Building contractors are investing heavily in mapping soil conditions in connection with construction and road building projects. Researchers from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) have now developed a system called Bedrock, which maps soil conditions more rapidly, more simply, and less expensively than current methods.

The project, which is funded by the Research Council of Norway’s FORNY programme, builds on expertise in acoustics and signal processing.

Skanska, som er et av verdens ledende entreprenørkonsern, skal nå teste Bedrock på reelle prosjekter. Foto: Bård Gudim

Skanska, which is one of the world’s leading construction companies, is now about to test the Bedrock system in real project situations. Foto: Bård Gudim

Broad collaboration


Figure 1. The Bedrock system measures the depth to bedrock or consolidated sediments to a distance of 10 metres.

The brains behind the system is NILU engineer Rolf Haugen. He was planning to install a domestic geothermal heat pump and received a quote for drilling with a massive price range. He obtained confirmation from the Norwegian Geological Survey that an instrument providing a reliable measure of depth to bedrock simply didn’t exist. “That got the ball rolling”, says Haugen.
“The project is technologically very demanding and involves many disciplines. In part, this is uncharted territory”, he says. His colleagues on this project are Leif Marsteen from NILU, Jan Fredrik O. Häger from Kjeller Innovation, and Volker Oye, Dominik Lang and Abdelghani Meslem from NORSAR. They have worked together extremely well and, according to Haugen, this has been crucial to the development of the system and the establishment of the company Kalliopera.

Relevant in many areas

Several industrial sectors require a better knowledge of soil conditions before project work can get underway. Relevant applications for the Bedrock system include road planning, as well as rail infrastructure, building and well boring projects.
Two thirds of all new road building projects, and three quarters of all new rail projects, encounter delays within the first four years. Many of these delays are due to unexpected soil conditions that developers encounter after projects have started. The Bedrock system enables improved planning, and saves both time and money.
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