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Magazine of Dispuut Geo-Engineering “De Ondergrondse”


De Ondergrondse has been working together with the Dutch engineering association “KIVI
Geotechniek” for quite some time now. In order to make this cooperation even better, KIVI
Geotechniek is offering the students of the Geo-Engineering section the possibility to join the
activities hosted by KIVI Geotechniek. These activities include excursions to conferences and more!
For most activities you need to be a member of KIVI Geotechniek and most are organized in Dutch.

If you would like to become a member of KIVI Geotechniek, send an email to

Sponsors 2
Dear Ondergrondse member, by Dianne Jacobs

While writing this ‘From the Board’ our board Unfortunately, now this is not possible anymore,
year has almost come to an end. And what a year but we hope that very soon there will be possi-
it has been. When we started our year we would bilities again to organize physical activities, since
have never thought a pandemic was upcoming, the online activities can never fully replace phys-
causing us to organize almost everything on- ical events.
line. The corona crisis has limited us in organ-
izing physical activities, but luckily it also made Now it is almost time for the 14th Ondergrondse
us think about online alternatives. Fun fact: did board to come above ground again, and for the
you know we managed to save almost seventeen 15th board to go underground. Go luck down
thousand euros this year? Hopefully it can be there guys!
spent well next year during the lustrum.

Maybe the new board might consider a sponsor-

ship with the Subway, because in the past months
a great amount of sandwiches have been taken
away there by members for the online lunch lec-
tures. Luckily during the introduction day and
mid-September we could organize Geodrinks at
De Ruif, which was appreciated by everyone after
months of lockdown. And that everyone was re-
ally glad to see each other again was also visible
in the bill…

by Teodora Barbuntoiu

Dear reader,

The autumn issue of ‘de Mol’ marks the the magazine. We know many of you are
start of the new academic year, which this fascinated by the world of geology and
time is rather unique. The second wave of thus thought it would be great to include
the pandemic shows its unprecedented interesting articles and impressive pictures
impact on the normal functioning of aca- with rocks in this edition. Since many of
demic activities. From first year freshmen you are unable to visit the mountains, we
to graduating students and professors, figured why not bring the mountains to
everyone feels the effect of restrictions and you; to your home through this new issue.
needs to adapt to a new ‘normal’. This usu-
ally implies working from home and hav- This edition of ‘de Mol’ includes arti-
ing restricted access to faculty facilities. cles on the story of an alumni geotechni-
cal engineer, an outstanding article writ-
However, the university has gone through ten by one of our beloved professor and
great efforts into helping students and staff a quiz on rocks. We hope you enjoy read-
to cope better with the situation. We, the ing through the latest edition as much as
editorial team of ‘de Mol’ , are also part of we enjoyed putting it together. Stay safe!
this transition and want to make your day
better by offering you the latest edition of

3 From the Board | Editorial

From the Board 3

Satellite Monitoring in Civil Infrastructure 5 5

Geotechnical Engineer - WDOD 7

Rock Collection 11

Rock Quiz 14

This spring I have joined the Geo-Engineering by Giorgia Giardina
Section as Assistant Professor in Geo-Moni-
toring and Data Analytics. In my work, I com-
bine curiosity for space technology with a
fascination for civil engineering challenges.

We are living in a world that relies on infra-

structure to function and prosper. Despite
this, bridges, roads and tunnels face several
problems in their lifetime. On the one hand,
building new infrastructure requires careful
consideration of the existing environment.

For example, there has been unprecedent-

ed development of urban underground con-
structions worldwide in response to popula-
tion growth, rapid urbanisation and advances Figure 1. Example of pre-collapse InSAR observation of
in excavation technology. In turn, this has in- critical infrastructure: the Morandi bridge, Italy (Milillo et
creased the risk for the excavation-induced al. 2019, Remote Sens, 11,12)
ground settlements to cause damage to surface In this research, I was able to define the
structures. On the other hand, existing infra- mechanisms and parameters governing
structure is at risk of failing because of age- the reciprocate influence between struc-
ing mechanisms and climate change effects. tural and ground deformations and to im-
prove damage assessment methods.
In the Netherlands alone, more than 1,000 bridg-
es and overpasses are almost 50 years old, re- And what does this have to do with satellites?
quiring a plan for maintenance or replacement. The development and validation of new as-
The situation is worsened by the increasing fre- sessment methods require high-quality field
quency of extreme weather events because it data which are expensive and difficult to obtain
challenges the structural design envelope put from the traditional ground-based monitoring.
in place at a time when the climate was more Fortunately, these data are available by recent
predictable. Through a better understanding advances in Interferometric Synthetic Aperture
of soil-structure interaction and structural re- Radar (InSAR) techniques. InSAR is a remote
silience mechanisms, civil engineers can guar- sensing technique for measuring changes in sur-
antee the sustainability of future infrastructure. face height and other characteristics over time.

I became interested in the impact of underground It provides high-resolution images which

excavation on the surface structure during my are not affected by weather conditions or
PhD at TU Delft. At the time the North-South require daylight and can be used to ac-
metro line was under construction in Amster- curately monitor ground deformation
dam, highlighting the risk of settlement-induced over large areas and long periods of time.
structural damage caused by tunnelling in a
highly urbanised city full of historic buildings. In the last years, second-generation sat-
My worked focused on evaluating the inter- ellites have enabled unprecedented mil-
action between tunnelling in soil and surface limetre precision that makes them suita-
structures through a combination of experi- ble for the accurate monitoring of ground
mental, computational and analytical methods. and structural deformations in urban areas.

Later, during a postdoc at the University of When in 2015 I met Dr Pietro Milillo, a NASA
Cambridge, I used advanced compu tational scientist who was using satellites to monitor
models to reproduce the results of centrifuge the evolution of glaciers melting and tectonic
tests performed on 3D-printed scale models of deformations, he seemed convinced that InSAR
buildings undergoing tunnelling in the sand. would be the perfect tool to provide those field
measurements so important for civil engineers.

5 Faculty Corner
Figure 2. Map of InSAR-based cumulative displacements over London spanning April 2001–December 2015 (Giardina et
al. 2019, Struct Control Health Monit, 26, 2; Milillo et al. 2018, Remote Sens 10, 287; Macchiarulo et al. 2019, ICSIC)

Together we decided to test the acquisition of This type of research can advance our ability to
InSAR data over the London area, to check if sat- detect early signs of structural failure and con-
ellites were able to detect the deformations of tribute to the safety of our infrastructure systems.
the ground surface caused by the Crossrail tun-
nel excavation. We made an exciting discovery. My research is now focused on designing new
systems to integrate remote-sensing observa-
Not only the soil settlements were clearly vis- tions with civil engineering procedures for the as-
ible from the radar images (Figure 1) but also sessment of urban subsidence, landslide impact
the large number of monitored points al- on structures and earthquake building damage.
lowed to reproduce a very detailed deforma-
tion profile for every single building affected Two brilliant PhD students, Valentina Macchi-
by the excavation. This breakthrough enabled arulo and Dominika Malinowska are working
a better understanding of the soil-structure with me to find new ways to evaluate the cur-
interaction mechanism on a city-scale level. rent states of buildings and bridges from sat-
ellite measurements. As aerospace engineers, I
The multi-disciplinary study on Crossrail was suspect they were also not expecting to apply

the beginning of a great scientific adventure their expertise to civil engineering challenges!
that brought me to NASA Jet Propulsion Lab-
oratory in Pasadena, California, in 2017 and My advice to the Geo-Engineering students is
2019. Quite unusual research visits for a civil to follow your curiosity without limiting your
engineer, and a great demonstration that curi- imagination to just what you have learned.
osity can bring you to very unexpected places. There are so many ways in which you can ap-
ply your knowledge and creativity to address
During these trips, I could deepen my under- the rapidly evolving challenges of our world.
standing of satellite monitoring applications And you can start from your master thesis: search
and work with Earth Observation specialists on Brightspace to find inspiration from a broad
on filling the gaps between different branch- range of topics, spanning from self-healing rocks
es of engineering previously unexplored. to disaster risk reduction to satellites and space!
Monitoring the ground deformations induced
by tunnelling is not the only task where civ- You can contact me at
il engineers and radar scientists can cooperate Database of Master thesis topics : https://bright-
fruitfully. In 2018, after the collapse of the Mo-
randi bridge in Italy, I joined a research group
led by Dr Milillo to analyse the satellite meas-
urements of the bridge deformations in the
months that preceded the failure (Figure 2).

Faculty Corner 6
by Peter Hopman
But how did I end up at the master geo-en-
gineering? I discovered the beauty of geo-
technical challenges like building on soft
soils during my part-time job as a stu-
dent-engineer at geotechnical engineering
firm BT Geoconsult. I can highly recommend
to have some relevant working experience
during your studies or to do your thesis in
company. It gives you an idea on how it is
to work at an engineering firm or contrac-
tor, and therefore you can make a bet-
ter choice where to work after graduation.

Hello geo-engineering students, staff I graduated in January 2016 with my the-

and alumni of De Ondergrondse! sis about an intensification factor due to
My name is Peter Hopman and I will overlapping passive zones in narrow sheet
share with you my journey from stu- pile trenches. I validated an earlier numer-
dent to a geotechnical engineer and ical study with a novel geotechnical centri-
flood risk consultant. I hope this gives an fuge model. This was an in company thesis
idea and inspiration of what life is after at BT Geoconsult, and I was able to start
graduating this master track at the fac- my working career here after graduation.
ulty of Civil Engineering of the TU Delft.
But I didn’t start working at an engineering
My time as a master student started in firm despite it was the most obvious step.
September 2013 with a nice geo-BBQ at During the activities and trips of De Onder-
PSOR. The first quarter of the master I re- grondse I met with a lot of people from the
member as very intense, but because of industry. During a company diner I came in
the small group size of our year (30, I think) contact with the head of the projects depart-
it was a very cohesive and close group. ment of the regional water authority (Dutch:
This was also one of the reasons that I Waterschap) in Zwolle. The regional water au-
joined the board of De Ondergrondse. thority is a government organization which is
responsible for the dikes, pumping stations

Higher river level in 2011 at the Ijssel river

7 Alumni Corner
Reinforcement of the regional dike at Kampereiland
and canals. I was asked to visit the office dike reinforcement project. I am also hav-
to come and take a look at the activities. It ing a role as a flood risk consultant in the
surprised me to see that there was a team emergency organization during alarming
of hydraulic and geotechnical engineers. I high river levels. Next year I will be more
was in the preconception that there was no involved in dike research projects. We want
technical knowledge at government organ- to improve the calculation guidelines for
izations, but that didn’t turn out to be true. the phreatic line in dike bodies and model
the strength because of suction in the clay
I started at Waterschap Drents Overijsselse above the phreatic line in the dike body.
Delta (WDODelta) through the National Wa-
tertraineeship. This program gave me the The nice aspect of working in a big and broad
opportunity to start with working for 4 days organization is that in addition to my exper-
a week and have one day of training. This tise as a geotechnical engineer, I can chose
traineeship helped during the first 2 years to do other (and less technical) activities. For
of my career to increase my self-knowledge me this is the perfect combination and the

(personal color) and certain (soft) skills. Also reason I didn’t start working at an engineer-
coaching and intervision with fellow train- ing firm. The advice I can give is be aware of
ees is included. I can definitely recommend the differences in type of companies and to
working at an employer which has more make a choice which fits the best for you.
to offer then to train you as a calculator.
If you have any questions, feel
So what is it to work at a government organ- free to contact me via LinkedIn:
ization such as the water authority? I work
for 60% of my time on geotechnical subjects.
This includes for example: making soil survey
plans, interpretation of geotechnical lab-test
results, parameter determination and mod-
elling dike failure mechanisms in the Plaxis
and D-Stability software. The other 40% of
my time the work is less technical and is
for example consulting my colleagues from
the dike maintenance and permits depart-
ments or attending meetings to explain a

Alumni Corner 8
Full-scale load testing on long
prefabricated concrete piles
in the Port of Rotterdam

1 INTRODUCTION 2.1 Testing frame

Since 2017, a revision of code NEN-EN1997 became The steel test frame was designed to withstand at least 1,5 times
effective, including the implementation of lower parameter the precalculated load at failure of the piles. Consequently, 2
values for αp′ which significantly reduce the pile bearing crossed, steel tubes (Ø 1420 mm) were used. The test frame was
capacity and hence will lead to longer and more foundation anchored by 8 screw injection piles (Ø 82,5 x 20,0 mm), each
piles. Consequently, it has become necessary to perform 45 m long, in order to provide the reaction force for the test load.
in situ load testing in order to optimize the pile dimensions
or to comply with the new design regulations and accept 2.2 Testing site instrumentation
higher construction costs. The Port of Rotterdam Authority During the load tests various aspects were monitored. Apart from
therefore decided to conduct a full-scale static load the strain in the shaft, pile head and base displacement, applied
tests (SLT) on 4 prefabricated concrete piles prior to the load, displacement of the testing frame and anchorrods were
construction of a quay-wall project in order to determine recorded.
the effective capacity and to optimize the pile dimensions
required in the design. In these tests, the piles were 2.3 Testing protocol
equipped with optical fiber sensors (FBG and BOFDA) The test protocol was identical for all four test piles and aligns
along the total length, enabling detailed registration of with the requirements described for class A of NPR7201. Every
strain along the shaft, from which pile shaft friction and load step was applied during at least 1 hour, when the creep
base resistance were derived. criterium was satisfied during that hour the next load step could
be applied. Otherwise, the load would be held constant until the
2 PREPARATION FOR THE TESTS creep criterium was satisfied, with a maximum of 3 hours per
Since the main objective was to maximally optimize the design loading step. After each loading step the applied load would be
and to comply with NPR7201 (NEN, 2017), it was required to reduced to 200 kN and held for 15 minutes, before applying the
test (at least) 4 prefabricated concrete piles. In order to avoid an next load step. Every new load step would be 500 kN (initial load
extremely high test load, the test piles (measuring 450 x steps) or 1000 kN higher than the previous one.
450 mm) were slightly scaled in cross section compared to the
piles that actually have been installed in the quay wall (measuring The load was increased until significant movement of the pile
500 x 500 mm). The foundation piles were ordered at maximum was measured. Failure of the pile was defined at a pile base
pre-cast length of 36 m. In order to optimize the design, the pile displacement of 0,1 Deq, which is equal to 50 mm. The loading
base factor (αp) and pile shaft factor (αs) can be modified on the step just before failure was used to determine the ultimate
basis of in situ test results. bearing capacity.

3.1 Interpreting the optical fibre readings

During the tests a certain load is applied at the head of the pile.
Due to this load the pile starts to move downwards, mobilizing the
shaft and base. Depending on the stiffness of the pile, a certain
elastic shortening occurs along the pile, which was measured
with the optical fibers. Now it was possible to translate the strains
in the optical fibers (microstrains) to the corresponding load at
that level of the pile, using the following equation:

F = ε∙EA (1)

F (kN) is the corresponding force;
ε (microstrain) is the deformation of the optical fibre;
EA (kN) is the axial stiffness based on Fellenius.
Using the strain-based stiffness and the measured strains along
the pile, the associated force distribution was generated.

3.2 SLT results

Table 1 lists the results of the 4 SLT’s. The distribution between
shaft and base capacity is determined on the basis of the
readings from the optical fibres.
figure 1. Pile installation

Table 1. Results of the SLT’s Since a significant part of the piles’ length does not contribute
SLT Rb (kN) Rs (kN) Rc (kN) to the shaft bearing capacity, due to negative skin friction (in
SLT1 >2100* >3900* >6000* the clay layers), the design was optimized by decreasing the
SLT2 2000 4400 6400 number of piles rather than optimising their length. As a result
SLT3 2350 4150 6500 approximately 25% less piles were needed for this quay wall.
SLT4 1600** 5150** 6750** Hence the total costs of the project were reduced with 5%.

*) SLT1 was not performed till ultimate loading, the presented values 4 CONCLUSIONS
correspond to a base displacement of 16 mm. The results of this study provided additional understanding of pile
**) In SLT4 the distribution of shaft and base capacity doesn’t correspond behaviour under static and dynamic loading. The most important
with the first 3 tests, however, the total capacity does. findings of this study are:
Better understanding in the development of shaft and base
The results of the first 3 SLT’s show a similar distribution of shaft resistance. Furthermore, residual strains after pile installation
and base capacity, while the fourth SLT does not. However, the play an important role in the allocation of shaft and base bearing
total capacity (Rc) of the fourth test pile corresponds with the capacity. Neglecting residual strains results in an overestimation
other tests. The current explanation for this phenomena is that of the shaft contribution and an underestimation of the base
the interpretation of the so-called residual stresses measured resistance.
with the optical fibres after pile installation was more complex at
SLT4 and introduced new uncertainties. The measurements of Total pile bearing capacity was estimated to be within a 10%
the residual stresses were not straightforward, probably due to range over all four SLT’s.
the influence of bending moments in the pile during the reference
measurements and temperature changes during pile installation. The measured base resistance of the piles proved to be higher
Consequently, the decision was made not to take the results than the calculated base resistance according to NEN-EN1997
of the fourth (and highest) SLT into consideration for the final (2017). However, it was still lower than the calculated base
design of the quay wall. resistance according to the previous version of this code NEN-
EN1997 (2012).
3.3 Effect of the SLT’s on the design
Based on the tests the pile base factor was increased by 20%. The complete article can be found on
Table 2. Pile base factor (αp) 941c008092c4
Pile base factor Symbol Value
According to 2017 norm αp2017 0,70 I. Matic MSc., Witteveen+Bos
Based on the SLT’s αpSLT 0,84 R. de Nijs MSc. CEng, Witteveen+Bos
M. De Vos civ. eng., Belgian Building Research Institute
A.A. Roubos MSc., Port of Rotterdam Authority
by Dominique Ngan-Tillard
When I was 6, my family visited some
friends. Isabelle, their 14 years old daugh-
ter was finishing a showcase box in which
she had stuck two dozens of rock frag-
ments, each of them next to a pretty hand
written name tag. I had a flash: if I don’t
start collecting now, I will be failing the
rock showcase test at school!
Top of the Mine d’Or cliff. Sandy gravels deposited by a
braided river when the local climate was periglacial and
Collecting “fresh” samples bearing the traces of root and/or ice actions.
of completely decomposed
micaschists for my Engi-
neering Geology class at
the Mine d’Or, hot spot of
my first geology fieldwork.

Local gneiss, mylonite and migmatite

(Pontchateau, Loire-Atlantique, France, Conglomerate picked up at la Mine d’Or. Percolating
where I grew up) are often weathered. This waters rich in iron oxide have cemented fluvial to estuary
is why the first specimens of my collec- gravels into a goethite hardpan.
tion are rusty and also how my interest Rock collection
for engineering geology and weak(ened) First, my tastiest rock! Without any doubt,
rocks grew. Among my rotten samples, my sylvinite from the splendid Potash mines
one piece shines: a large transparent in Mulhouse, France, a place I visited when I
crystal of quartz associated with large was studying in Strasbourg. Sylvinite is rich
sheets of muscovite brought home by my in Potassium; it has a spicy taste, it is less
father from a quarry inspection. I was used salty than rock salt and less bitter than Car-
to detach delicately mica sheets one by nallite containing Magnesium.
one with my nails. Now, when the sample
circulates from hand to hand in the class- My smelliest rock? Euh…That may be the
room, I wonder how many sheets of mus- piece of black organic Limestone split along
covite I will lose! a large ammonite. It smells sulfur. It comes
from the Ste Anne quarry, near Dinant in
When I was 14, I understood how Isabelle Belgium. The Ste Anne quarry is worth visit-
had gathered her rocks. Every year, the ing to learn how to design an underground
geology teacher of the local public sec- mine with nature, not against...provided
ondary school organised a fieldwork to pigeon shooters are not training in the open
the Atlantic coast. Her fieldwork is with- pit when you visit the place!
out doubt the most exciting day of all my
pre-university school years! I want to take My most dangerous rock? Could be the
the opportunity of this article to thank her cobble of Serpentinite that I picked up on a
again! The highlight of the fieldwork was beach covered with residues from a former
the exploration of the Plage de la Mine asbestos mine in Corsica. Serpentinite can
d’Or (the Gold mine beach) in Penestin, contain several forms of asbestos fibers;
fringed by a cliff with its astonishing warm some are more aggressive than others for
golden color and geology. our lungs.

11 International Geocorner
The kimberlite mined for its diamonds.
My most exotic rock? Either the Kimberlite
or the black smoker fragments rescued from
the trash of our lab. Kimberlite comes from
depths greater than any other igneous rock
and carries diamonds to the Earth’s surface!
My block smoker specimen comes from Massive fine-grained pinkish gypsum collected on a
the ocean floor, thousands meters below collapsing Triassic slope during our Engineering Geolo-
gy fieldwork “N420 slope excursion”.
sea levels. Black smokers form at tectonic
sometimes above 200 MPa, in very thin

boundaries where sea water, heated up by
hot magma dissolves minerals from the plates. The Bremanger metasandstone was
crust. When this water cools down, it comes used to erect the track of the block buster
into contact with cold sea water, minerals crane with which the 40 (or 60?) ton con-
precipitate, forming a black, chimney-like crete blocks were put in place to protect
structure, rich in metal sulphides with a high the seawater breakers (and beaches) of the
Copper, Zinc, Silver, and/or Gold grade(s). Maasvlakte 2, the extension of the Rotter-
My specimen seems to be rich in pyrite, the dam harbor.
fool’s gold.
My favorite rock? I cannot designate a
My most beautiful rock? The long cores of specific one. Certainly those offered by
coral limestone from Bonaire on which our students and colleagues!
lab conducted fatigue tests. Or the pink fine
grained gypsum picked up by one of our A few specimens contribute to the decora-
students from the crest of a bad land slope tion of my house. Many rocks I picked up
during the N420 slope excursion at the start during holidays end up in my flower pots.
of our Spain engineering geology fieldwork. They prevent soil projections during water-
I also like the failed Bremanger metasand- ing. When I water the garden, I travel back
stone samples. Core split in UCS testing, to the spots where I pick the rocks!

Home decoration designed by my youngest daughter. To

the left, the coral limestone cores, to the right a basket
with good looking limestones and flints. Among them, a Bremanger metasandstone after BTS, UCS and shear
brecciated flint picked up during a GPR survey in Jordan. box testing.

International Geocorner 12

Hi everybody, my name is Lars Rook and I recently started
working at GEO2 Engineering after graduating in March. The
reason I went for GEO2 Engineering is because of the broad
variety of projects they do and the hands-on approach they
have. This gives an excellent opportunity to be involved in a
lot of different projects in a short period of time and learn a
lot. For example, I’ve been involved in the following projects in
the last couple of months (amongst others):

 Foundation analysis of the A9 highway reconstruction

 Quay wall design in Commewijne, Suriname
 Reconstruction monumental sluice Spaarndam

I’d like to show a bit the kind of work GEO2 does by taking the
last projects as an example.

The monumental sluice in Spaarndam (see

figure) is the oldest still functioning sluice in
Europe, built in 1280 (!) which was also used
in order to drain the lake what is now the
Haarlemmermeer. Alongside the sluice there
are a lot of monumental buildings from the
15th, 16th and 17th century, most of them on
shallow foundations. For this sluice the
retaining structures have to be replaced
because they have reached the end of their
service life. The retaining structure has to be
replaced without damaging any of the
monumental buildings.

In order to make this happen a design had to

be made with a strict construction sequence.
First a temporary backfill of the sluice will be made after which the new sheetpiling will be
installed with the old retaining structure still in place in order to reduce the displacements of
the monumental buildings (standing only 5 meters away). After placing anchors the old
structure can be removed and the backfill can be excavated all the while this takes place
under strict monitoring.

In order to make such a project happen a lot of finite element modelling and a practical
approach is necessary which will be constructed next spring (so go take a look!)! The work
GEO2 Engineering did for this project was the following:

 Finite element modelling of construction

 Sheetpiling and anchor design
 Deformation analysis adjacent buildings
 Settlement analysis backfill
 Site investigation and soil parameter determination

If you are interested in other projects you can always contact me ( or go to
the GEO2 presentation and drinks which will be announced in due course. Also, opportunities
for an internship or graduation thesis are possible.

Can you guess the name of the rocks? To

fnd out if you are right, scan this QR code:

Contact Circulation: 250
“De Ondergrondse“
p/a Stevinweg 1, Room 0.0.43 Editors: Gokul Krishan Balaji, Teodora Barbuntoiu,
2628 CN Delft Simon Dehout, Frode van der Drift, Maarten Zijlstra

T | 015 - 278 2778

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