What is Karst and Why Should I Care?

karstmap

East Tennessee is in the middle of a Karst corridor that stretches from eastern Mississippi all the way to New England. When you’re in our business, it’s a great place to have a headquarters. But if we weren’t so taken with the Tennessee valley, we’d have lots of other places to choose from.

That’s because Karst geology makes up about 25% of the world’s land surface and roughly 25% of the US land form.

Characterized by a bedrock of dissolving carbonate rock (limestone, marble or dolomite) or evaporite rock (gypsum or halite), Karst topography is abundant in spectacular features and natural resources. Here you will find some of the most productive springs and water producing wells in the world.

Here you will find beautiful rolling hillsides, caves, underground streams and lakes.  And,of course, our bread and butter…sinkholes.

That’s where it gets interesting for land owners, land developers, engineers and construction companies. How do you know if you’re on terra firma or terra not-so-firma? Are there voids? Is the bedrock pinnacled? Will a shallow foundation do the job? Having this information BEFORE construction begins has advantages over sorting out and correcting a problem afterwards. There are three important steps for getting answers to these questions. (Note: Rembco doesn’t actually perform these steps ourselves, but we’re pretty good at finding the best people who do.)

First, have a qualified engineer design a site analysis plan. A geotechnical engineer will be able to make an informed decision on what type of investigation is indicated and how many test points are needed. There are several types of subsurface investigations to choose among…from hand-augering shallow soil samples to deep soil borings. Rock coring, in-situ testing or geophysical methods (seismic refraction and electrical resistivity surveys) may also be considered.

Second, perform the investigation and get expert assessment. The analysis will reveal, among other things, whether or not underground voids exist on the site, and if so, where. You may even discover an active sinkhole.

And finally, determine your risk. Your engineer will be able to answer questions about your risk and how it can be reduced or remediated. Will a shallow foundation will be adequate? If not, is soil improvement the best solution? Or is a deep foundation system required? With this information in hand, you will be prepared to make a better decision regarding placement of facilities and infrastructure, development planning, and even land purchases. It also provides the basis for estimating the scope of work, pricing methodology and ultimately – costs.

So now that you understand how having a good site plan works to your advantage, how do you go about getting one? Well, one good approach is to call a geotechnical contractor with a design/build team. One who’s familiar with these questions, who knows how to find answers, and who can deliver the solution…like Rembco.

Rembco’s design/build approach allows us to use all the resources at our disposal to design a solution that will solve your problem while saving you the costs of unnecessary labor, time and materials. We’d like to be your first call. You can reach James Grubbs, our Lead Estimator and Project Manager, at 865-671-2925.

For a more detailed view of the map above, click here for a PDF.

Rembco

About Rembco

Rembco is a geotechnical contractor that specializes in foundation support, soil stabilization and specialty grouting. Rembco offers micropiles, minipiles, soil nailing, rock anchors, pressure grouting, compaction grouting, compaction piles, chemical grouting, sinkhole repair, soil anchors and more. Headquartered in Knoxville, TN, Rembco has been providing geotechnical services (ground improvement, rock slide stabilization, excavation shoring, sinkhole remediation, hazardous material encapsulation, and underground liquid migration control) for over 30 years, serving clients throughout the nation.

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