Pipeline Geohazards

For the past several decades, pipeline failures due to geohazards have resulted in highly publicized accounts of environmental harm, property damage, serious injury and death.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is requiring each operator to develop an Integrity Management Program (IMP) to properly identify and mitigate any geohazards that may be within a proposed pipeline right-of-way. Proper identification of geohazards early in the design process and implementation of mitigation measures are critical to prevent failure or significant damage to the pipeline. Appalachian Basin Geohazards Include: 

  • Landslides
  • Surface mining
  • Abandoned deep mine pools
  • Pittsburgh red beds
  • Ground subsidence and settling
  • Voids and karst-related features (i.e. sinkholes)
  • Freeze-thaw displacements
  • Soft/highly erodible soils

ARM’s engineers and geologists have extensive experience within the Appalachian Basin in identifying and providing a mitigation plan for these geohazards. Pipeline construction and management that takes place in locations susceptible to landslides, settlement, and within other geohazards have a significant risk of failure. Through a combination of Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, technical analysis, non-invasive surface investigations, and subsurface investigations, these risks can be characterized and safely managed. ARM’s experience and engineering approach towards geohazards will result in improved pipeline safety and potential cost savings without impacting the project schedule.

ARM / GSET Geohazards Management Services

Our team has extensive experience and technical knowledge of managing geohazards including:

  • Susceptibility Analysis
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Engineering Design
  • Modeling
  • Technical Specification and Bid Documents
  • Inspections, Operations, and Maintenance Consultation
  • Emergency Action Plans
  • Seepage Studies
  • Embankment Reinforcement
  • Temporary Shoring/Excavation Support
  • Field Inspection and Data Collection
  • Avoidance and Mitigation Recommendations
  • Mitigation Implementation and Monitoring
  • New and Rehabilitation Permitting
  • Hydrology and Hydraulic Modeling
  • Construction Administration and Quality Assurance
  • Laboratory Analysis
  • Borrow Area Investigation

Susceptibility Analysis

Susceptibility analyses consist of using multi-criteria decision methods within GIS. Criteria identified to cause geohazards are used to develop susceptibility maps showing areas at risk of geohazards. It aims to proactively identify geohazards to implement mitigation and management systems before issues develop. By evaluating geological, karst and landslide mapping in addition to historical online public data GIS can identify:

  • Mapped geohazards
  • Soils & bedrock formation
  • Depth to groundwater
  • Surface/underground mining

Field Survey, Subsurface Investigation & Laboratory Analysis

ARM’s field programs are designed to confirm location and limits of geohazards acknowledged in the desktop analysis, to collect site-specific data, and to perform seepage studies (as needed). Based on the findings of the desktop review, the evaluation process may require a subsurface investigation to confirm the presence of geohazards. The investigation process may include geophysical methods, exploratory test pits by hand or excavator, or advancing exploratory borings. Combining geophysical methods with direct earth measurements from test-bore drilling allows for state-of-the-art interpretation of the top of bedrock surface and the detection of potential subsurface hazards. ARM can also perform in-house geotechnical laboratory analysis of field samples.

Mitigation Recommendations and Reporting

ARM will prepare a report summarizing the field findings. ARM’s engineering analysis will define the geotechnical hazards and the report will include recommendations on how to avoid or mitigate these hazards so our clients can properly manage challenging landscapes and provide long-term safety for our environment.

Mitigation Implementation and Monitoring

ARM can provide on-site assistance in the event of a geohazards incident during and after construction including:

  • Embankment Reinforcement
  • Temporary Shoring / Excavation Support
  • Inspections, Operations, and Maintenance Consultation
  • Construction Administration and Quality Assurance
  • Monitoring:  Visual Inspections, Inclinometers, and Topo Surveys