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Construction Below the Water Table

Exclude the water Lower the water table Solidify the ground Ignore the water

Exclude the Water

Caissons usually refers to structures which are constructed offsite and then brought to site in one piece or in a series of independent modules. Cofferdams usually refers to structures in water that are constructed on site, often from standard parts. Identical structures on land are not usually called cofferdams and the name seems to be falling out of use.

Box Caissons

(a) Box caisson floated into place with ballast as required. (b) Caisson filled with appropriate material water may be pumped out first. Hollow caissons can be used to house equipment filled they can be used as foundations.

Open Caissons
Open caissons permit excavation or other work to be carried out inside the caisson. The caisson will sink down into the soil as excavation proceeds. Sections can be added on top to increase height. Water can be pumped out to permit dry work.

Pneumatic Caisson
Pneumatic Caissons can be sunk with the aid of compressed air. Provides a dry working chamber. Regulations apply
Volume air supply Caisson sickness The bends Structural integrity Man management

Simple cofferdam
Cut off walls sunk into low permeability material
Sheet piles
Usually steel interlocking /Case%20studies/03110Beve rleyBeckv2.pdf

Contiguous bored piles

Problems with seals at joints

Vibrated beam wall

Vibrate H pile into ground and inject grout as pile removed usually permanent.

Pump water from sump.

System can be used for construction below water table on land or in rivers etc.

Cofferdam with de-watering wells

Can lower water table by sinking wells and pumping water (at a rate faster than the re-entry rate) to a suitable location. Must consider silt content etc. of pumped water and effect on ground water flow.

Sealed Cofferdam
Completely sealed system. Must cater for upthrust. Only direct rainfall needs to be pumped out. Horizontal barrier can be concrete, clay, ground freezing etc.

Lower the Water Table

Effectively confined to land sites
with low permeability soils to lower water table slightly over large area

Sink a series of wells

generally on a grid pattern.

Pump water from wells

Ground water will flow towards excavation Consider environmental effect of pumped water.

Solidify Ground - then dig it out (Not common not easy to control)
Freeze the water.
Requires a lot of energy. Soil mass expands
can cause damage changes properties of soil mass

Cement grouting
Cement reacts with water Permanently changes properties of soil mass Generally used as ground strengthening

Other chemical reactants

Ignore the Water

For processes that can be carried out underwater.
Welding Concreting Assembly work Inspections

Divers Remote controlled equipment Remote handling

Concrete 1
Cement, aggregate (sand & gravel) & water mixed together in appropriate proportions form concrete. Cement powder reacts with water in mix to form a new compound. Forms a hardened cement matrix with aggregate particles bonded to (and locked within) the matrix.

Typical concrete mixes

Traditional 1:2:4
batched by weight or volume
1 part cement 2 parts fine aggregate (sand) 4 parts coarse aggregate (gravel)
Often 2 parts 10mm approximate size Plus 2 parts 20mm approximate size

w/c ratio of (say) 0.5 means 0.5 parts water

Quantity of water should allow for any wet aggregate

Specifying Concrete BS8500

Exposure Class continued

Water/cement ratio is critical

Want all water to be used in chemical reaction (w/c=0.25 is optimum for this)
Too little
Stiff paste that is difficult to place can use plasticiser Un-reacted cement which can react later if it gets wet Aggregate not properly bonded

Too much
Voids when water evaporates Drying shrinkage greater Lower density, lower strength reduced durability

For good workability usually need w/c>=0.3

Purpose is dimensional stability
Volume of cement when set is less than that of paste shrinkage inevitable.

Low coefficient of thermal expansion. Must not absorb moisture. Must be chemically inert. Appropriate strength, size, shape & grading. Form good bond with hardened cement.

Plain concrete is strong in compression and weak in tension. Steel (mild or high yield) reinforcement used
To carry tensile stresses. Links used to carry shear stresses. To increase compressive strength.

Steel rusts in presence of water & oxygen

Rust has greater volume than steel Expansive forces damage concrete Corrosion worse if salt present

Casting Concrete Under Water

Concrete will set under water. Need to protect wet paste from strong currents. Concrete at surface contaminated by sea or river water & cement leaches out. Need to keep mass of concrete intact & minimise new surface area as it is placed. Large dimensional tolerance required.

Techniques for concreting under water

Use pre-cast concrete units and lower into place
Light enough to place Heavy enough to stay in place or anchor

Place wet concrete inside sacrificial bag Use a hopper with a bottom gate & skirt Use tremie pipe or flexible hose

Hopper & skirt

Fresh concrete placed in skip Skip lowered to sea bed Gate opened Skip raised slowly Sea bed Concrete protected by skirt as flows onto sea bed OK for mass fill

Fresh concrete

hopper skirt

Hinged or sliding gate

Tremie Pipe (not to scale) for small quantities only

Crumpled paper used to block tube initially Fresh concrete placed within existing mass Formwork required can be pre-cast units Scour may be a problem Cofferdams can provide protection Can use flexible hose & pumped concrete
Fresh concrete in hopper

Water level

Sea bed level

Things to Remember about Concrete

Designs based on 28 day strength No load until 7 days (approx) Hardens quickly but strength remains low Is subject to sulphate attack
Sulphates found in some clay soils

Health & safety issues to be considered

Allergy common & can be developed

Demolition must be considered

Useful Links

Any Questions?