Soil Testing Companies Background on soil testing companies



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Subsoil Committee of the San Francisco Section of ASCE (1929-32)

A. A. Brown (Chairman), Hyde Forbes (Consulting Geologist and Engineer), Leon H. Nishkian (consulting structural engineer, BSCE 1906 Berkeley), James M. Owens (Engineer of Street Improvement Plans, SF City Engineer’s Office), and Frank G. White (Chief Engineer, State Harbor Commission). This panel was appointed by ASCE SF Section President I.C. Steele in April 1929 and continued by his successors, consulting engineers Henry D. Dewell (BSCE 1906 Berkeley) and Leon B. Reynolds. Their preliminary report was presented to the Section on April 2, 1931 and summarized at the regular section meeting on April 21st. In August 1931 the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Section authorized the publication of a 107 page report titled: “Subsidence and the foundation problem in San Francisco.

The published report was released in September 1932. The book was edited by George F. Whitworth, whose May 1924 senior thesis at Berkeley was titled “The Subsoil Conditions in the Filled-In Districts of San Francisco.” The 1932 ASCE book was a remarkable compilation, which included 25 plates (several in color) which included every historic map of San Francisco (back to 1775), extensive records of the City’s seawalls, ground subsidence isopleth maps, and the logs of every soil boring drilled in the city up thru 1931. It included quotes from Karl Terzaghi’s article “The Science of Foundations, Its Present and Future,” which appeared in the ASCE Proceedings in 1927. The 1932 compilation figured prominently in geotechnical practice for the next 40 years, and was referenced repeatedly during the explorations for BART in the mid-1960s.


Hoover-Young San Francisco Bay Bridge Commission (1929-30)

Driven by the development of automobiles, the dream of building a bridge to connect Oakland and San Francisco become a financial and technical possibility in the early 1920s. The problem was where to put the bridge and how to pay for it. Proposals for privately-funded toll bridges were solicited in 1921 and 1926, but these were unable to raise the necessary capital. From 1926 onward, the emphasis shifted to public construction of a San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

A joint state-federal commission was appointed by California Governor C.C. Young and President Herbert Hoover in August 1929, known as the Hoover-Young Commission. The members included: retired RADM Luther E. Gregory, USN, BGEN George B. Pillsbury, USA, LTC Edmund L. Daley, USA, representing the Army and Navy. George T. Cameron, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, and State Senator Arthur H. Breed representing San Francisco and the East Bay, respectively. Civil engineering Professor Charles D. Marx, PE of Stanford University and railroad and mining engineer Mark L. Requa were both appointed by Hoover as at-large delegates. Both were close associates of Hoover, dating back to his days as an undergraduate at Stanford. The most important member was probably the commission’s secretary, Charles H. Purcell, PE (BSCE 1908 Nebraska), the recently appointed State Highway Engineer for California.

The commission met in early October 1929 and tasked the State Department of Public Works/Division of Highways to make detailed engineering, economic, and traffic studies of a trans-bay bridge between Oakland and San Francisco. These studies were managed by Purcell and Charles E. Andrew, Bridge Engineer for the Division of Highways. The first order of business was the sinking of exploratory borings along the five proposed routes by Duncanson-Harrelson, a respected construction firm based in South San Francisco. The alignments probed were basically those suggested in the 1927 Ridgway Report, described above) to ascertain the depth to bedrock or suitable foundation materials. The borings revealed a relatively shallow “ridge” of bedrock between Yerba Buena (Goat) Island and Rincon Hill of just 164 ft, far shallower than any of the pother proposed alignments. East of Yerba Buena the bedrock surface fell off dramatically, only one boring penetrating that interface, at a depth of -323 ft just 1,400 ft east of Yerba Buena. The path due east to the existing Key Mole could support heavy bridge elements founded on deep pile groups, extending into the sandy clays of the San Antonio Formation.

After all of the requested reports were completed, the commission re-convened in late July and early August of 1930, issuing their findings in a report dated August 12, 1930. The commission played a pivotal role in deciding where the Bay Bridge would be located, its basic geometry with regards to acceptable vertical and horizontal clearances, and how it could be funded. They were aided in this final regard by the establishment of the California Toll Bridge Authority, or CTBA, in 1929. The commission’s conclusions were accepted and, in 1931, the State retained a board of engineering consultants (described below) to review the foundation design and structural engineering details. Under the guidance and leadership of Purcell, Andrew, and Engineer of Design Glenn B. Woodruff (hired in 1931), bridge construction commenced on July 9, 1933 and the project was completed in less than 3-1/2 years, on November 12, 1936.
Advisory Board of Consulting Engineers for the Golden Gate Bridge (1929-37)

On May 23, 1923 the state legislature passed an act creating the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District (GGBHD). Joseph B. Strauss of Strauss Engineering Co. was appointed Chief Engineer of the GGBHD on August 15, 1929. On October 7, 1929 the GGBHD established an Advisory Board of Consultants, composed of suspension bridge engineers Leon Moisseiff and O.H. Ammann of New York, and U.C. Berkeley Dean of Engineering Charles Derleth, Jr. Strauss appointed U.C. Berkeley Professor Andrew C. Lawson as Consulting Geologist. USC Professor Allan E. Sedgwick was subsequently appointed in 1931 as an Associate Consulting Geologist. The Traffic Engineer was Sydney W. Taylor, Jr. of Berkeley, and the Consulting Architect was Irving F. Morrow. Former University of Illinois Professor (1914-21) Charles A. Ellis, Vice President of the Strauss Engineering Co. and the principal designing engineer, was an original member of the advisory board, until he was fired by Strauss in late 1931.

The original set of plans and specs for the bridge were approved by the Golden Gate Bridge & Highway District on Aug 28, 1930 and a $35 million bond issue was approved by voters on Nov 4, 1930. Construction of the bridge was delayed until January 5, 1933 because of financing problems associated with the Great Depression. The bridge took five years to construct. Its completion was celebrated during the week of May 27, 1937, about six months after the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge’s main span of 4,200 ft and tower height of 746 ft were both world records that stood until completion of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in Nov 1964. The Golden Gate Bridge has a total length of 8,981 ft. The bridge’s main span now ranks 9th longest in the world.
Consulting Board of Engineers for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (1931-36)

In December 1930 State Public Works Director Earl Lee Kelly announced that the California Toll Bridge Authority to appoint a consulting Board of Engineers for the proposed San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project, and indicating that Ralph Modjeski would be the chairman and that Dan Moran would be the principal consultant on foundations. Funding problems precluded the consulting engineers from coming under contact until August 1931. This board was chaired by Ralph Modjeski of Modjeski & Masters in Chicago and New York (who actually grew up in southern California), would supervise the bridge’s design; foundation engineers Daniel Moran and Carlton Proctor of Moran & Proctor in New York, would be responsible for the design and construction of the bridge’s foundations; suspension bridge engineer Leon Moisseiff of New York; U.C. Berkeley Dean of Engineering Charles Derleth, Jr.; and San Francisco structural engineer H. J. Brunnier. Berkeley geology Professor Andrew C. Lawson served as the project’s consulting geologist. There was also a board of consulting architects, comprised of Arthur Brown, Jr., John J. Donovan, and Timothy L. Pflueger.

Throughout 1932 Modjeski, Moran, Proctor, and Moisseiff and members of their staffs convened informal meetings in New York, calling themselves the “New York Members of the Consulting Board.” This was helpful as the most vexing problems of that first year revolved around the design of the bridges foundations, and whether these could all be taken down to bedrock.

Civil Engineering Professor Raymond E. Davis at U.C. Berkeley tested samples of the foundation materials for the board, when they were debating the possibility of using floating caissons on the East Span, which they eventually did. Davis also supervised numerous tests of the bridges riveted steel structural shapes in the new Engineering Materials Laboratory established in 1931 at Berkeley. The bridge specifications were basically completed by the late fall of 1932, and the federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation agreed to purchase up to $61.4 million in bonds for the bridge construction on Dec. 15, 1932. Actual construction began on July 9, 1933 and the bridge opened to traffic in November 1936.


Advisory Panel to the State Engineer on Coyote Dam (1934-36)

Coyote Dam and Reservoir was the first of six reservoirs approved for construction by voters within the Santa Clara Valley Water District in May 1934. Several of these structures were situtated along or across the Calaveras fault. Acting under the aegis of the states’s new dam safety legislation passed in 1929, the State Engineer was allowed to hire eminent engineers as advisors on technical issues and aspects of any project the state reviewed. Since Coyote Dam lies across the seismically active Calaversas fault, the State Engineer brought in consulting engineer John D. Galloway of San Francisco (and a native of San Jose), Fred C. Herrmann, former Chief Engineer of the Spring Valley Water Company (which supplied water to San Francisco), and Berkeley Mining and Geology Professor George D. Louderback. They reviewed various aspects of the design to provide opinions as to the adequacy of its design for potential fault offset, summarized in their report “Report on the plans for the Coyote Dam of Santa Clara Valley Water District,” dated 1935. Other dams built across active faults during that era include Stony Gorge (1927), Rodriquez (1930), and Morris Dams (1934).


Board of Advisory Engineers for California’s Central Valley Project (1937-41)

In 1933 California voters approved the Central Valley Project Act, which authorized the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to sell revenue bonds to raise $170 million to construct the largest public works project in the nation’s history, up to that time (the Boulder Canyon Project had cost $165 million). Unable to sell the bonds because of the Great Depression, California turned to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to build the project. Because of the Great Depression, between 1934-37 there occurred several transfers of the project’s ownership, between the State of California, Bureau of Reclamation, and Army Corps of Engineers. The first dams and canals of the project started going up in the late 1930s, and the project was expanded so many times, that it wasn’t fully completed until the early 1970s.

A Board of Consulting Engineers was appointed by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1937 to provide external review of the first decade of the project, which included: Shasta (Kennet) and Friant Dams, the Delta Cross-Over, Delta-Mendota, Contra Costa, and Friant-Kern Canals. The members included: San Francisco consulting engineer John D. Galloway (BSCE 1889 Rose Polytech Inst), Los Angeles consulting engineer J. B. Lippincott (BSCE 1887 Kansas), Fred C. Herrmann, former Chief Engineer of the Spring Valley Water Co. of San Francisco, Bernard A. Etcheverry (BSCE 1902 Berkeley), Professor of Irrigation Engineering at Berkeley (from 1905-51), and San Francisco consulting engineers Walter L. Huber, (BSCE 1905 Berkeley) and Fred H. Tibbetts (BS 1903, MS 1905 UOP Stockton; BSCE 1904, MS 1906 Berkeley). Tibbetts had previously served as a partner in Haviland and & Tibbetts Civil Engineers and Haviland, Dozier & Tibbetts Construction Co. (1909-17). Tibbetts oversaw much of the early reclamation work on levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley, between 1909-36.
Corps of Engineers Airfield Pavement Design Advisory Council (1942-45)

In June 1941 the Los Angeles District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began wrestling with pavement bearing failures beneath the massive 96-inch diameter tires of the new Douglas B-19 bomber, which weighed 162,000 lbs., spread on just three wheels. The aircraft had caused pavement distress at Clover Field in Santa Monica (where it was built) and at March Army Airfield in Riverside (where it was delivered to the Army Air Corps).

District engineers in Los Angeles quickly consulted with research engineers at the Corps’ Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, MS and it was agreed that an Airfield Pavement Design Advisory Council should be formed, centered around O. James Porter (formerly with the California Division of Highways in Sacramento) because of his pioneering role in developing the California Bearing Ratio Test in 1928 (described previously). The advisory council was comprised of Colonel Henry C. Wolfe (who had worked on the Fort Peck Dam soil mechanics problems), structures Professor H.M. Westergaard of Harvard, and Dr. Philip C. Rutledge of Moran, Proctor, Freeman & Meuser, soil mechanics Professor Arthur Casagrande of Harvard, Thomas A. Middlebrooks (the Corps senior expert in soil mechanics, who had also worked on the Fort Peck Dam landslide), James L. Land of the Alabama State Highway Department, and O. James Porter of the O.J. Porter Co. of Sacramento.

Through Porter’s urging the advisory council selected the “Stockton Test Track” at the Air Corps’ Stockton Field, about 60 miles south of Sacramento, for the most ambitious field pavement test program ever devised, up to that time. The tests employed a 240,000 lb pneumatic roller passing over pavement sections of varying thickness, stiffness, and consistency, to better evaluate the California Bearing ratio test results for wheel loads of as much as 150,000 pounds.

From these tests, the Army Corps of Engineers developed specialized design procedures for flexible asphalt runways that incorporated the properties of the pavement subgrade, because the aircraft wheel loads are transmitted directly to the subgrade in flexible pavements. This focused attention on the importance of subgrade compaction, leading to the Modified Proctor Compaction Test of 1946 (described above). These design procedures were subsequently incorporated into post-war design of flexible asphalt highway pavements, which were used in the Interstate & Defense Highway Program, beginning in 1955.
Board of Engineering Consultants to California Department of Water Resources (1956-60)

Walter L. Huber, Chair (San Francisco consulting engineer), A. H. Ayers (San Francisco), Samuel B. Morris (retired General Manager & Chief Engineer of LADWP), Raymond A. Hill (President of Leeds, Hill & Jewett), and Ralph A. Tudor (President of Tudor Engineers of San Francisco). This was the panel of five engineers that oversaw development of the California Water Plan (summarized in DWR Bulletin 3 in 1957), the largest non-federal public works project in American history.
Earthquake Analysis Board - California State Water Project (1962-77)

Dr. Hugo Benioff, Caltech seismologist (Chair), Dr. George Housner (Caltech structural engineer), Dr. Clarence R. Allen (Caltech seismologist), Dr. H. Bolton Seed (Berkeley geotechnical engineer), Dr. James L. Sherard (geotechnical engineer with Woodward-Clyde-Sherard), Dr. John Blume (structural engineer, owner J.A. Blume & Assoc), and Nathan D. Whitman, Jr. (Whitman, Atkinson & Assoc., structural engineers). Ex-officio State representatives Alfred R. Golze, (DWR Chief Engineer), Laurence B. James (DWR Chief Geologist), and Arthur B. Arnold (DWR Chief, Project Geology, Southern District).
Earth Dams Consulting Board - California State Water Project (1962-74)

Wallace L. Chadwick (Los Angeles), Julian Hinds (Santa Paula), Roger Rhoades (San Francisco), Dr. Phillip C. Rutledge (New York City), and B. E. Terpen. Rhoades was the lone geologist on this panel.
Ad hoc Board of Consultants to Parsons-Brinckerhoff-Tudor-Bechtel for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District [BART] (1962-73)

This ad hoc board was formulated by the design-build team of Parsons-Brickerhoff/Tudor/Bechtel, to advise them on technical issues during the design and construction of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s initial development, from 1962-73. It consisted of: Ralph B. Peck (geotechnical engineer, Professor at Univ of Illinois), Al Matthews (President of A.A. Matthews Construction Eng’g, Rockville, MD), Arthur P. Chase, (structural engineer, VP of Matthews Const Eng’g), J. Donovan Jacobs (tunneling expert of Jacobs Associates in San Francisco), and Wallace L. Chadwick (expert in heavy construction, retired chief engineer of Southern California Edison,).

The BART project was the first time Terzaghi and Peck’s flexible tunnel lining design premise, formulated from the Chicago Subway measurements in 1940-42, was actually put into practice. The board recommended the use of Soldier Pile Tremie Concrete (SPTC) bulkhead walls for the lower Market Street stations after reviewing Ben C. Gerwick Inc’s pioneering work on the One California Street building in the early 1960s. The biggest challenge for the panel was the Embarcadero Station, which was not part of the original project, but was constructed in the early 1970s and paid for separately, by the City of San Francisco.
AEG Building Codes Committee (1962-forward)

The first San Francisco Section Chair of AEG’s Building Codes Committee in 1962 was Jo K. Crosby of Gribaldo, Jacobs & Jones. In the fall of 1962 the committee sent letters to local and county officials in the nine Bay Area Counties concerned with hillside grading operations, inquiring what codes or standards they employed and to solicit their recommendations. In mid-1963 the committee set about drafting a model excavation and grading code that was then circulated to city and county officials for comment.



California Geologic Hazards Advisory Committee (1965-67)

In December 1964 the Resources Agency of the State of California sponsored a two-day Earthquake and Geologic Hazards Conference in San Francisco, which brought a wide array of experts from across the state to discuss what California’s vulnerability to seismic hazards, in light of the Great Alaska Earthquake of March 1964. In early 1965 the Resources Agency Chief Hugo Fisher organized the Califiornia Geologic Hazrads Advisory Committee, to convene and prepare a formal report summarizing what California has accomplished to date, and what recommendations they would have for the State of California to accomplish in the foreseeable future, in regards to mitigating seismic risk.

The committee was comprised of Caltech Professors George W. Housner (structural engineer) and Clarence Allen (seismologist), Cal Berkeley Professors Bruce A. Bolt (seismology) and Richard E. Goodman (geological engineer), Richard H. Jahns, Dean of the School of Earth Sciences at Stanford University; Dennis A. Evans, Los Angeles consulting geological engineer, George O. Gates of the U.S. Geological Survey; Walter Hahn Jr., assistant city manager of San Diego; Mason L. Hill, exploration manager of Atlantic-Richfield Corp., Elmer C. Marliave, Sacramento consuiting geologist; Jack F. Meelan, Director of Earthquake Research for the State Division of Architecture and Construction; Frank E. McClure, Oakland consulting structural engineer; and Karl V. Steinbrugge, earthquake engineer of the Pacific Fire Rating Bureau.

The committee issued their report in June 1967, recommending that the state’s program of urban geological mapping be expanded and accelerated, so that the accumulated information on landslides, soft soil subsidence, and other potential geologic hazards should be made available to the public. They also recommended that the state developing a clearing house for information pertinent to earthquake and geologic hazards. Recommendations were also made to develop a program of research to study the physical behavior of potentially hazardous soils (Goodman had just published an article in the GSA Bulletin about the magnification of seismic energy in relatively young depositional basins, like Los Angeles). The existing seismographic networks then operated by Berkeley and Caltech should be expanded and adapted to telemetering of earthquake motions to a central point of dissemination, which will immediately inform interested state agencies. The report encouraged a wide disseminagtion of seismic instruments throughout the state, to record ground and building motions during earthquakes. It also recommended that the State should launch a program of earthquake education directed toward geologists, engineers, architects, building officials, contractors, and the 'informed public.


Board of Consultants to the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (1965-70)

Dr. Bruce A. Bolt (seismologist UC Berkeley), Lloyd S. Cluff (engineering geologist Woodward-Clyde), Henry J. Degenkolb (structural engineer H.J. Degenkolb & Assoc), George O. Gates (USGS Menlo Park), Frank E. McClure (structural engineer McClure & Messenger), William W. Moore (geotechnical engineer Dames & Moore), Dr. Gordon B. Oakeshott (engineering geologist and Deputy Chief Calif Div of Mines & Geology), Colonel Henry E. Pape, Jr. (SF District Engineer, Corps of Engineers), Dr. H. Bolton Seed (geotechnical engineer UC Berkeley), George P. Simonds (architect UC Berkeley), Karl V. Steinbrugge (structural engineer Pacific Fire Rating Bureau), Richard J. Woodward, Jr (geological engineer, Woodward Clyde).

This board advised the State of California BCDC regarding the safety of fills along the margins of San Francisco Bay and its natural estuaries (summarized in CDMG Special Report 97 in 1969). Mike Praszker never got over the fact that he was not included in this panel, since he and Charles Lee had “written the definitive work” on the impact of the San Francisco Bay Mud on structures (in CDMG Special Report 97, released in 1969). Mike Praszker had a running feud with Woodward Clyde, which culminated in a defamation lawsuit he filed against the firm in the 1970s.


State Board of Registration for Geologists and Geophysicists (1969-2009)

The first Board of Registration for Geologists and Geophysicists (BRGG) was comprised of: Wilfred W. Peak (Chairman), Ted L. Bear (Vice Chair), Glenn A Brown, Prof. Ian Campbell, Joseph M. Crosby (public member), John F. Curran, and Gardner M. Pittman. The first executive officer was John E. Wolfe, RG who served for over 20 years. Peak worked for the Department of Water Resources’ Division of Safety of Dams. Peak was succeeded by former State Geologist Dr. Ian Campbell in July 1972. In 2009 the BRGG was absorbed into the Board for Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (BORPELS), as a cost-saving measure. On January 1, 2011 the name was changed to the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists.

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