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!