Emerging Geosynthetic Products - LK Kachhwal

Emerging geosynthetic products have changed the geotechnical engineering perspective concerning soft and compressible soil conditions.  The conventional approach of excavate, remove, and replace with quality engineered backfill can be very labourious, time consuming, and uneconomical.  An alternate approach involves the use of high-strength geosynthetic material for reinforcement and improvement of subgrade soils.  We utilized this technique to support a 40 m-diameter fuel storage tank on a geosynthetic reinforced earth foundation (GREF) that was constructed on soft and compressible soils.

In 2015 Nichols completed a geotechnical investigation, which revealed that the in situ soil conditions on site comprised compressible, soft, and high plastic black lacustrine clay mixed with organics.  It was determined this upper layer of clay soil was not suitable for the foundation of the tank, and a deep pile foundation was not desired by the client due to cost and other site development constraints.

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A 3.0 m-thick GREF pad was designed using eight layers of high-strength geotextile sandwiched between imported 6-80 granular (Alberta Transportation) fill material.  The settlement calculations were conducted manually and using a computer model.  The total maximum uniform settlement of 150 mm was predicted.  During hydrostatic load testing of the tank, conducted over a period of 12-days, the measured total uniform settlement ranged between 54 mm and 122 mm, so the uniform settlement was within the predicted values during the design of the GREF.

2019 02 05 Blog post Tank 2

The GREF performed satisfactorily and resulted in significant cost and time savings to the client, in comparison to a deep pile foundation strategy.  A case study paper on this project will be accepted for publication and be presented at the Geosynthetics Conference, Houston, 2019. 

Asphalt Flux Release - J. Zunti

In October 2018, Nichols responded to an 18,000-L spill of asphalt flux (roofing tar) after two trailers detached from a haul truck along the off-ramp of Anthony Henday Drive onto Calgary Trail south. The hot tar flowed down the embankment, over a concrete retaining wall, and into a storm sewer catch basin that serviced the interchange.

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Challenges for this project included a busy roadway and time restrictions, the presence of engineered fill, a retaining wall, and 275 m of affected storm line (1,000 mm in diameter). Approximately 80 m3 of impacted surface soils were removed mechanically and by hand from the embankment, and tar was removed via steam units and manually. Water samples collected at the downgradient stormwater pond indicated that no surface water had been impacted. The only remaining work to be completed in the spring of 2019 is removal of the tar from the retaining wall and hydroseeding of the remediated area.

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We had the opportunity to visit the Canadian Light Source facility at the University of Saskatchewan - the brightest light in Canada!  The facility and people that run it are leaders in synchrotron science and are spearheading research in the mining and energy, health and life sciences, and advanced manufacturing sectors. Check out their website at https://www.lightsource.ca/.

Synchrotron 1   

Accounting Paperwork Flow – J. Stanton

The holidays are quickly approaching, and our to-do lists are not getting any smaller; field jobs are winding down for the season but there’s still so much to do. Stress creeps in, the urge to rush becomes stronger, and there are just not enough minutes in the day to get to that mountain of paper!

Sound familiar?

In this month’s H&S meeting we held a crash course on the inner workings of our accounting department, from receiving vendor invoicing to tracking costs and hours to gift-wrapping them in our signature Nichols client invoice. It’s a team of four individuals working together to keep the flow going of what some might consider a headache – paperwork. As a cost-plus business, we want our staff to know what we do and why. By being transparent we are able to collect costs, get all hours entered, and compile time-accurate billings as close to when the work was completed as possible.

It is our goal to help each other minimise stress by working together to keep that flow going, making sure that everyone can have a happy holiday.

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." – Henry Ford

Winter Safety

During our latest monthly HSE meeting, we facilitated an open discussion regarding issues involving winter safety. The discussion was engaging and topics ranged from identifying the signs of hypothermia to ensuring your emergency roadside kit includes snacks and water. Remember to look out for each other and embrace winter... because it's here to stay (for the next 6 months anyways)!

Winter Driving – B. Rakewich

winter roads

It's October 1st and here in Alberta, we have already experienced several snow events and even driving conditions you would expect in the middle of January!  Now that summer is behind us and with real winter just around the corner, we took the time to outline some safe winter driving practices during our monthly HSE Meeting this morning.  We discussed the importance of planning ahead, being prepared in the event of an emergency and how to handle adverse road conditions.  We also discussed the risk associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, which increases during the winter months.  We encourage everyone to plan ahead and make sure your vehicles are winter ready!


Head Office – Edmonton
17331 – 107th Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta T5S 1E5

Phone: (780) 484-3377
Fax: (780) 484-5093

Calgary Office
427 Manitou Road SE
Calgary, Alberta T2G 4C2

Phone: (403) 452-1820
Fax: (403) 984-8803

Peace Region
Office: (780) 484-3377
Toll Free: 1-877-888-6325

Saskatchewan Office
Office: 1-877-888-6325

What's New

  • March 11, 2021
    ‘I just wanted to say thank you once again for your help the other day. I was amazed at the level of service you provided. Very refreshing in today’s world. Even though I was inqui...
  • July 07, 2020
    During today’s virtual HSE meeting, we revisited our internal COVID-19 virus transmission policy and provided everyone here at Nichols the opportunity to share anything they have learned...

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