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Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering that deals with soil, rock, underground water, and their relation to the design, construction, and operation of engineering projects. Nearly all civil engineering projects must be supported by the ground, and thus require at least some geotechnical engineering.


Forensic geotechnical engineering is the investigation of geotechnical materials, and structures that fail or do not function as intended, resulting in personal injury or property loss.  Typical geotechnical structures include retaining walls, shallow foundations, piles and slopes. 

Our team includes chartered civil and geotechnical engineers, registered professional geotechnical engineers and chartered geologists.

  • To handle the variety of ground-related cases, we offer broad expertise in geotechnical engineering, geology and engineering geology.   
  • To handle the complexity of ground-related cases our experts have years of experience in the design of such structures and in their failure investigation, including geotechnical back-analysis, post-incident remediation and mitigation design.
  • We also have the full range of civil and structural engineers and hydrologists to work closely with our geotechnical experts where cases require a multi-disciplinary approach.
  • Hawkins also provides in-depth third-party review, pre-loss risk assessment, project consulting and expert witness services for the insurance, construction and legal industries.

As well as failure investigation, Hawkins geotechnical engineers can provide pre-failure risk assessment and post-failure remedial advice.

  • We can review your designs and method statements to provide confidence in their suitability, including in their compliance with CDM regulations, to prevent failures occurring in the first place.
  • We can visit your live sites to advise on health and safety matters and identify potential hazards.
  • If you have suffered a loss, we can review the mitigation works and designs to ensure the failure does not re-occur.

Examples of Typical cases

If you would like to know if we can help, please fill out our enquiry form or give us a call for a free consultation. The list below provides a few examples of cases which we investigate regularly or have investigated in the past.


Our geotechnical experts use our training and experience combined with the latest technology to carry out investigations and our capabilities include:

Related areas of expertise

Civil & Structural Engineering

Whether it is a subsiding foundation, a collapsing structure or a flooding drainage system, it can be hard to understand at first glance what part of a large system has gone wrong.

Flooding & Hydrology

Flooding is the most significant disaster risk in the UK. Flooding is estimated to cost the economy about £1 billion per year. More frequent, more intense storms resulting from climate change, and inappropriate developments in floodplains will put more people and property at risk in the future and will increase the impact of flooding. It is projected that the annual cost of flooding could be up to four times higher by the end of the century.