Earthquakes and Helical Piles

Helical Piles

As mentioned in a previous post, helical piers are “a helical pier is a steel shaft with round helix plates that provides a foundation support for various types of structures.” Well, the term helical pier is interchangeable with a helical pile.

Another way to think about helical piles it that they are like a large steel soil screw. They spin into the ground with a large torque motor and provide support as the soil surrounds the plates and along the shaft. They come in many lengths and are often the foundation of choice for retrofitting existing or new buildings. As mentioned in the other post, they leave a small footprint and create minimal disturbance to surrounding structures.


High-risk areas require helical piles. The earthquake simulator in San Diego put the helical piles to the test. They hope to save lives and money.

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma and UC San Diego were in San Diego. Putting helical piles to the test.

They used the Englekirk Center for Structural Engineering in Kearny Mesa to test the piles.

The Englekirk Center is home to the world’s largest outdoor shake table, which can be used to simulate massive earthquakes.

Amy Cerato, Ph.D. said, “so [the waves] starts out at the bottom and it’s going crazy and by the time it gets to the top [to the building], it’s dampened enough so the building doesn’t feel those loads.”

“It can be used under homes to minimize damage or under pools to minimize cracking and things like that,” she said.

“It’s not a question of if there would be an earthquake or not; it’s a question of when,” said UC San Diego professor Joel Conte, Ph.D.

Although Illinois isn’t known to have frequent earthquakes, there are occasions towards central and southern Illinois were they to happen. So not only are helical piles good to use on wet and soft soil, but also in zones that are at risk for earthquakes. Eco-friendly, installation is fairly quick, doesn’t produce spoils, and no need for concrete.


helical piles - concrete foundation repair

If your building’s concrete foundation is cracking or has damages, call us today at 815-363-8493 or fill out our contact form.

Comments are closed.