A drilling crew performing geotechnical drilling in El Paso

The Science of Geotechnical Drilling in El Paso

When it comes to commercial construction, you know that every step of the process is crucial to the success of a project. Before the building process can even begin, it’s necessary to ensure that the land is suitable for construction by using a technique known as geotechnical drilling. 

In this article, we’ll explore more about this process and show you how the El Paso Drilling team can help provide you with crucial information about your construction site to make your next project a success.

What is Geotechnical Drilling?

Geotechnical drilling is a type of investigative drilling that provides data about soil quality and contents to design and monitor the construction of buildings, dams, bridges, roadways, or other infrastructure sites. This drilling is an important part of the construction process as the information gleaned from these studies helps project managers and engineers determine the supporting characteristics of the soil, which in turn provides insight into the type of materials needed for the project, appropriate depth for installation of pilings, whether or not the angle of the ground will affect building conditions, and more.

Geotechnical Drilling Techniques

When it comes to geotechnical drilling, there are a variety of techniques involved in this delicate process, which is why this part of the construction process should always be left to the professionals. The five types of geotechnical drilling technologies include:

  • Sonic drilling
  • Hollow stem or solid stem auger drilling 
  • Rotary drilling
  • Direct push
  • Coring

Let’s take a look at each of these drilling technologies more closely to see what information each technique can bring to your next construction project.

Sonic Drilling

Sonic drilling is an advanced geotechnical drilling technique that is ideal for deep and shallow drilling applications and can be utilized with any type of soil for nearly any project. This low-impact technique involves the use of specialized equipment that utilizes high-frequency, resonant energy to rotate and vibrate the drill to provide an efficient collection of soil samples while maximizing crew safety.

Auger Drilling

Auger drilling is an eco-friendly, proven geotechnical drilling technology that has a wide range of uses, including soil sampling, installation of data collection instruments, subsurface improvements, and more. This type of drilling involves the use of either hollow stem or solid stem cutter heads that are used to obtain soil samples using split spoon samplers. This type of drilling is the ideal choice for environmental sampling because there are no additives used in the drilling process.

Rotary Drilling

As one of the more basic drilling techniques available, rotary drilling involves the use of a sharp, rotating drill bit coupled that uses impact force to drill through layers of substrate. There are several unique varieties of rotary drilling, which include:

  • Air rotary
  • Mud rotary
  • Dual rotary
  • Reverse circulation rotary

This type of geotechnical drilling is ideal for projects requiring an increased depth as this method is typically more robust than other alternative methods.

Direct Push Drilling

Direct push technology involves the use of a hydraulic hammer to advance the drill through ground layers in an effort to perform soil, groundwater, and vapor surveys or monitor wells. This type of drilling is often used in the collection of multiple samples as direct push drilling can reach deeper depths with a lower impact on the environment than some other types of drilling.


Diamond core drilling is a technique most commonly used in the mining industry as an approved method for working with cemented or hard rock environments. This technique involves the rotation of diamond-impregnated steel into the ground while applying downward pressure to collect rock core samples for analysis.

El Paso Geotechnical Drilling

If you’re looking for more information on geotechnical drilling for your next project, contact our team in El Paso, Texas, to learn more about our services. 

The Baby Drill, a low-clearance drill from MAIT, performing drilling services in El Paso.

What To Expect From Low-Clearance Drilling in El Paso 

Sometimes construction projects require drilling in hard-to-reach and narrow spaces. Drilling companies use different machinery and drilling methods depending on the job site and the scope of the job. When challenging terrain or limited space is part of the equation, low clearance is the solution. 

So what can you expect from low-clearance drilling? We provide a brief overview of this technique, the equipment used, and what to look out for. 

If you need drilling in a difficult-to-reach place, remember that El Paso Drilling specializes in excavation. Not only have the crew but also the equipment to get the job done right. Connect with us to learn more

What is Low-Clearance Drilling? 

As mentioned above, low-clearance drilling involves excavation in hard-to-reach places, where the target area is narrow, surrounded by other structures, in difficult terrain, etc. This is often necessary when contractors need to drill under power lines or bridges. 

Large-scale drilling usually requires large equipment or vacuum trucks. This may not always be appropriate for all settings or work sites. It’s not always an option to park a large vehicle on the worksite—especially if it’s inside a building or in a narrow space with other structures or with restricted overhead work. When there is less overhead space, the crew needs a drill that has a shorter tower but the same amount of power. 

Where is low-clearance drilling used? 

Low-clearance drilling is categorized as restricted access drilling.  These job sites require the use of specialty drills and varying processes to ensure that property is not destroyed and the drill is completely effective. This might include: 

  • Certain geographic locations: If digging is needed in the middle of a crowded area where people walk through or congregate, this would be considered restricted access. Especially rigs are used to ensure a less destructive process and one that occupies less space. 
  • Low clearance: This category refers to job sites that have reduced overhead space, are under another structure or are otherwise restricted in space. 
  • Reduced ventilation: When drilling operations move indoors, ventilation and air quality become a major consideration of the job. The necessary exhaust ventilation or propane equipment is needed to ensure the crew and the surrounding bystanders are not affected by toxic fumes. The process is completed with special drills and careful measures to ensure safety. 
  • Uneven or unconventional surfaces. Drilling sometimes happens in marine settings, over water, or on other uneven surfaces. Projects may require drilling in rocky cliffs, wetlands, building basements, etc. These surface restraints can require specialized drilling equipment as well. 

Why Choose a Specialist with Experience in Low Clearance Drilling

As anyone in the industry will tell you, every drilling job requires special considerations. No job is the same. This is because every job differs in scope, size, timeline, material, and more. 

When it comes to jobs that are less defined or deal with hard-to-access areas or dangerous conditions, you want a contractor that understands the nuances of drilling in such a setting to maintain the safety protocols and remain efficient. At the same time, you want someone with the appropriate equipment to accommodate the restricting conditions. 

In a nutshell, you want the right machinery and the right operators to handle this complicated work. At El Paso Drilling, for example, we have specialized equipment that gets the job done in difficult areas. Our small and compact drills can assist projects that require reduced overhead space, such as indoor digs, under freeways, or bridges. 

Check out some of the specs of the two specialized drills: 

MAIT Baby Drill 

  • Max diameter: 15-24 in
  • Goes to depths of 39-49-60 ft
  • Has power of 47 HP @ 3,000 RPM 
  • Max torque: 12,999 lb-ft

Ecoline 35 Drilling Rig 

  • Max diameter of 36 inches
  • Goes to depths of 52.5 ft
  • Has power of 61 HP @ 2,300 RPM
  • Max torque of 22,1110 lbs-ft

These two drills allow for low overhead clearance with the needed accuracy and power of any other digging job. When operated correctly, the drills allow for utmost precision and efficient drilling. 

Need Low-Clearance Drilling? You Need the Right Crew and the Right Equipment

Since 1979, El Paso Drilling has provided Southwest Texas with top-notch professional drilling and excavation services. Whether it is for large or small construction projects, utility installations, or other needs, a precise and trusted drilling company keeps your project on time. 

Low-clearance drilling is a specialized drilling method needed for high-risk settings and work sites with low clearance space. 

Want to learn more about what we do here at El Paso Drilling? Call us today and learn more. 

What is Foundation Digging and Why is It Essential for Construction Integrity? 

When people think about the construction process, they mostly picture wooden or metal framing, walls being erected, roofs being installed, and drywall added. While all these processes are an important part of the construction world, the first fundamental step to a successful construction involves the ground on which the structure will go. 

So what exactly is foundation drilling and why is it so important? 

Exploring Foundation Digging in the Construction Industry 

There are different types of foundations. They can be classified as shallow or deep. Shallow foundations include individual footing, strip foundation, raft or mat foundation while deep foundations include piles or drilled shafts or caissons. 

A quick note about the different types of drilling:

  • Individual footing or isolated footing foundations are the most common type in building construction. The footing is squared or rectangular. 
  • Raft and mat foundations are spread throughout the entirety of the structure’s parameters. They are meant to support heavy structural loads from columns and walls.
  • Pile foundations are designed to transfer the heavy load of the structure to hard rock strata below the ground level. 
  • Drilled shafts are another type of deep foundation. They are high-capacity foundations that resist loads from the resistance of the shaft. Drilled shafts transfer large column loads. 

A Closer Look at Foundation Drilling

As a term, foundation drilling covers the general process of preparing a piece of land or site for construction. The process can be extensive or relatively simple—depending on the project at hand, the method being used, and the applications. The process usually involves a drill rig that bores a hole deep into the ground to insert piles or other structures, which are then used to build upon a foundation. 

Why Foundation Drilling Matters

Foundation drilling is essential to the construction process. It is mostly used for new construction, but can also be implemented in older structures. The basics of foundation drilling are straightforward, although the process itself is much more technical.

Bigger structures require a lot more foundation drilling than smaller structures because the bigger the building, the more it needs to secure it to the foundation. So professional drilling crews operate specialized machinery and drills that digs deeply into the earth. Then, they install the components needed to provide that stability, harnessing the stabilizing strength of the sediment layers and the soil itself. 

If you see a new construction project underway, the chances are there’s a drilling crew nearby. Whether it’s a residential home, office building, school, or bridge, the foundation must be set to secure the structure in the right way. 

A Few Examples of Projects and Their Foundations 

Let’s take a few examples of how foundation digging is the first step in any new construction project. 

  • Skyscrapers: The taller the building, the more in-depth and essential the foundation becomes. That is because the foundation carries the weight and stabilizes everything that goes above it. A slight shift in a shallow foundation can compromise an entire structural unit. This then necessitates costly repairs, but—more importantly—it can get dangerous.  A secure foundation is essential for longevity and safety. 
  • Utility poles: In order to safely install utility poles, a resistant borehole must be drilled deep into the earth’s surface. The boreholes need to firmly hold the poles taught. 
  • Residential homes: The foundations for residential homes have different requirements than those of a skyscraper. Many homes have shallow foundations. This means that they are just beneath the earth’s surface or sit on top of the earth’s surface. 

Why Expert Drilling is Important for Any Foundation 

Drilling into the earth to adequately prepare a lot for construction is not a walk in the park. It requires technical knowledge of soil, specialized skill with machinery, and the patience to never cut corners or skip essential steps. 

Here’s why a professional dig job is essential:

  • You want to prevent sinking. A bad foundation will sink when there is a shift in the ground. Sometimes, sinking can happen because of a storm, flooding, or earthquake, but it can also be a direct result of a subpar drilling job. A good drilling crew looks at the drilling jobs from all possible angles and considers all issues before they happen. 
  • You want to prevent cracks. Like sinking, cracks in the foundation need to be avoided. A bad drill job can manifest itself in a building through cracks in the walls. The cracking of the walls will indicate a poor foundation. Avoid this by choosing a professional foundation digging team. 
  • Avoid damaged or sagging floors. When there is a poor foundation job, floors can sag or crack as well. A sagging foundation means there are possible gaps between interior walls. 

Get Professional Drilling for Your Construction Project 

At El Paso Drilling, we perform different types of drilling work needed for construction projects or utility installation. Our crews are highly-trained and skilled at what they do. 

Want to learn more about our team? Call El Paso Drilling today

Considering Different Types of Dirt in Commercial Digs and Industrial Excavation 

A drill digging a hole

Dirt is complicated. It may not seem like it at first glance, but there is a lot going on in the soil. As drilling experts, we have to be aware of where we’re digging and what we’re digging for safety and environmental reasons. It’s not always clear-cut. There are plenty of safety issues and questions to consider regarding the soil before determining what drilling technique to use, what approach, and how to make it more efficient. 

Here are the basics. 

The pH Level of Soil and Why It Matters

If you ask experienced gardeners or farmers, they will tell you a little bit about how the pH of the soil affects what they do. In short, pH levels help when determining what to plant and not to plant in a particular patch of soil or to figure out what type of soil should be used to improve certain crops or plants. In commercial drilling, the nature of the soil matters too.

The pH level is the gauge of the hydrogen-ion concentration or the potential hydrogen in a particular substance. So the pH level measures the acidity or alkalinity of soil and can heavily impact the growth of plants or crops. This number affects the solubility of minerals and nutrients in the soil. About 14-17 essential plant nutrients are obtained from the soil. So, for the gardener, pH is a key factor in understanding how they will plant. 

The pH level of soil provides a lot of information about the properties of that soil. The pH can be determined by using a special pH meter.

How Does Soil pH Change?

Changes in the pH level happen naturally or artificially if substances get spread throughout the soil. Soil can become acidic, for example, through rainwater, carbon dioxide caused by decomposing matter, and the formation of strong organic or inorganic acids.

How Does the Soil Affect Excavation Methods? 

When it comes to drilling and excavation work, knowing the type of soil in question is an important part of our job. It not only improves safety but also affects the efficiency of the job. 

A Closer Look at the Drilling Process

When the equipment digs into the soil, it produces what are called drill cuttings. This refers to the broken bits of material that are produced and then removed from a borehole. This material is brought back to the surface with what is called the drilling mud. The mud is also called drilling fluid and it comes back up as part of the drilling process and is often examined to understand the nature of the soil at various depths. 

This process applies to commercial digging, as well as deep excavation for oil wells and other industrial purposes. 

Drilling fluid is an important and crucial ingredient to maximize the efficiency of a drilling crew. When it comes to certain types of commercial drilling, the nature of the soil will play a role in maintaining the integrity of the bore path. The drilling fluid provides lubrication and cools down the tools used in the dig. In many instances, the use of the drilling mud or drilling fluid helps to flush out the drill cuttings

The pH of soil comes into play from the effects of drill cuttings, as they can not only affect the digging process, but they can also change the acidity of the soil. The excavator is also tasked with the proper disposal of these drill cuttings to ensure environmental protection and integrity. 

Different Types of Soil When Digging 

The kind of soil in question during a dig can vary based on pH and other factors. After all, soil is a mixture of sand, silts, clay, air, gravel, and water. Soil in any given place will vary in its cohesiveness based on the amounts of these ingredients that apply. 

For example, sand and gravel are coarse-grained soils and are considered more granular. A highly cohesive soil will not crumble. The amount of clay in the soil will highly affect the digging process and how well trenches will hold up. 

OSHA classifies soils into four main categories including Solid Rock, Type B, Type A, and Type C. The classification of the soil becomes important when considering what technique and approach for drilling. 

Other Safety Considerations for Excavation Crews 

Drilling is a complex process that involves heavy machinery and a large crew. In addition to understanding the technical aspects of the machinery and how it interacts with the soil, the kind of soil that is being drilled into, there are safety considerations that every crew must consider. 

OSHA has stringent safety measures that must be taken when it comes to drilling and trenching, so understanding the types of soil plays a role in the types of safety measures and protocols an excavation crew will take. 

Choose the Pros for Commercial Cluster Drilling!

At El Paso Drilling, we specialize in commercial digging and cluster drilling. Our team is highly specialized in dealing with different types of soil classifications and ensuring compliance with environmental safety and worker safety.

Want to learn more? Call us today!