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Ground Investigations: Made Ground

Made Ground

What is Made Ground?

It’s very rare that a ground investigation on a potential development site doesn’t identify at least some depth of Made Ground overlying natural geological deposits. But what is Made Ground, and how does it affect a development?

Made Ground is essentially soil that has been subjected to anthropogenic intervention. It may be fill material (structural or landfill), reworked soils (as commonly found on arable land), or a combination of a variety of materials from past demolition, reworking and importing.

Unless it is imported, it is more than likely that the resulting ground conditions are variable. This means understanding the properties of the Made Ground on a site is critical for any development, to avoid unforeseen risks and costs.

For a ground investigation report, the two main issues are:

  • The structural (geotechnical) properties
  • The concentrations of potential contaminants (geo-environmental)

Structural Factors (Geotechnical)

Made Ground itself is a very variable concept, covering all the soil types affected by anthropogenic activities. As such, there is no standard structural description. In addition, by the very nature of Made Ground, it is unlikely to uniform across the site. This can lead to concerns such as settlement, differential settlement, heave, shrink/swell, and chemical attack.

Contamination (Geo-environmental)

Made Ground can present a variety of risks to human health and the environment. This may include the production of ground gasses (creating suffocation and explosive risks); exposure to asbestos (through old demolition rubble being used as fill); or exposure to, and leaching of harmful chemicals that are constituents of the Made Ground.

The Solution

Fortunately, the solution to managing Made Ground is well understood for geotechnical or contaminated land purposes. This starts with a thorough, site specific, ground investigation to identify the risks posed by the Made Ground, and provide information for design parameters and mitigation / remedial action.

agb Environmental has extensive experience identifying and managing the risks posed by Made Ground to developments. Ground investigations undertaken by agb Environmental have identified a significant variety of design and human health issues for developments including residential, commercial, industrial and education facilities.

For more information on ground investigations or on how Made Ground can pose a risk to your development, contact Simon Pike at agb Environmental on 01638 663226 or email

Geotechnical, News