Excavation Types

Whether you’re working on a residential or commercial project, excavation can be a big part of the process. Excavation involves digging and moving soil, rocks, or other materials to create the foundations for structures, drainage ditches, bridges and more. There are many types of excavation and each one can be used for a different purpose. To make sure your construction project goes as smoothly as possible, it’s important to know the differences between these excavation types. 

Muck Excavation 

Muck is a combination of liquid (usually water) and dirt that makes it difficult to build on, and often undesirable as well. Muck excavation removes this material to either move it to another area or spread it out to dry up. This type of excavation is most commonly performed on large-scale projects and can be done with a digger or vacuum excavator, depending on what your end goal is. 

Topsoil Excavation 

Topsoil is a thin layer of soil that sits above the surface of the ground. It’s generally considered to be less than 12 inches deep and is not suitable for bearing the weight of a building or other structure. This type of excavation is generally used to clean up areas that have been impacted by storms or other weather conditions, and can be used as fill for embankments, elevated sections and more. 

Borrow Excavation 

If your construction project requires you to bring in materials from outside the building site, this is referred to as borrow excavation. You can use this method for backfilling previously excavated areas, filling in grading or installing an embankment, and you may also be able to use it for making concrete. 

Channel Excavation 

When you’re creating a channel for the flow of water, it’s important to clear out any sediment that may impede the flow. This type of excavation is most common in rivers and shallow ocean passages for the purpose of removing sediment that makes it difficult to pass boats without getting stuck. 

Rock Excavation 

Rock is more challenging to excavate than other material and may require specialized equipment to break it up and remove it before excavation can occur. Using drills or explosives, rock can be broken up and removed so that construction projects can proceed. 

Trench Excavation 

Trench excavation is a common way to bury service lines, install pipelines and sewer systems, and lay foundations. This type of excavation involves digging trenches that are both shallow and deep, depending on the application. Shallow trenches are usually less than 6 m deep, and deep trenches are more than 6 m deep. 

Unclassified Excavation 

Unclassified excavation is usually used by contracting agencies to remove any materials that are not classified as topsoil, earth, rock or muck. Typically, this kind of excavation is only done in large-scale projects as it requires the most efficient equipment to perform. The methods used for this type can vary between contractors, and it’s important to discuss your project with an expert before deciding on the appropriate excavation strategy.