Soft options needed firming up
Kuwait’s huge Mubarak Al Kabeer port project had “very difficult” ground conditions says Bob Gascoigne of Royal Haskoning. Soft clay and silt went down 25 metres, so dredging it all out was uneconomic to say the least.
The only thing was to leave it in place, but constructing a new port on top of soft soil was always going to be challenging. “You have both the potential for slope failure and you have to surcharge it and allow the soil to compress between each stage of construction, explains Mr Gascoigne, who added that it was carried out in three, two-month surcharging operations with a six month period at the end.
Then there was the quay itself, which also had to cope with the problems of a soil that wasn’t too much stiffer than a heavy porridge. So, Royal Haskoning, under the auspices of main contractor Hyundai, decided to deep mix cement with the clay to form a 45 metre wide, 25 metre deep swathe running behind the 1.2km quay wall.
Behind this was an 1.8km area of band draining and surcharging to drive the water out of the soft clay, but even this wasn’t easy as the area needed a lot of sand for the fill, and even more for the surcharging operation – which meant sourcing a lot of it from the centre of Kuwait, over an hour’s drive away. “There were a lot of truck movements involved in simply gaining the sand,” says Mr Gascoigne, but this kind of project, with difficult technical requirements, “is getting more and more common”.
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