Midway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the deep water Khalifa Port is the first semi-automated container port in the region. The port manages general cargo and all of Abu Dhabi’s container traffic.

AECOM provided geotechnical input from the UK which included the design and supervision for a large, two-stage ground investigation and geotechnical design. This investigation comprised a large number of cone penetrometer tests, boreholes, trial pits and associated laboratory testing, and was vital to enable the design of foundations to building structures; of underground pumping stations and large diameter pipework; of road pavements and services, of ground improvement to treat soft Sabkha deposits and liquefiable carbonate sands; and of pile design that had to cater for solution cavities.

The need for ground improvement was identified in many areas of the site. Surcharging was applied to areas of near-surface silt deposits to mitigate settlement risk. Vibro-compaction was used to densify the sand, down to rockhead, beneath building structures in order to mitigate the risk of earthquakes affecting deeper loose sand deposits. The need for a capillary break layer below foundations and road pavements to protect against aggressive groundwater conditions was also identified.

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Patrick Cox