Skip to content

Why undertaking proper earthworks is crucial in civil engineering projects

In civil engineering, earthwork considerations are generally the first step in the construction process for both the engineers and architects, especially if they are building a structure from scratch. Civil construction from the ground up is a highly detailed process in the first place and any physical restrictions of the chosen landscape can present challenges. This is where earthworks come into the equation.

Earthworks allow for the renderings of the landscape to be calculated accurately, as well as any architectural and design limitations. It also determines the stability of the soil, gradients and where water will flow. These are all integral parts of the construction engineering process to ensure a safe, functional and durable structure.

Earthwork terminology in civil construction

Earthwork calculations also aid in assessing the need for soil inversion, which reduces or eliminates the need to export soil and materials off-site. However, before venturing into the types of calculations used, it is beneficial to understand three common terms associated with earthwork.

  • Earthwork: Used primarily in civil engineering, earthwork refers to projects where the result is created through moving and/or processing of massive quantities of soil or unformed rock.
  • Cutting: The desired topography that has been acquired by exporting earth material from the site.
  • Filling: The desired topography that has been acquired by importing earth material into the site.

Earthwork calculations

The success of earthworks comes down to the accuracy of the calculations. With advancements in technology, acquiring accurate earthworks calculations has been drastically simplified. Modern-day tools, including GPS, Microsoft Excel and other computer software, have redefined how earthwork calculations are made. 

There are three main methods for determining earthworks calculations: 

Average Method

This method is used to find out the levels at each grid point. However, the average method can only be used in tandem with cutting or filling. 

The difference between the average of two sets of levels multiplied by the area gives the result.

Block Method

The block method is achieved when the volume of cutting or filling is found out for each block and added together to get the final volume.

It is considered to be more accurate than the average method.

Section method

The section method provides the most accurate of results, yet requires the most advanced mathematical skill or software program. It is commonly used for larger civil construction areas.

The method requires sections to be drawn for each line of value – with the area of cutting and filling calculated for each section. Volume is then determined by multiplying the average area with the distance between sections. 
AWD Civil are the experts in civil engineering projects, managing and planning many projects in Queensland and New South Wales. If you have a project that we can assist in, contact our team at 07 3200 5766.

Scroll To Top