panel sizes, and special techniques required
for slurry fluids and excavation tools.


The contractor should demonstrate to the satisfaction of the owners

representative the availability and dependability of equipment and
techniques to be used on the project.




A thorough geotechnical investigation of the site should be performed

prior to the start of design.


Adequate geologic information should be obtained for design and

construction purposes. The exploratory information may consist of
the following; borings with disturbed or undisturbed methods, representative soil samples and their descriptions, Standard Penetration


(Resistance) Tests (SPT), laboratory tests with grain size distribution

and Atterberg limits, moisture content and density tests, rock core
samples and recovered core barrel piece lengths expressed in percentage of the total core run (RQD) and rock core hardness and
strength, descriptions of rock weathering pattern, orientation of bedding planes, joints, fractures, solution channels insoluble rocks such
as limestone and inclusions. These tests need not be performed for
every project. Information should be sufficiently detailed to delineate
obstructions and variations in soil and rock material properties.

A geotechnical report should be provided to the contractor during the

bidding period.
The three most typically used geotechnical report formats [6] are as

Geotechnical data report (GDR): A compilation of facts, such as

boring logs and laboratory tests, excluding any interpretations.
Geotechnical interpretive report (GIR): The geotechnical engineers interpretation of the data, including profiles of regional
geology and interpretation of site-specific data that may help predict what is likely to be found underground.
Geotechnical baseline report (GBR), sometimes referred to as a
geotechnical design summary report (GDSR): The design engineers interpretation of the anticipated geological conditions and
the expected behavior of the ground during construction This
report establishes baselines, quantified measures of estimated
ground behavior parameters. Such baselines permit bidders to
formulate bids on certain ground conditions, with the understanding that if the actual ground conditions are more or less adverse
than the baseline, the owner will consider modification to the contract under the differing site condition (DSC) clause.


Soil and rock samples collected during subsurface explorations

should be preserved at natural moisture content and arranged so that
they can be readily examined. The samples should be kept at some
central location, such as the owners office.


Groundwater levels should be measured and recorded in borings and

piezometers that may indicate whether natural or artesian water levels are present at the project site.


It is recommended that the owner employ and pay for all geotechnical services required. A conflict of interest could occur if these services are provided and paid for by the contractor.



The contractor should notify the owner if in his opinion the available
geotechnical information is inadequate to bid and to plan the work.


The contractor may perform additional soils exploration to improve his

knowledge of site soil and rock conditions, if permitted by the owner.




There is no single code in the United States that fully applies to slurry wall applications. The designer must therefore select the most
applicable codes and standards, such as American Concrete Institute,
American Institute of Steel Construction, The American Association of
State Highway and Transportation Officials and American Railroad
Engineering Association, ASCE Design Loads on Structures During
Construction, local building codes and project standards. Many of
these codes do not deal with specific regulations for temporary structures. For this reason, the designer should provide the proper guidelines for the contractors upon which to base their bids.


All design should be performed by qualified licensed professional

engineers utilizing contemporary design procedures that are in accordance with good engineering practice. See Bibliography in Part V for
commonly used design references.


Existing utilities and structures should be indicated in contract documents and verified. The presence of pre-existing structures or abandoned utilities should be also identified. Groundwater monitoring is
strongly advised during and after slurry wall construction and general
site excavation.


The design should consider all loads on the wall due to at-rest, active
and passive soil pressures, water and seismic loads and their effect
on soil strength, surcharge effects, loads resulting from connection to
a structure, effects of wall movements during and after construction,
soil mass effecting the global stability of the wall, as well as the effects
of wall support systems such as struts or tiebacks. All design loads
and load combinations should be clearly identified in the computations.


Adequate safety factors should be provided considering the nature of

the load, its duration and the effect of the load on the temporary and
permanent performance of the wall. Reductions in safety factor may
be applied to temporary walls, to combinations of transient loads
[dead load + live load + wind], to loads of infrequent occurrence [flood
or earthquake] in combination with service loads. Safety factors and
load factors should not be compounded, that is, applied to the loads,

then to the structural design of the wall using already factored loads
and then to the support system using already factored wall loads.
Safety and load factors should consider the variability of geotechnical
design parameters, which affect the wall design and support systems.

When Allowable, Load Factor and Ultimate Design Methods are used,
the design should take into account the effects of incompatibility of the
methods, particularly with regard to analysis and the use of safety and
load factors. Increases in the basic allowable stresses should be
applied to bending members and secondary compression members
such as walers. Estimates for deflections of walls should consider
possible uncracked or cracked section properties that result during
staged excavation and should be based on non-factored loads.
Increases in allowable stresses should not be applied to compression
members such as struts.


Structural design of the wall should be in accordance with all current

editions of national and local building codes and relevant sections of
the American Concrete Institute, the American Institute of Steel
Construction, the American Association of State Highway and
Transportation Officials and American Railroad Engineering
Association codes.


Effects of in-plane and normal loads should be considered in the

design of the wall. The combined effect of these loads should not
exceed code limits.


The design layout of slurry wall panels may affect adjacent structures
or utilities. The design shall indicate that special excavation procedures, tools, reduced panel lengths, underpinning, grouting or ground
treatment may be required to protect or limit wall movement near
these structures or utilities.


The design should account for residual stresses resulting from temporary stages of construction and their effect on the serviceability and
long-term performance of the wall.


Compatibility of wall movements should be considered when selecting wall support systems, wall reinforcement and panel jointing methods.


Specially designed details should be provided where loads are to be

transferred across joints.



Construction documents, whether prepared by the consulting engineer or the contractor, should clearly define the scope of the work;
indicating, where relevant, the thickness of the wall; panel lengths; the
location of the wall in plan; dimensions or elevations of the top and
bottom of the wall; size, position and length of reinforcement; position
of all keys and inserts and location and magnitude of temporary support loads.


Specified wall tolerances, finishes and reinforcing cover should consider site geology (i.e. boulders and cobbles) and exposed depths of
walls. See Section 12.0, for tolerances commonly used in the U.S.


Wall monitoring and instrumentation should be utilized to verify wall

design parameters and to record performance of wall systems. During
general site excavation, wall and bracing systems, as well as expected and critical structures adjacent to the site should be carefully monitored and the parties responsible for design and construction should
review and respond to discrepancies in performance.




Concrete should meet the specified minimum compressive strength

(fc) at 28 days, usually between 3000 psi and 5000 psi, at a slump
ranging between 7 and 9 inches. Approved plasticizing agents, fly ash
and/or air entrainment may be used to improve the workability of the
mix. Water to cementitious materials ratio should not exceed 0.6.
Normal low range plasticizers are recommended for producing workable concrete mixes. The use of super-plasticizers in concrete mixes
is discouraged because of the short time of extended slump workability due to temperature changes between the times of concrete placement and when the superplasticizer is added to the mix plant. For
water containment structures or special wall exposures, the water
cement ratio can be adjusted to the standards of the applicable codes
or standards of good practice only if the workability of the mix is not


The aggregates used in the mix should be limited to 3/4-inch to 1-inch

size, well graded, durable and inert, with hard rounded gravel and a
sandier mix preferred.


Concrete should be proportioned, mixed and placed in accordance

with ACI and other relevant codes and recommendations.


Steel reinforcement should consist of new deformed billet steel bars

conforming to the requirements of ASTM A615, Grades 60 and 75 or
rolled steel shapes conforming to the requirements of ASTM GradeA36 (currently not being rolled but may be available), or ASTM A-572,
A-588 or A-992, Grades 50 and 60 or equivalent metric standards.


Reinforcing steel cages should be detailed as simple as possible.

Multi-layers of bars on faces of cages, complicated bends, splices,
cutoffs and grade and size changes should be avoided. Cages should
be securely tied with wire. Welding of interconnecting bars or attachments should be discouraged. The steel cages shall be rigid enough
for lifting during construction and may require additional reinforcing
steel beyond that required for design.


Inserts and keys for walls and floors and grout pipes for post grouting
should be accurately located and tied to the cage. Any pipes or tubes
for geotechnical instrumentation should be attached per manufacturers recommendations. Adequate room for placement of tremie pipes
and minimum clear spacing of adjacent bars to facilitate concrete
placement must be considered in the design and reinforcing cage fabrication. Special threaded bars or crimped bar block-outs should be
considered for more densely packed reinforcing cages. In corrosive
conditions, epoxy coated or galvanized reinforcing bars should be


Provision should be made for field alteration of cages if variations in

panel dimensions are anticipated. Suitable spacers or rollers should
be attached to the cage to maintain the required concrete cover.
Round concrete blocks on steel bar axles, spacers that do not scrape
or dig into soil faces or non-metallic devices are recommended.


Bentonite and other mineral clays should conform to the requirements

of American Petroleum Institute (API) 13A. Chemically treated bentonites may be required to counter the effects of contaminated soil or
ground water. Chemical additives should not be applied to bentonite
slurry at the trench. Chemical additives may be added at the mixing
plant under controlled conditions and to meet clearly defined objectives.


Polymer slurries used for trenching can be specially treated organic

materials or chemical compounds. The specific conditions of the soil
and groundwater regime should be considered with highly acidic and
alkaline conditions avoided. Special slurry handling and disposal procedures should be considered and monitored for the duration of the
wall construction.


Water used in the preparation of bentonite slurry should be neutral,

clean, fresh, and free from oil, alkali, organic matter or other deleterious matter. Monitoring of the groundwater and its chemistry is usually performed when aggressive soil conditions or contaminated ground
water or fluids are found.





Freshly mixed bentonite should have a minimum unit weight of 64

pounds per cubic foot (pcf), measured using the mud balance, minimum viscosity of 32 seconds, measured using the Marsh Funnel; filtrate loss of less than 25 cc using the standard filter press; and pH
between 7 and 11.5. More viscous slurries or plugging agents may be
required where high slurry losses are expected.


In typical wall installations, bentonite slurry properties are adjusted to

have a maximum unit weight of 70 pcf, maximum viscosity of 50 seconds, maximum sand content of 5 percent prior to placement of concrete, all measured 2 feet above the bottom of the panel excavation.
When conditions for conventional work are affected, e.g. panel depth
is significantly deep and/or the volume and rate of the tremie concrete
placement are not sufficient to displace the bentonite slurry, the sand
content of the slurry can be reduced to about 1% to 2% to improve the
horizontal flow of concrete throughout the panel. Similarly, if the panel
is designed for load bearing in soil or rock, the sand content should
be at the lower level and then tested at closer intervals along the
length of the panel.


Polymer slurries should exhibit a maximum unit weight of 64 pcf, viscosity of 40 to 90 seconds, and maximum sand content of 1%, measured 6 inches above the bottom of the panel.


Slurry liquid should be carefully controlled and its properties tested by

a slurry specialist or qualified engineer throughout the duration of the




Shop drawings should be submitted showing guide walls, panel layout, dimensions and numbering scheme, sequence of panel installation, end stop detail, protection of structures and utilities, reinforcing
steel details, location and detail of all inserts and keys or any other
embedded item.


A statement should be submitted indicating methods of monitoring

adjacent structures, trench stability, plumbness and deviation, including corrective measures, if necessary.


Time schedule, equipment schedule and list of specialized personnel

should be submitted.


Detailed description of contractors quality control program should be



Bentonite, mineral clay and polymer slurry mix and manufacturers

test reports for material to be supplied should be submitted.


Concrete mix design should be submitted including name of supplier,

proportions, gradation, and test results of ingredients. Laboratory trial
mixes are recommended, except where local practice has developed
significant experience with available standard mixes.


Engineering calculations, drawings and details of contractors

designed portions of the work should be prepared by a licensed professional engineer experienced in the relevant design and construction. Engineering calculations may be required to evaluate the effect
of staged construction, construction induced loads; and contractor or
field changes affecting the design of the temporary lateral support


Resumes of experienced personnel should be submitted as required,

including information on each type of wall project, employer, supervisory duties held and/or field duties performed, and years of experience.


Contractors slurry wall project summaries should be submitted as

required, including project name, owner, engineer, contact person,
dates and descriptions of walls completed, and a list of projects performed as joint ventures.


Equipment summaries should be submitted as required, including

available mechanical or hydraulic bucket sizes, drills, chisels, operating cranes, slurry storage facilities, mixing and distribution systems
and concreting equipment.




Utilities and structures in the vicinity of the wall should be located, protected, maintained and restored. The surface of adjacent structures
should be covered and protected from the spillage of soil, bentonite or
concrete. All utilities and man-made obstructions within the alignment
of the slurry wall should be removed or capped or relocated as
required. Utility information should be checked with local authorities
and utility companies. Test pits and careful pre-trench work should be
performed where accurate records are not available.


Install continuous, reinforced concrete guide walls to the line and

grade of the finished wall providing sufficient clearance between
guide walls to permit passage of the excavation tool. See Figure 12 in
Part IV for typical guide wall construction details. Provide temporary

guide wall bracing to maintain correct position and clearance during

excavation. The guide walls should be carried down to the level of the
lowest adjacent utility or structure. The location of panel joints should
be clearly marked on the guide walls.

Top of guide walls should be set a minimum 5 feet above the highest
anticipated natural groundwater level. A stockpile of material should
be provided to backfill the excavation in the event of flooding or an
unanticipated rise in the groundwater level.


Guide walls should be founded on suitable soil for bearing purposes.

In some circumstances, the bearing layer may not be suitable for the
support of the guide walls. Some contractors prefer to prepare a lean
concrete fill as the founding subgrade for the guide walls (See Figure
13 in Part IV).
Note: Information obtained from references [7, 8, 9 and 10] has been
used extensively in Sections 9.0 through 15.0.




Excavation equipment contractor should be provided that is capable

of removing all soil, fill and rock materials encountered within the
alignment of the wall. Man-made obstructions are typically removed
in the pre-trenching process prior to constructing the guide walls.
Clamming, drilling, scraping and grinding methods may be employed
subject to environmental constraints such as spillages, excess noise
and vibration.


Excavation should be conducted in a continuous manner to the

required lines and grades with a minimum of two unexcavated panels,
usually a minimum of 30 to 40 feet, or one concreted panel usually 15
to 20 feet separating any open panels. Excavation should not be performed adjacent to concrete placed within the preceding 24 hours,
except where necessary to remove stuck stop end devices.


Sufficient survey control should be provided to assure that the panel

excavation conforms to the required alignment and tolerances for verticality and position. The contractor should measure verticality and
horizontal position at regular intervals approximately 15 to 20 feet
apart. Wires connected to the teeth or side lugs of the clamshell buckets or built-in slope inclinometers within specially fabricated buckets
tied to the operators controls can be used to judge the clamshell
buckets position, referenced to the guide walls. Also, electronic readout and control devices in the cranes cab can be used to determine
the correct alignment and prevent corkscrewing as the excavation

proceeds downward. More precise measurements, using sonic

devices or spiders, can provide a profile of the faces of the panel after
the excavation is completed. These measurements can verify the
minimum wall thickness and clearance to install reinforcing, beams
and end stops. In deep excavations, verticality is critical to the effective connection of adjacent panels. In thin wall applications with deep
panels, the verticality tolerance of the excavation may be restricted to
0.5 percent or less depending on design requirements.

Wall embedment (socket) in suitable bearing soil or rock should be

verified in the presence of the inspector. Soil or rock samples may be
required at closer intervals where change of geotechnical formations,
anomalies or large boulders is encountered to verify that proper sockets are achieved. All sockets should be verified and the bottom of the
panel thoroughly leveled and cleaned prior to placement of reinforcing and concrete. The use of toothless buckets, specially designed
pumps and airlifts are generally used for cleaning sockets.


Panel depths should be measured at the start of each day to check if

cave-ins occurred overnight. Final panel depths should be verified at
short spacing along the bottom of the panels to ensure that structural
elements will be installed properly. The inspector should verify the
bottom of the panel by using a weighted line or rod to ensure that no
sand residue or rock fragments is at the bottom of the panel.


Bentonite slurry should be provided in a continuous manner in order

to assure that the excavated trench is always full to within 2 feet of the
top of the guide walls. A sufficient supply of bentonite slurry or backfill should be maintained to assure trench stability in the event of
unanticipated losses of slurry. Bentonite slurry should be constantly
monitored to assure that the slurry conforms to specification requirements and will perform its intended function and excavation does not
result in danger to adjacent structures and utilities.


Fresh mineral slurries should be mixed with suitable colloidal mixers.

Water for mineral slurries shall be potable and free of deleterious
chemical substances, which can affect the slurry properties. Slurries
should be stored in lined ponds or storage tanks to permit proper
hydration. The contractor should establish a quality control laboratory
on site to perform periodic testing to assure the slurry is suitable for
its intended purpose.


Freshly stored slurries should be tested for density, viscosity, filtration

and pH. The slurry in the excavated panels should be tested daily for
specific gravity, viscosity and, near the bottom of the panel, for sand
content. See Figure 9 in Part IV for a typical Slurry Fluid Test Report


Proper cleaning of the slurry in non-contaminated ground will permit

multiple re-uses. Contaminated ground, calcium from tremie concrete
operations, or poor cleaning can affect the slurry properties, requiring
the early disposal of slurry. The contractor should carefully control,
monitor and isolate the slurry from multiple uses in various panels.


A slurry sampling tool with a special bottom entry only flap should be
used to take slurry samples from the bottom and mid-height of the
excavation at any time to ensure that accumulated materials or sludge
like material does not affect the excavation and tremie concrete operations.


Polymer slurry should be maintained and monitored in a continuous

manner similar to bentonite slurry, except that filter cake will not develop on the trench walls. The collection of solids at the bottom of the
panel should be made with a toothless clamshell bucket. Chemical
treatment may be needed for special polymer slurries.


Excavation spoils and waste bentonite should be disposed of in an

environmentally sound manner.




The slurry fluid should be tested, modified and cleaned as necessary

and the bottom and sides of the panel should be measured and
cleaned prior to the placement of stop end devices and the reinforcement. Reinforcement (steel rebar cages and/or structural beams)
should be placed as soon as possible after cleaning of bottom of the
panel, or not more than 3 hours after testing of the slurry fluid for sand
content and sedimentation.


End stop devices in primary and consecutive panels should be

securely fastened in position and the cage, beam, and panel dimensions verified prior to lifting and installing the cage. All loose rust, oil
or other deleterious material should be removed from the reinforcement.


Structural beams and reinforcing bar cages, if required, are usually

fabricated on site, on the ground for installation within the panel. The
cage is fabricated by connecting individual bars with tie wire, chairs
and spacers. Blocks, rollers or other devices are added to provide the
concrete cover as needed. The location of the tremie pipe(s) should
be considered and rebar placed clear of the tremie pipe locations.
Welding of rebar is usually discouraged. Beams are usually fabricat-


ed and stiffened by frames located within the panel. The frames

should permit the free flow of the tremie concrete, but still maintain the
position of the vertical beams. The beams are inserted into the panel
and the cage is then hung from the guide walls. The contractor should
provide additional stiffening elements within the panel for lifting the
cage upright and tying block outs, instrumentation attachments, floor
and wall keys, tieback trumpets and bearing plates, etc.

Sufficient slings, lines and equipment should be provided to prevent

permanent distortion of the cage. The cage should be supported from
the guide walls in correct position and 6 inches clear of the bottom.
Local trimming, cutting, narrowing and other modification of the cage,
which may be required to accommodate misalignment of the excavation, should not be done without the approval of the engineer.
Repositioning or retying of loose bars, inserts, keys and other devices
may be required during lowering of the reinforcement.




Prior to concreting the previous cast joint of secondary and consecutive panels should be scarified and carefully cleaned. Concrete
should be placed shortly after testing for sand content and within 3
hours of placement of the reinforcement or 24 hours after cleaning the
excavation. If a delay occurs, then slurry should be retested to meet
the test limits or the slurry replaced. Once started, concrete placement should proceed continuously until uncontaminated concrete has
reached the required top of wall elevation. Detailed records of the
quantity, quality and rise of concrete in the panel should be maintained. Adequate equipment should be provided to assure an uninterrupted supply and placement of concrete, even in the event of equipment breakdown.


The contractor should ensure that the rise of the concrete is fairly uniform along the top of the rising concrete and that blockage of the
tremie pipe does not occur. See Figure 10 in Part IV for a typical
Tremie Concrete Inspection Report Form. Concrete shall be placed
by tremie methods in such a manner that the concrete displaces the
slurry progressively from the bottom and rises uniformly to the surface, such that intermixing of the concrete and slurry will not occur. If
a go-devil or plug is provided to minimize the initial mixing of concrete and slurry, care should be taken that it not be entrapped in the
concrete or otherwise cause a defect in the concrete.


The contractor should control concrete placement by truck deliveries,

pumping and by more careful control using two tremie pipes for standard panels, except SPTC panels (See Photo 13). For SPTC panels,

a tremie pipe should be provided for each beam element where multiple soldier piles are used to form a panel. The use of the go devil
or starter plug, is usually not employed with tremie concrete placement. The contractor should revise his procedures if cold joints develop or if intermixing of concrete and slurry occurs. The use of a superplasticizer in concrete mixes has potential problems, limiting the period of desired slump and concrete placement within the tremie pipes.
This placement should be carefully monitored and controlled.
Concrete mixes furnished by suppliers should be suitable for the contractors placement methods. The contractor is responsible for any
defects within the panel that may occur during concrete placement.

The tremie pipe should be 8 to 10 inches in diameter and shall be

embedded a minimum of 5 feet and a maximum of 15 feet into fresh
concrete. Surging of the pipe may be required during placement.
Care should be taken to assure that the pipe is always embedded in
fresh concrete and that loss of the tremie seal does not occur and
result in a cold joint.


Where two tremie pipes are used, care should be taken to assure that
both pipes are always of equal length, that a sufficient number of
trucks is always available to charge both tremie hoppers uniformly
and that the concrete level at each pipe is essentially level. The use
of more than two tremie pipes should be discouraged for standard
panels, except SPTC panels.
Photo 13: Tremie concrete
placement operations in
Washington DC.

Courtesy of the Architect of U.S. Capitol


End stop devices should be withdrawn in a smooth and continuous

operation after the initial set of the concrete. The contractor and the
inspector should determine the suitable rate of withdrawal by checking set times of sequential batches of concrete selected from delivery
trucks. In some instances when using laterally extractable end stops,
the end stop removal sequence may be different.



Extra concrete cylinders may be taken during placement so that

unusual conditions or suspected samples with low strength concrete
breaks could be checked at a later time. Concrete cylinders should
be protected from freezing and from vibration during their transport to
the lab.


Concrete strength, if disputed, can be verified by coring and testing

concrete from the wall at a later time.




Panel joints should be within 6 inches of the correct position and within 1% of vertical if not specified otherwise.


The overall out-of-plumb tolerance of the reinforcing cage and

attached assemblies perpendicular to the plane of the wall should not
exceed 1% of the depth of the wall at the depth measured and 3 inches in any direction in the plane of the wall. See Figure 14 in Part IV
for standard tolerances. More rigorous verticality requirements of up
to 0.5% may be required to assure proper overlap of panels in deep
walls. The use of clamshell buckets or hydromill excavators in variable soil or rock conditions should be properly controlled to meet such
stringent tolerance. In rare instances for dam construction, verticality
has been controlled with special equipment to 0.2% verticality.


The minimum concrete cover should be 3 inches. An additional tolerance of 3 inches beyond the minimum concrete cover should be limited to areas not critical at the exposed surface of the wall.


Construction accuracy and wall finishes depend on site soils, equipment used and the skill of the contractor. Tolerances may be relaxed
or walls set farther from neat lines where walls are constructed
through loose, bouldery soils or fills consisting of piling, timbers, demolition or other loose debris, or where walls are temporary and are sufficiently clear of permanent construction.



In the absence of a contract clause for differing site or changed conditions, the following procedures are recommended when conditions
are encountered in the performance of the work which differs from
those indicated by contract documents (including the geotechnical
report) or ordinarily recognized as inherent in work as described in the



A written notice to the appropriate owners representative should be

given promptly when encountering these conditions.


An equitable adjustment and time extension notice should be discussed with all parties to cover the resulting extra unanticipated
scope, change in schedule and associated costs.




All loose bentonite, soil and laitance should be removed from the top
and face of the wall. Top of wall shall be trimmed to finished elevations. Embedded water stops at the top of walls are usually difficult
to execute and are not recommended. Keyways for extension of the
wall should be carefully cut into sound concrete and waterstops properly installed.


All leaks should be sealed or patched in order to provide for the

required watertight wall.


Misalignments, bulges, protrusions and cavities should be brought

into conformance with the required tolerances and should be


All existing structures and utilities should be restored to their preconstruction condition.


Collect and secure all construction records relating to bentonite slurry quality, excavation, reinforcement, concreting and repairs.


Contaminated and excess bentonite slurry and excavation spoil

should be removed to an offsite location in a safe, lawful manner. Onsite disposal may be permitted upon receipt of relevant owner or local
authority approvals.




There has been continuing improvement in the quality of slurry wall

construction, however, there is a common misconception amongst
specialist contractors, owners, designers and project managers as to
the degree of watertightness that can be expected. The construction
industry and interested parties acknowledge the difficulty of producing
slurry walls that dont leak, or have minimal seepage, however, there
is no industry wide acceptance criterion for the water tightness of slurry wall systems. Project documents usually require that the slurry wall
system not leak, show running water and/or contain material inclu35

sions or defects in panels and joints. Clearly, the specialist contractor

should address these problems if they occur. Running water on the
surface of the wall, at joints or at inserts in a panel, is not acceptable,
however, a slurry wall may exhibit patches of moisture, [like beads of
sweat] and still be considered impermeable or watertight.

The watertight quality of slurry walls can be affected by cracks and

movement at panel joints that form due to structural deflections and/or
differences between panel support conditions, by floor openings,
embedded tieback anchors and internal waling within the slurry wall.
Even fairly thick concrete slurry walls allow some transmission of
water, although the amount of water is relatively low in shallow
aquifers and low permeability soil conditions. A simple calculation
using Darcys Law of water passing through a 2-foot thick, fairly dense
and homogeneous concrete wall with a 30 foot head of water would
indicate a flow of 0.5 gallons per 10,000 sq. ft. of wall per 24 hours.


There is no standard industry criterion on how to minimize moisture

and dampness in underground structures. Some building basements,
parking structures, mechanical and electrical rooms, subways and
other tunnels can sometimes tolerate moisture or dampness.
Sensitive below grade uses, such as habitable spaces, medical, food,
and computer or document storage do not permit dampness or moisture and exceptionally dry environments are desired. It is questionable whether or not it is necessary to have the highest degree of water
tightness specified for all slurry wall structures.


If required for the proper functioning of the underground space for the
service conditions, there are six ways to achieve the highest possible
level of water tightness. They include:
1. Watertight concrete construction relying on well thought out
designs and the highest quality of slurry wall construction.
2. Sealing all panel joints and fixing faulty construction adequately
after temporary bracing has been removed, and the slurry wall
and structure has stabilized.
3. The use of liner walls cast against the slurry wall.
4. Cavity wall construction with provisions for drainage, sumps and
5. The application of interior waterproofing using membranes or
spray on waterproofing applied after the walls have been repaired
and sealed.
6. The use of water stops cast into the panel joints and other connections exposed to water.



While it can be debated as to the need for the use of the above methods, there is no straightforward way to estimate the quantity of water,
dampness or moisture that is acceptable. The design and expected
slurry wall water tightness should be carefully planned and presented
in the contract documents so as to avoid construction disputes and litigation.




Payment is usually made on a unit price basis, as measured by

square feet of vertical wall face. This measurement should include the
actual area between the top of (sound) wall and the bottom of wall
indicated on the drawings, or as directed by the engineer. Plan measurement should be made along the centerline of the wall.
Measurement of the bottom of the wall depths is made by (rigid) rods
or sounding devices at 2 feet intervals. No payment should be made
for walls installed beyond these limits. Payment usually includes all
compensation for furnishing materials, labor, equipment, tools and
incidentals required to complete the work. The contract price should
also include all panel excavation, watertight joints, reinforcing steel
bars, supply of embedded items, tremie concrete, guide wall construction and removal, supply, handling and disposal of slurry fluids,
hauling of excavation materials, trimming of the top of the wall,
removal of unsound concrete, removal of bulges or projections, and
sealing or grouting of the wall for watertightness.


Payment for the slurry wall should be made against pay units established in the contract. Separate pay units may be established for
removal of rock, boulders or obstructions, concrete overruns, slurry
losses, reinforcing steel, inserts or embedded items, guide wall installation and slurry disposal. Absent such provision, no separate payment should be made.


As much as ten percent of the slurry wall contract price is often

retained until the wall is fully exposed and found to be in conformance
with contract requirements. Unexposed slurry cutoff walls may have
another criteria for retaining payment (e.g. measurement of specific
performance provisions, permeability or movement) as required by
project provisions.


Confirmatory soil borings or rock cores, when required by the contract, should be paid on a unit price basis per linear foot and unit price
for each soil sample or rock core drilled.




ACI: American Concrete Institute.
Airlift: Device for lifting slurry, suspended solids and drill cuttings from the bottom of a bentonite or polymer slurry filled trench. Usually, compressed air is
introduced into the slurry at the bottom of the trench using a small pipe inside
of a larger pipe. This upward flow tends to lift material from the bottom of the
API: American Petroleum Institute
API Spec. 13A: API Specification for Oil Well Drilling-Fluid Materials.
API Spec. 13B: API Recommended Practice, Standard Procedure for Testing
Drilling Fluids.
ASTM: American Society for Testing and Materials.
Auger Drill: Helical device used to scrape, grind and/or dig into soil and rock.

Barrette: See Load-Bearing Element.
Bentonite: Montmorillonite clay containing sodium cations formed primarily
by in-place alteration of silicate rocks of volcanic origin.
Bentonite Slurry: Mixture of bentonite and water.
Berm: Sloping surface of soil providing lateral support to wall.
Blockout: Device to form recess in wall.
Bond: Adhesion of concrete to reinforcing steel.
Brace: Linear structural element used to provide lateral support to the wall,
positioned perpendicular or at an angle to the wall.
Brace Plate: Steel plate embedded in wall to receive brace and transfer load
from wall to brace.


Cable-hung Clamshell Bucket: Excavation bucket operated by cables.
Cage: Network of interconnected reinforcing steel bars.
Cake: See Filter Cake.
cc: Cubic centimeter. Metric unit of volume.
Cement Bentonite: Low strength mixture of cement, bentonite and water,
which hardens with time.
Cement Grout: High strength mixture of cement and water, which hardens
with time.
Chisel: Heavy steel tool used to soften or fracture rock or obstructions.
Clamshell Bucket: A mechanical bucket operated by two cables from a crane
or rig. In some cases hydraulic cylinders may be used on other types of buckets. Spoil is removed from the bucket by swinging it to one side of the trench
and releasing the closing lines of the bucket.
Chemical Grout: Mixture of chemical compounds, which become more viscous and/or harden with time.
Churn Drill: Fixed boom-drilling machine, which raises and drops a chisel
used for rock excavation.
Closed Specification: Specification, which describes the end product and
how it is to be achieved. Usually, used for permanent walls.
Cofferdam: Excavation support system. Usually, used to inhibit the entry of
Cold Joint: Discontinuity in concrete caused by a disruption in the placement
of tremie concrete.
Concrete Cover: Distance from closest reinforcing bar surface to the face of
the wall surface.
Consecutive Panel: Panel cast with one end against a previously cast panel.
Corner Panel: Panel, not linear in plan, used to accomplish change in direction of wall.


Conventional Panel: Panel cast with one or two end stops, except for SPTC
and precast panels.
Cutoff Wall: Non-structural wall used to inhibit the movement of water.
Cyclone: Centrifugal device used to remove fine soil particles suspended in
bentonite slurry.

Desander: Device used to remove sand and silt particles suspended in bentonite slurry.
Design Drawing: Drawing prepared to show intent of the work. Drawing is not
sufficiently detailed to permit construction.
Diaphragm Wall: See Slurry Wall.
Direct Circulation Drill: Hollow stem chisel with provision for application of
bentonite slurry under pressure at the head of the drill in order to remove drill
Dowel: Reinforcing steel bar projecting from the top or face of the wall intended for connection of reinforcement or concrete at a later time.
Drainage Chase: Space provided between slurry wall and interior finish wall
for collection of seepage from slurry wall.

End Pipe: See End Stop.
End Stop: Round pipe or shaped device placed at ends of panel excavation
prior to placement of concrete and withdrawn from excavation after concrete
has set, providing smooth surface at ends of panel.
End Stop Extractor: Device to withdraw end stop after concrete has
achieved initial set.


Filter Cake: Thin layer of hydrated bentonite gel, which forms on the soil face
of the excavation.
Filter Press: Device used to measure the filtration and filter cake development of bentonite slurry.
Filtrate Loss: Water loss from bentonite slurry applied under pressure against
a filter.
Flocculation: Condition where dispersed clay particles form agglomerates or

Go Devil: Device placed in tremie pipe prior to placement of concrete into
pipe. Device is intended to prevent concrete from mixing with bentonite slurry
during initial placement of concrete.
Grab: See Clamshell bucket.
Grout: A mixture of cement and water or sand and chemicals, used for filling
voids. It is typically made for pumping under pressure.
Gel: Semi-rigid colloidal suspension of a solid in a liquid.
Guide Walls: Shallow concrete walls placed on either side of the alignment of
the slurry wall to provide vertical and horizontal alignment control for the excavation and subsequent support of the reinforcing steel cage and/or other elements to be placed in the trench.

Hydraulic Clamshell Bucket: Excavation bucket operated hydraulically.
Hydromill Excavator: Reverse circulation drilling/grinding machine operated
by hydraulic drives to rotate cutter wheels on a horizontal axis. The spoil is
removed by a submersible pump within the framework of the machine.
Hydrofraise: See Hydromill Excavator


Insert: Any device intended to be permanently embedded in the wall.
Instrumentation: Any device intended to measure the performance of the
Internal Waler: Reinforcing steel embedded in the wall to provide bending
resistance between points of lateral support.

Joint: Discontinuity between panels usually formed by end stops or embedded structural shapes.

Kelly-Bar: Vertical shaft used to transfer torque from a power unit to a rotary
type drill, or to raise and lower a clamshell bucket.
Key: A recess in the wall intended to receive a wall or floor slab.

Laitance: Contaminated concrete which forms at the top of the tremie concrete as a result of the mixing of concrete and the bentonite slurry.
Lean Concrete: Low strength concrete usually intended as backfill in situations where the material will be subsequently removed.
Lifting Sling: Cable device used to lift reinforcing steel cages with minimal
Liner Wall: Interior finish wall placed in contact with or separated from the
slurry wall.
Load Bearing Element: Element constructed in various plan configurations
and intended to primarily carry vertical loads.


Man-made Obstruction: Any below ground man-made object, such as concrete, timber, building rubble, abandoned utilities, which cannot be easily
removed by clamshell bucket. It requires removal by chiseling, grappling or
the use of special mechanical devices.
Marsh Cone: See Marsh Funnel.
Marsh Funnel: Cone shaped funnel used to indirectly measure bentonite slurry viscosity by measuring the time of passage of a quart of slurry through a
specified opening size.
Milan Method: See Top Down Method.
Milling Machine: A reverse circulation, rotating, grinding device used to excavate hard ground or soft rock. See Hydromill Excavator.
Mixing Plant: Combination of mechanical devices used to mix, store, clean
and/or distribute bentonite slurry.
Montmorillonite: A principal clay mineral group. A hydrous aluminum silicate
characterized by a crystalline structure of layers or thin sheets. This is the
main ingredient of bentonite clay.
Mud Balance: Scale device used to measure unit weight, specific gravity or
density of slurry.

Over-break: The difference between the actual amount of concrete placed
and the neat theoretical volume. Usually expressed as a percentage.
Over-pour: The extra amount of concrete placed in a panel beyond the theoretical panel volume.

Panel: Section of a slurry wall that is concreted as a single unit. The panel
may be linear, T-shaped, L-shaped, or other plan configuration.
pcf: Pounds per square foot. Imperial unit of pressure.


Pipe Sleeve: Insert in wall intended to permit the passage of a pipe through
the wall.
Pipe Extractor: See End Stop Extractor.
pH: Measure of the alkalinity or acidity of a liquid using a numeric scale set
with 7.0 as neutral, less than 7.0 indicating acidity and greater than 7.0 indicating alkalinity.
Plastic Concrete: Concrete consisting of cement, bentonite, aggregates,
additives and water intended to provide minimal strength, a low modulus of
elasticity and high strain prior to failure.
Pony Beam: Short waler beam placed across a panel joint intended to support two panels from one point of lateral support.
Porcupine Plate: Steel plate provided with numerous steel studs, straps or
bars welded to the plate intended to be embedded in the wall to provide shear
or tensile capacity to a connection to the wall.
Post-tensioned Wall: Wall, which derives its primary strength by the application of longitudinal compression force by tensioning high strength strands
embedded in the wall after the concrete hardens.
Precast Wall: Wall constructed by insertion and positioning of precast concrete panels into a self-hardening slurry.
Preload: Application to the wall of all or part of a predetermined brace or
anchor support load.
Pre-stress: See Preload.
Primary Panel: Panel constructed with end forming devices at both ends.
psi: Pounds per square inch. Imperial unit of pressure.

Raker: Sloping brace, which provides lateral support to a wall by transferring
forces against a footing or other structural element within the excavation.
Reinforced Concrete Wall: Wall whose primary strength is derived from a
reinforcing steel cage.


Reinforcement: Addition of steel to the concrete to provide tensile or bending

Reverse Circulation: Method of removing excavation spoil by airlift or pump
and pipe.
Reverse Circulation Drill: Hollow stem chisel with provision to draw bentonite slurry and drill cuttings up the stem during drilling.
Rotary Drill: Rotary grinding and cutting device primarily used to fracture or
soften rock.

Sand Cone: Calibrated device used to measure percentage of sand by volume suspended in slurry.
Sand Content: Percentage of sand by volume suspended in a slurry fluid.
Secondary Panel: Panel cast against previously concreted panels.
Shoulder Pipe: See End Pipe.
Shop Drawing: Detailed drawing expanding on information shown on design
drawing. Work can be constructed from this drawing.
Shotcrete: mixture of cement, aggregates, additives and water applied under
pressure by a spray technique.
Slope Indicator Tube: Pipe device installed vertically in the wall or adjacent
ground used to guide a slope-measuring device (inclinometer), which measures wall or ground movement.
Slump: Measure of workability of fresh concrete.
Slurry: A mixture of water and clay (bentonite or mineral clay) or polymer in
colloidal suspension.
Slurry Specialist: Individual trained and experienced in the mixing, cleaning
and use of bentonite slurries as well as all operations necessary to properly
construct a slurry wall.
Slurry Trench: An excavation filled with bentonite slurry. Also, a trench backfilled with blended impervious soils or cement bentonite.


Slurry Wall: Concrete wall constructed below ground using slurry to support
the sidewalls of the excavation.
Socket: Embedment of the wall into a bearing and/or impervious strata.
Soldier Beam: A steel beam or pile section installed vertically into the wall to
act as an end stop device or structural reinforcing for a panel. Also, called a
Soldier Pile.
Soldier Beam and Tremie Concrete Panel: A type of reinforced panel with
beam sections installed vertically into the wall. Also, called SPTC type of
wall panel.
Spacer: Device attached to the face of the cage to position the cage in the
excavation and provide the required concrete cover.
Specific Gravity: Ratio of weight of a unit volume of bentonite slurry to a unit
volume of water.
Stabilizing Fluid: Slurry used to support the sidewalls of a slurry trench excavation.
Starter Walls: See Guide Walls.
Steel Beam and Concrete Lagging Wall: Wall whose primary strength is
derived from vertical steel beams at ends of panel, which serve as stop ends
and waterstops. Also, called SPTC panel wall.
Stop End Joint: See End Pipe.
Strut: See Brace.

Temporary Wall: Wall used primarily to provide soil and water retention during construction and not utilized in the permanent construction.
Thixotropy: The property exhibited by a slurry gel that becomes viscous
when undisturbed and loses viscosity when stirred or agitated.
Tieback: Anchor used to lateral support for a slurry wall panel.
Tieback Sleeve: See Tieback Trumpet.


Tieback Trumpet: Device cast into the wall intended to permit the installation
of a tieback through the wall and the transfer of the tieback load to the wall.
Tolerance: Allowed variation from the design location of the wall.
Top-down Method: Method of constructing a structure from grade downward,
constructing the roof and/or floor slabs of the structure in stages with excavation proceeding below the slabs. The slabs provide both temporary and permanent lateral support of the wall.
Tremie Concrete: Concrete placed by the tremie method.
Tremie Method: Utilizes the displacement of a fluid by placement of concrete
through one or more supply pipes, which is kept immersed in fresh concrete
so that the rising concrete from the bottom displaces the fluid without washing
out the cement content.
Tremie Pipe: Pipe through which tremie concrete is lowered to the bottom of
the slurry filled panel.
Tremie Plug: Device placed at the bottom of the tremie pipe intended to minimize mixing of the concrete and slurry at the start of the concrete operation.
Trench Cutter: See Hydromill Excavator.

Under the Roof method: See Top-down Method.
Updown Method: Use of the top-down method to excavate the basement
while simultaneously constructing the superstructure.

Viscosity: Measure of shear strength of a liquid.


Wale: Structural member installed at the face of the wall to transfer loads from
the wall to braces.
Water to Cementitious Materials Ratio: The ratio of the weight of mix water
to the weight of cementitious elements (cement and fly ash).
Watertight Wall: Wall exhibiting a surface free of running water. Patches of
moisture or beads of water [like beads of sweat] may be evident, but free flowing water is not present throughout the wall surface.




Figure 1 - Classification of Panels ..........................................................50

Figure 2 - Slurry Wall Panel Configurations ...........................................51
Figure 3 - Types of Panel Joints .............................................................52
Figure 4 - Types of Clamshell Buckets ...................................................53
Figure 5 - Slurry Excavation Operations.................................................54
Figure 6 - Cleanup with Sand Separating Unit .......................................55
Figure 7 - Phases of Slurry Wall Construction........................................56
Figure 8 - Slurry Wall Inspection Report Form .......................................57
Figure 9 - Slurry Fluid Test Report Form ................................................58
Figure 10 - Tremie Concrete Inspection Report Form............................59
Figure 11 - Major Types of Slurry Wall Construction and Applications...60
Figure 12 - Typical Guide Wall Construction ..........................................61
Figure 13 - Guide Wall Constructed in a Prepared Trench ....................62
Figure 14 - Slurry Wall Tolerances..........................................................63


Figure 1: Classification of Panels


Figure 2: Slurry Wall Panel Configurations


Figure 3: Types of Panel Joints


Figure 4: Types of Clamshell Buckets


Figure 5: Slurry Excavation Operations


Figure 6: Cleanup with Sand Separating Unit


Figure 7: Phases of Slurry Wall Construction


Figure 8: Slurry Wall Inspection Report Form


Figure 9: Slurry Fluid Test Report Form


Figure 10: Tremie Concrete Inspection Report Form


Figure 11: Major Types of Slurry Wall Construction and Applications


Figure 12: Typical Guide Wall Construction


Figure 13: Guide Wall Constructed in a Prepared Trench


Figure 14: Slurry Wall Tolerances




1. Ressi di Cervia, A.L.,History of Slurry Wall Construction, Slurry Walls:
Design, Construction and Quality Control, STP 1129, American Society
for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, PA (1992).
2. Rodio-Italy, Company publication on geotechnical work experience,
AGV-Vicenza-Mondado Group, Italy (October 1986).
3. Tamaro, G.J.,Load Bearing Elements Constructed Using Bentonite
Slurry Techniques, Notes of the Met Section ASCE Seminar,
Foundation Problems in the New York Metropolitan Area (Nov. 3-4,
4. Hooks, J. M. et al, A Report on the Design and Construction of
Diaphragm Walls in Western Europe, Federal Highway Administration,
Washington D.C. (December 1980).
5. Sociedad Mexicana de Mecanica de Suelos, A.C., Capitulo 3 - Muros
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6. Edgerton, W. W., Site Investigations: a Guide, Civil Engineering
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Control, Slurry Walls: Design, Construction and Quality Control, ASTM
STP 1129, American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, PA
8. Rosenvinge, IV, T. and Tamaro, G. J., Chapter 9: Caissons and Slurry
Wall Construction, Field Inspection Handbook, ed. D.S. Brock, et al,
2nd ed., McGraw-Hill, New York (1995).
9. Poletto, R. J. and Good, D. R., Slurry Walls and Slurry TrenchesConstruction Quality Control, International Containment Technology
Conference Proceedings, FL (Feb. 9-12, 1997).
10. Puller, M. The Waterproofness of Structural Diaphragm Walls, Proc.
Institute of Civil Engineers - Geotechnical Engineering, Great Britain
(Jan. 1994).


1. American Petroleum Institute, Recommended Practice-Standard
Procedure for Field Testing Oil-Based Drilling Fluids, API 13B-2,
Washington DC (1990).
2. American Petroleum Institute, Specification for Drilling-Fluid Materials,
API Specification 13, Washington DC (1990).
3. ASCE, Slurry Wall Construction for BART Subway Stations, Preprints
of the ASCE National Meeting on Structural Engineering, Pittsburgh, PA
4. ASCE, Design and Performance of Earth Retaining Structures, Special
Publication 25, Proceedings of an ASCE Conference, Cornell University,
Ithaca, NY (June 1990).
5. Becker, J.M. and Haley, M.X., Up/Down Construction, Design and
Performance of Earth Retaining Structures, Proceedings of Geotechnical
Engineering Division, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (1990).
6. Braun, W.M., Post-Tensioned Diaphragm Walls in Italy, Concrete
Construction, New York (April 1972).
7. Boyes, R.G.H. Structural and Cut-Off Diaphragm Walls, Wiley, New
York (1975).
8. British Standards Institute, Execution of Special Geotechnical WorkDiaphragm Walls, Document 94/106168, London (1994).
9. Canadian Geotechnical Society, Canadian Foundation Engineering
Manual, 2nd ed., Ottawa (1985).
10. Catalano, N., et al. Post-Tensioned Diaphragm Wall T-Panel for Large
Unbraced Excavation Spans, Proceedings of the 19th Annual
Conference and Meeting of the Deep Foundation Institute, Boston, MA
(October 3-5, 1994).
11. Clough, G.W., Performance of Tied-back Walls, Proceedings of the
ASCE Specialty Conference on Performance of Earth and Earth
Supported Structures, Vol. 3, Lafayette, IN (1972).
12. Clough, G.W., Proceedings of the Short Course Seminar on Analysis
and Design of Building Foundation, Deep Excavations and Retaining
Structures, Bethlehem, PA (1975).


13. Clough, G.W. and Schmidt, B., Design and Performance of Excavation
and Tunnels in Soft Clay, Soft Clay Engineering, Elsevier Scientific
Publishing Co., Amsterdam (1981).
14. Clough, G.W. and Buchignani A.L., Slurry Walls in the San Francisco
Bay Area, ASCE reprint (1981).
15. Cunningham, J.A. and Fernandez, J.I., Performance of Two Slurry Wall
Systems in Chicago, Proceedings of the Specialty Conference on the
Performance of Earth and Earth Supported Structures, ASCE (1972).
16. Federal Highway Administration, Proceedings from the Symposium on
Design and Construction of Slurry Walls as Part of Permanent
Structures, Washington DC (March 1980).
17. Gill, S. A. Applications of Slurry Walls in Civil Engineering Projects,
ASCE Convention Preprint 3355, Chicago, IL (October 1978).
18. Goldberg, A.T., Jaworski, W., E. and Gordon M.D., Federal Highway
Administration Reports FHWA RD-75-128, FHWA-RD-75-129, FHWARD-75-130, National Technical Information Service (1976).
19. Huder, J., Stability of Bentonite Slurry Trenches with Some Experience
in Swiss Practice, Proceedings of the Fifth European Conference on
Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, Vol. 1, Madrid (1972).
20. Institute of Civil Engineers, Diaphragm Walls and Anchorages,
Proceedings of the 1974 Conference of the Institution of Civil Engineers,
London (1975).
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of Diaphragm Walls and Anchorages, Institution of Civil Engineers,
London (1977).
22. Kapp, M.S., Slurry Trench Construction for Basement Wall of World
Trade Center, Civil Engineering, ASCE (1969).
23. Kerr, W. and Tamaro, G.J., Diaphragm Walls Update on Design and
Performance, Earth Retaining Structures (1988).
24. Kirmani M. and Highfill, S., Design and Construction of the Circular
Cofferdam for Ventilation Building No. 6 at the Ted Williams Tunnel,
Civil Engineering Practice, (Spring-Summer 1996).
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Thesis, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, MIT,
Cambridge, MA (2000).

26. Konstantakos, D.C., Whittle A.J., et al, Control of Ground Movements

for a Multi-level Anchored, Diaphragm Wall during Excavation,
Proceedings of the 5th Int. Conference on Case Histories in New York
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Earth and Earth Supported Structures, Vol. 3, Lafayette, IN (1972).
28. Littlejohn, G.S. and MacFarlane, I.M., Case History of Multi-tied
Diaphragm Walls, Proceedings of the Conference on Diaphragm Walls
and Anchorages, London (1975).
29. Millet, R.A. and Perez, J.Y., Current USA Practice Slurry Wall
Specifications, Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, ASCE
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30. NAVFAC, Design Manual 7.1 Soil Mechanics, Department of Navy,
Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington, DC (1982).
31. NAVFAC, Design Manual 7.2 Foundation and Earth Structures,
Department of Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command,
Washington, DC (1982).
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Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, ASCE Vol. 107 (1981).
33. Paniagua Espinosa, W., Paniagua, Zavala, W.I. and Valle, J.A.,
Construction of Precast Walls in the Tramo Cola Garibald Line 8 of the
Metro, 2nd Symposium of Construction, SMMS, Mexico (1994).
34. Poletto, R.J., Slurry Wall Design, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Seminar on Slurry Walls and Slurry Trenches, Arlington, VA (1999).
35. Rosenberg, P., St. Arnaud, G., et al, Design, Construction and
Performance of a Slurry Trench Wall next to Foundation, Canadian
Geotechnical Journal, Vol. 14 (1977).
36. Santarelli, G. and Ratay R.T., Handbook of Temporary Structures in
Construction, Chapter 9, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill, New York (1996).
37. Saxena, S.K., Measured Performances of a Rigid Concrete Wall at the
World Trade Center, Proceedings Conference on Diaphragm Walls and
Anchorages, Institution of Civil Engineers, London (1974).


38. Sen. K. K., Alostaz, Y., et al, Support of Deep Excavation in Soft Clay: A
Case History Study, Proceedings 5th Int. Conference on Case Histories
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American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, PA (1992).
40. Tamaro, G.J. and Gould, J.P., Analysis and Design of Cast In-situ
Walls, Retaining Structures, Institution of Civil Engineers, London
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Performance of Earth Retaining Structures, ASCE Conference, Cornell
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Proceedings of the 9th Int. Conference on Piling and Deep Foundations,
Nice, France (2002).
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Slurry Wall Project List Parameters
North America only, separate groups by: 50 US States, Boston, New York
City and Washington DC
- Conventional panel walls constructed with end stop joints
SPTC - Beam Wall systems with concrete considered as lagging
- Post-tensioned Walls
- Precast Walls
- Load Bearing Elements or Barrettes
- Anchored Walls with soil or rock tiebacks.
- Top-down method of construction used
- Shaft Construction used
Date of start of slurry wall construction
Maximum panel depth, in feet
Maximum panel depth, in feet
Plan length multiplied by wall depth, in square feet
Brief description of project or significant feature of construction,
e.g. excavation support wall, permanent wall, shaft wall, etc.

























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