Geotechnical data are one of the most prevalent data types in civil engineering projects. The majority of the civil engineering projects that are in use today are designed using site-specific geotechnical data.
The usage of geotechnical data is not limited to construction projects. This data is used in a wide range of applications, including seismic hazard analysis, planning and zoning studies, risk analysis and other infrastructure development projects. Demand for geotechnical data in these types of applications has increased in the past few decades, due to proliferation of geographic information systems (GIS) and a variety of applications that take advantage of GIS and spatial data.
Considering the widespread collection and usage of geotechnical data in various disciplines, one might expect that data are readily available for most developed areas. However, unlike other types of spatial data that are available in spatial data infrastructures (SDI), geotechnical data is often managed using traditional and ineffective methods. Consequently, for a lot of projects it is difficult to find and acquire these data. This issue is frequently encountered in civil engineering projects, and more importantly, in large-scale multi-disciplinary studies that need large volumes of geotechnical data.
In order to address this problem, the current methods used for management, archiving and distribution of geotechnical data need to be improved upon. The most viable solution is to leverage the existing information technology infrastructure and adopt methods that are already in use for other types of spatial data. These technologies include geography markup language (GML), spatial databases and Web services developed for spatial data exchange.
Following this concept, in the subject dissertation development of a spatial data model for geotechnical data is discussed. The discussion includes an overview of the geotechnical data collection, processing and current methods used to archive and exchange data. The proprietary software and data formats that are used for geotechnical data exchange, including the association of geotechnical and geoenvironmental specialists (AGS) data format, are covered in this review. In addition, the current state of information technology for other types of spatial data is evaluated. This background study includes spatial databases, spatial data infrastructures and various standards that are adopted by the industry and regulating agencies for management and dissemination of spatial data.
Based on this framework, a data model is proposed for integration of geotechnical data in SDIs. This data model uses the terminology of the AGS geotechnical data exchange format and combines it with a GML-conformant schema. GML is the industry-standard markup language for modeling spatial data for use in SDIs.
The developed data model is compared with similar proposals from other research groups. The functionality of the data group is verified using several examples involving visualizing the geotechnical data and using it for analyses such as site response analysis and liquefaction hazard assessment. A case study is presented that demonstrates the potential benefits of these analysis scenarios in real-world studies.
Finally, the achievements of the dissertation are summarized and suggestions are made in order to improve the results of the current study. Also, some related research topics are suggested to continue and further expand the concepts presented in this dissertation.