Soil Compaction Testing

Soil Compaction Testing

nuclear density gauge test

Soil Compaction Testing is a crucial step in the construction process. Ground that has not been properly compacted can be detrimental to the structural integrity of buildings, retaining structures, roads and pavements, just to name a few. Essentially, proper soil integrity could make or break your structure. Since soils are so critical to a structures reliability you will find that soil compaction testing is required most cases. For instance, most regulatory agencies such as, the Department of Transportation and American Society for Testing and Materials all require laboratory testing. Additionally, you will find that the California and Uniform Building Codes, the geotechnical engineer, and structural engineers will also require soil compaction testing.

Why Compaction Testing is Important

There is a very good reason for all the necessity. Basically, if soil tests are not conducted you risk shifting, cracking, and even the collapse of your building. Roadways could also result in disaster by cracking, sagging, potholes, or even sinkholes. In the end, it’s vital for the success of your structure to ensure you have reliable soil compaction testing. Moreover, having a company that has a seasoned and knowledgeable staff, as well as testing facility, is critical. Not only will a more experienced staff save you time, it will also save you money.

How soil Compaction Testing Works

A soil compaction test begins with samples. After excavation a field technician will collect soil samples. An experienced field technician will gather samples from several locations to attain representative samples of various soil types that may be on site. Each soil type, or mixture thereof, has different properties and can act in different ways.  A skilled lab technician will be able to recognize the potential properties of each, and be able to determine best spots for soil extraction. It can also be valuable to take a sample from the stockpile. This is usually done if the technician notices that the stockpile soil has different properties than the other site soil, or because several soil types are being blended together.

Once at the laboratory the process of determining the optimum moisture content and maximum dry density will occur. A lab technician will start by sifting and moisture conditioning of the soil. Once the soil is prepped the soil will go into a cylindrical mold to be compacted at various moisture contents and weighted.

The test is to see how much of the material can be compacted into the same volume at the various amounts of moisture. When a material is too dry it can not compress very tightly. As more water is added, it is able to compact in better and better, so it’s dry density (unit weight calculated removing the water weight) is increased. Once it hits the limit that the material will allow, the water starts displacing the material and the dry density will start dropping, creating a “curve”. The peak of this “curve” is considered the maximum dry density and the optimum moisture for that specific material. Again, it is of vital importance to have an experienced lab for this process.

Nuclear Gauge Testing

The last key step in soil compaction testing involves the use of a soils nuclear gauge. Back at the job site, a field technician uses a nuclear gauge that has two radioactive isotopes (roughly the same mass as the head of a pin), and emits extremely small amounts of radiation into the soil. Inside of the machine there are sensors that detect how much of the radiation makes it back to the machine. One of the sources is for detecting the hydrogen content, which is a direct correlation with the moisture content. The other source is for detecting the wet density.

Using both of these readings, the nuclear gauge calculates the in-place dry density. This number is compared to the maximum dry density that was determined by the lab testing and is expressed in the form of a percentage. Typical requirements are between 90% and 95% of the maximum dry density. If the material changes even slightly, it could drastically affect the results indicating failure. An experienced field technician will notice the change and pull another sample for a curve rather than have the contractor keep trying to work the material wasting time and money.

To find out more about soil compaction requirements in California click here.

Why BSK Associates

Soil Compaction Testing

As mentioned previously, having seasoned field and laboratory technician is key in this process. BSK Associates has been in the industry for over 53 years. Our history in the industry  ensures that our clients receives accurate results in a timely manner. We are a dedicated team focused on developing practical, cost-effective solutions for our clients, and working toward constant improvement within our profession.

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What is Superpave?

What is Superpave?

What is Superpave?

The history of Superpave dates to the 1980’s. During that time, it had become apparent that some pavement wasn’t performing as well as others. While one section of highway would be in great shape, just down the road, another section would be degraded and need repair. Due to that, in 1987, congress decided that we needed to improve our highway system. Subsequently allotting $150 million into a 5-year program called the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP). The goal of this program was to:

  • Determine why some pavement functioned better than other pavement.
  • Develop guidelines and tests that would ensure all pavement used will hold up to the highest standard.
  • Collaborate within the industry to guarantee the new qualifications were being used.

In 1992, Superpave was introduced. SHRP had found that by implementing 3 mechanisms our asphalt would become more sustainable against extreme weather and heavy traffic conditions. Asphalt binder specifications, a volume mix design and analysis system, and a mix analysis testing became Superpave.

What is Superpave?

Superpave has become a success.

Implementing Superpave on our highways has increased the longevity of our roads. Commuters are not the only ones positively effected by Superpave. For instance, almost all highways in the United States use asphalt pavements. Moreover, the yearly expense for asphalt pavement is over 10 billion. Furthermore, let’s not forget about the environmental impact.  The more sustainable our roads, the more we save. Superpave has done that!

We are proud to be one of the first!

BSK is one of the first Material Testing Laboratories in California to invest in Superpave.

Which means; we have been doing Superpave longer than most. And, experience is everything! Our personnel is not only trained, we have extensive experience in Superpave hot-mix asphalt technology. Our employees are knowledgeable in AASHTO/ASTM test methods, and hold applicable Caltrans certifications.  Additionally, our Livermore materials testing laboratory is accredited by the AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory (AMRL) Program. Along with the Caltrans for testing in accordance with “Superpave” test methods, and Section 39 of the Caltrans Standard Specifications.

We offer Independent Assurance Laboratory & Testing Support.

  • Material Selection: Aggregate QA testing for gradation, evaluation of aggregate blends and binders.
  • Design: Verification of trial blends, asphalt structure, binder content, mix design.
  • Construction: Field QA testing of construction materials including soil, in accordance with ASTM.

What is Superpave?

Our Equipment.

BSK has made significant capital investments to support our clients as you incorporate Superpave in your capital improvement budgets.

First being the Gyratory Compactor, which uses a gyrating motion to improve mix design’s ability to stimulate field compaction. The gyrations chosen are based on design traffic level. We also invested in the Hamburg Wheel Tracker, which checks aggregate structure, binder stiffness, moisture susceptibility.

Saving our clients’ money is always at the top of our list. Superpave helps ensure the pavement will last longer and perform better; Basically, we are saving our clients money!

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BSK strongly believes in giving back to the communities in which we work. We believe the well-being of our communities has a direct bearing on the success of BSK, and our employees. We strive to make sure our community involvement goals have a positive impact on the communities which we serve because in the end it’s all about community.

Want to be in the “know” on upcoming BSK Associates events, community service outreach, and projects?

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We are proud to be Great Place to Work certified. Check out our job opportunities page for more details.

BSK Associates is always seeking diverse talent to join our team. We strive to recruit professional employees committed to success and growth of our company and themselves.
Want a career path with progressive steps and a company willing to train you? Upload your resume here if you want to grow with us. At BSK, you’re not going to be doing “just a job”. And, when you’re happy with us you can bring your friends through our robust employee referral program.

What is Superpave?

 

BSK: Gem Lake Dam Project

BSK: Gem Lake Dam Project.

BSK photo from helicopter.

BSK: Gem Lake Dam Project.

We are excited to announce that BSK conducted a Geotechnical Engineering Investigation for Gem Lake Dam!

Gem Lake is located on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range near June Lakes. This rural area is a hiker’s paradise with beautiful trees and lush vegetation.

Gem Lake Dam was originally built in the 1920’s and is a key element of the Rush Creek Hydroelectric System. In fact, Hydroelectric Dam Systems produce 8-12% of the nations power, making these dam systems all the more important. Additionally, this particular hydroelectric system is considered an eligible renewable energy resource! Hence, all the more reason that BSK is so proud to be a part of this project.

Part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requirements is to have the ability to control water levels of these lakes. Thus, ensuring that in the case of a natural disaster, the public will be safe. Southern California Edison (SCE), who own the 3 dams that make up the Rush Creek hydroelectric system, is in the process of retrofitting these dams to guarantee the safety of the residents who live downstream of the dam.

How Are We Helping.

Gem Lake Dam is a reinforced concrete Arch Dam which consists of several arches. BSK’s responsibilities included the Geotechnical engineering investigation for the proposed valve replacement for Arch 8. This consists of; field exploration, laboratory testing, and engineering analysis. Basically, BSK will be assessing the condition of the soil below the new valve. Additionally, we will provide recommendations to the project designers for moving forward. Field exploration on this project began October of 2019. Site reconnaissance included geological survey, rock sampling, and ground resistivity testing. In addition, we conducted laboratory testing on the samples. These tests included; unconfined compression testing of rock; basically measuring how much force is needed to crush the rocks.

 

Gem Lake History and Findings.

BSK: Gem Lake Dam Project.

This will not be the first time the dam has seen work over its almost 100 years of existence. In fact, shortly after its conception, the dam began to show signs of deterioration. Upon investigation it was found that a high water/cement ratio was used, causing the efflorescence and deterioration. This finding, along with other concrete studies, is why the American Concrete Institute now recommends a water/cement ratio of no more than 0.45 for poured concrete. In turn, these types of regulations and findings led to the conception of what we do at BSK.

Why We Love It.

Earthquakes, floods, fires, and other natural disasters have taught us what needs to be done to keep the public safe. We have learned what our soil, buildings, water,  and roads need to withstand natural disasters. Due to this, we have enacted rules and regulations. BSK has Engineers and Geologists that are trained and educated to know how buildings need to be erected; what soil/foundation standards need to be in place. We have inspectors that are licensed to know if a buildings weld joints will react accordingly in an earthquake.  We have laboratories that can test if the water system has been exposed to an outside contaminant. In essence, our work at BSK deals with keeping the public safe. Above all, we take pride in knowing that what we do on a daily basis at BSK makes our communities safer and stronger!

BSK has Engineers and Geologists that are trained and educated to know how buildings need to be erected.

BSK: Gem Lake Dam Project.

Lastly, don’t forget to take a look at the view of Gem Lake Dam from a helicopter here.

Follow Us and Like Us: 

BSK strongly believes in giving back to the communities in which we work. We make sure our community involvement goals have a positive impact on the communities which we serve; because, in the end, it’s all about community.

Want to be in the “know” on upcoming BSK events, community service, and projects?

Have a question about the services we offer? Check out our webpage @bskassociates.com.

Looking for a Great Places to Work? You’ve found it! We are proud to be Great Place to Work certified. Check out our job opportunities page for more details.

 

 

Arroyo Del Valle Bridge

Arroyo Del Valle Bridge.

Thanks to the efforts of the Tri-Valley Conservancy the Tri-Valley Trails are being connected!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arroyo del Valle Regional Trail, in Sycamore Park, will no longer lead visitors and wildlife to a dead-end trail. With the addition of the Arroyo Del Valle Bridge, the area has become part of a continuous 44-mile regional trail into Del Valle Regional Park, Ohlone Regional Wilderness, Sunol Regional Wilderness, and Mission Peak Regional Preserve. Connecting the 5 parks will allow visitors seventeen times the trails to peruse. Furthermore, this connection will enable access for people with strollers, cyclists, and those with disabilities. As for the wildlife, they benefit from the bridge too! Connecting the bridge enabled an interconnected habitat. It’s an amazing win for the entire community!

 

BSK’s Contribution to the Arroyo Del Valle Bridge.

BSK’s Livermore Office is proud to be part of the Tri-Valley Conservancy’s team for the construction of the Arroyo Del Valle Bridge. BSK supported the Arroyo Del Valle Bridge project with observation of helical anchor installation, earthwork compaction testing, reinforced concrete inspections for the bridge abutments, and high-strength bolting inspections.  Sequentially, we know this bridge was inspected by the best in the business! Additionally, we’d like to give a big thanks to Danaige Tower, Michael Romero, David Eckhardt, KC Clark, Omar Khan, Veronica Rager, Don Steckbar and Dennis Ness for their support to the project. Check out the photos below to see the BSK crew in action!

Prefabricated bridge halves prior to bolting.

 Arroyo Del Valle Bridge.

Also, a bridge fit-up. 134 total bolts were used at the connection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Arroyo Del Valle Bridge.

Additionally, we have a bolting inspection by Dennis Ness.

 Arroyo Del Valle Bridge.

At last, bridge assembled and ready for the pick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lastly, bridge is done.

Lastly, we are complete!

 

 

On Friday, September 27th, the bridge assembly was completed, lifted into place, and anchored to the abutments.  Many thanks to the Tri-Valley Conservancy for the invitation to watch the bridge pick and including members of our project team at the event!

You can read more about this project at http://trivalleyconservancy.org/projects/valley-trail-connections/.

Additionally, if you are in the area don’t forget to check out this trail!

Follow Us and Like Us: 

BSK strongly believes in giving back to the communities in which we work. We make sure our community involvement goals have a positive impact on the communities which we serve; because, in the end it’s all about community.

Want to be in the “know” on upcoming BSK events, community service, and projects?

Have a question about the services we offer? Check out our webpage @bskassociates.com.

Looking for a Great Places to Work? You’ve found it! We are proud to be Great Place to Work certified. Check out our job opportunities page for more details.

 

Iron-Titanium Ore

Iron-Titanium Ore (magnetite – ilmenite), from the Tahawus Mine in Newcomb, NY. 

BSK’s Lynne Baumgras, Ph.D., PG,CEG, PMP, and BSK Enviromental Group Manager, educates us about an Iron-Titanium Ore rock, that she has in her collection for Earth Science Week!

This rock is from the Marcy massif of the Grenville complex which forms the core of the Adirondack Mountains.  This rock is Precambrian in age and is one of the oldest rocks found on the planet at an age of more than 1 billion years old.  As this rock is a titaniferous magnetite, it has magnetic properties.  Because it contains iron, it is also extremely heavy!  The formula for magnetite is Fe3O4, and the formula for Ilmenite is Fe2TiO3.

The History

The Tahawus Mine is located in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York State, near the headwaters of the Hudson River.  The mining community settlement of Tahawus was settled there in the 1800s and was visited frequently by Teddy Roosevelt in the early 1900s, but is now a ghost town.   This deposit where this rock was found was discovered in 1826 when a party crossed the Hudson River.

Mining in the Tahawus Mine began in the 1830s and by the 1840s it was supplying ore for the first cast-steel plant in America (Adirondack Iron and Steel Company, Jersey City, N.J.).  Eventually, the iron ore was thought to be uneconomic because it was tainted with the black ilmenite ore which contains titanium.  In 1908, a French metallurgist discovered the suitability of titanium for use as a white paint pigment.  The mine was extensively developed during, and after, World War II where it was exploited for titanium.  Titanium was used during the war for smoke screen chemicals, among other uses.  The mine was operated until the 1980s by the National Lead Company.  Titanium is used today for alloys and light metals.  Titanium is as strong as steel but much less dense.

Follow Us and Like Us: 

BSK strongly believes in giving back to the communities in which we work. We believe the well-being of our communities has a direct bearing on the success of BSK, and our employees. We strive to make sure our community involvement goals have a positive impact on the communities which we serve because in the end it’s all about community.

Want to be in the “know” on upcoming BSK Associates events, community service outreach, and projects?

Looking for a Great Places to Work? You’ve found it! We are proud to be Great Place to Work certified. Check out our job opportunities page for more details.

 

BSK: National Safety Preparedness

BSK: National Safety Preparedness Month

September is National Safety Preparedness Month and at BSK Associates we take safety and preparedness very seriously.

Developing a Plan.

There are several ways we can prepare for emergencies and natural disasters. However, planning is the best way to start. Department of Homeland Security advises that you begin by finding out the types of disasters  that could occur in your area. Next they recommend that you discuss your plan with your family and friends. Decide how you will stay up to date on emergency alerts and warnings. Choose a shelter plan. Figure out which route you will take to evacuate, and how you will stay in contact with your loved ones.

The next step recommended, when forming a clear and concise emergency plan, is to figure out your specific needs as a family.  Additionally, you need to have a plan in mind so that you will be able to meet those needs. Do you or a family member require certain medication? Does anyone have a disability? Do you have pets or children in school? If you do have children, it is recommended that you download the Emergency Plan for Parents guide. This is a free guide provided by FEMA. Additionally on this website you will find several other free downloadable guides that will help to aid in your emergency plan.

Lastly, you should always practice your plan as often as possible. This is especially important if you have children. Being prepared and practicing for a disaster helps children feel safer if there truly ever is a disaster.

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Safety Preparedness Month.

BSK is about community.

BSK strongly believes in giving back to the communities in which we work. We believe the well-being of our communities has a direct bearing on the success of BSK, and our employees. We make sure our community involvement goals have a positive impact on the communities which we serve; because, in the end it’s all about community.

Want to be in the “know” on upcoming BSK Associates events, community service outreach, and projects?

 

Have a question about the services we offer? Check out our webpage @bskassociates.com.

Looking for a Great Places to Work? You’ve found it! We are proud to be Great Place to Work certified. Check out our job opportunities page for more details.

 

BSK Pays it Forward

BSK pays it forward at the Central California Food Bank

BSK Associates Fresno staff volunteered at the Central California Food Bank Saturday, September 14th, 2019. Our volunteers assisted by preparing for local distribution for our communities; such as building school bags, packing meal boxes, and sorting food donations for 5 local counties.

“Once you start getting into giving back, it’s addictive.” Said Carmen Chacon, Office Administrator at BSK.

Central California Food Bank serves Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern, and Madera counties. The work they have done in their fight against hunger is impressive. The program feeds approximately 280,000 people each month. Moreover, the Central California Food Bank has several programs set up to help reach everyone in the community. Some programs include the Mobile Pantry Program, set up to distribute food in rural communities in the area. The Neighborhood Market Program, which sets up a free farmers market type event in disadvantaged areas of the community. Or, the BackPack Program, which supplies local children with a backpack full of food that will last through the weekend.

BSK Pays it Forward

BSK Pays it Forward

Their fight against hunger is a cause BSK Associates wants to help fight! Not only did BSK employees show up to the event but they brought their children and family too.

“I found more joy in seeing all the children working so hard and having fun”. Chacon said.

BSK strongly believes in giving back to the communities. We believe the well-being of our communities has a direct bearing on the success of BSK and our employees. Our community involvement goals are to have the most positive impact on the communities which we serve and, have our employees continue to make a difference in their communities through personal, office and firm sponsored activities.

 

 

BSK rides Olli to Work

BSK rides Olli to Work: first ever co-created, 3D printed, self-driving shuttle.

Featuring Morgan Antaramian, Geologist at BSK Sacramento office.

BSK rides to work in Olli, first ever co-created, 3D printed, self-driving shuttle. Olli was developed by Local Motors and launched for the first time in National Harbor, Maryland in June of 2016. This August, Olli made his introduction at the White Rock Corporate Campus business park, in the City of Rancho Cordova, home to BSK’s Sacramento office.

Olli takes innovation to the next level! This environmentally friendly, self-driving shuttle also acts as a personal assistant during your journey. For instance, curious about the weather forecast, ask Ollie. Want some advice on local restaurants, Ollie can assist. Olli comes equipped with IBM Watson LoT technology to help answer any questions you may have during the duration of your ride, and Olli can be customized for the riders and cities in which he is located.

Featuring Kevin Grove, BSK’s Environmental Group Manager of the Sacramento office.

This 8-passenger shuttle can see 360 degrees and its riders are always being monitored by a human. Thus, making Olli a relatively safe way to get around. The Rancho Cordova Olli has an attendant on board with an emergency brake for added safety.

“Riding Olli is an excellent solution for the first/last mile dilemma that has plagued public transit. I can not wait to see this at airports, sporting events, and downtown!” Kevin Grove, Environmental Group Manager of the Sacramento office, said.

Rancho Cordova has the privilege of being the first city to test Olli’s capabilities in a business park setting. Will it cut down on traffic? Will it be easier to get to work or go on a lunch break? Well, we don’t have the answers to that question yet, but we sure do know it’s fun to ride!

 

Follow Us and Like Us: 

BSK strongly believes in giving back to the communities in which we work. We believe the well-being of our communities has a direct bearing on the success of BSK, and our employees. We strive to make sure our community involvement goals have a positive impact on the communities which we serve because in the end it’s all about community.

Want to be in the “know” on upcoming BSK Associates events, community service outreach, and projects?

Looking for a Great Places to Work? You’ve found it! We are proud to be Great Place to Work certified. Check out our job opportunities page for more details.

BSK: Proud Sponsor for the AWWA-PNWS

BSK: Proud Sponsor for the AWWA-PNWS Golf Tournament

BSK Associates Analytical Laboratory, Vancouver, Washington was a proud sponsor for the American Water Works Association Pacific Northwest Section, or AWWA PNWS, Annual Golf Tournament. This is our 5th year sponsoring this amazing event which raises funds for Water for the People and helps provide scholarship funds. We are proud to announce that approximately two thousand dollars will be going toward some fantastic causes.

Supported Causes

Water for the People was originally established in 1991. There focus is on sustainable water and sanitary services for everyone. They currently serve nine countries around the world. Eventually, it’s their goal to help provide safe drinking water for every country. Another portion of the funds raised will go to scholarships for water related education.

The AWWA, a nonprofit scientific and educational society focused on water related affairs, holds several fundraisers for water related causes throughout the year. Since 1881, their advocacy for safe and sustainable water has helped thousands throughout the world. Thus, making them community leaders in the water industry.

BSK: Proud Sponsor for the AWWA-PNWS Golf Tournament

BSK: Proud Sponsor for the AWWA-PNWS Golf Tournament

We are excited to announce that the golf tournament was once again a success! We had the opportunity to provide prizes and refreshments throughout the day and speak with several individuals about analytical testing; but most importantly, we had the ability to collaborate with others about the importance of water quality and control.

“We looked forward to this event every year. It’s an opportunity to give back to the community because that’s what BSK is all about!”  said Elizabeth Bunger, BSK’s Vancouver Laboratory Director.

Follow Us and Like Us: 

BSK strongly believes in giving back to the communities in which we work. We believe the well-being of our communities has a direct bearing on the success of BSK, and our employees. We strive to make sure our community involvement goals have a positive impact on the communities which we serve because in the end it’s all about community.

Want to be in the “know” on upcoming BSK Associates events, community service outreach, and projects?

Looking for a Great Places to Work? You’ve found it! We are proud to be Great Place to Work certified. Check out our job opportunities page for more details.