One might assume that geosynthetics and the use of them are fairly new to the world but to my discovery geosynthetics of different types have been used for thousands of years. For example, woven fabrics were used in the days of the Pharaoh’s to stabilize roadways and Egyptians incorporated straw mats in the foundations of the pyramids. They were actually using early forms of geotextiles made of natural fibers, fabrics, and vegetation mixed with soil to create better reinforcement.
Reinforcement in reference to geosynthetics means it is, “the synergistic improvement of a total system’s strength.” The Egyptians and Romans realized early that mortar modular units and soil reinforcement elements were necessary to realize their architectural dreams.
Motarless modular units and soil reinforcement elements used by Ancient civilizations were used to create not only the Egyptian pyramids but also tall structures called Ziggurats, such as the Leaning Tower of Babel which was built using modular facing units and soil reinforcing elements of woven reeds. It has also been discovered that portions of the Great Wall of China used soil reinforcement elements made of tamarsisk branches.
It’s amazing how ancient civilizations, being so new to constructing strong and substantial architecture had such an extensive understanding that they needed reinforcing materials to build and sustain their structures.
Researchers have discovered that the survival of many ancient structures proves that civilizations before us understood how reinforced soils functioned; time has proven the long-term strength of such structures.
We at ILT work with a more, shall we say, modernversion of what the ancient civilizations used. “Geotextiles form one of the two largest groups of geosynthetic materials. Their rise in growth during the past 30 years has been nothing short of awesome.” Modern textiles still have the same concepts as the traditional textiles but now also consist of synthetic fibers rather than natural ones like cotton, wool, or silk. “Bio degradation and subsequent short lifetime is not a problem.” Modern versions of geotextile fibers are made into flexible, porous fabrics by using standard weaving machinery and some are matted together in a random non-woven manner or are even knitted together.
“There are at least 100 specific application areas for geotextiles that have been developed; however, the fabric always performs at least one of four discrete functions; separation, reinforcement, filtration and/or drainage.”
ILT has recently used geotextiles for projects such as the Carlotta Copper Mine and will be using them for the Drop 2 Reservoir project. At the Carlotta Copper Mine, cushion geotextiles were used to protect the geosynthetic liner from over burden materials. At Drop 2, we will be using separator geotextiles to separate and protect the geosynthetic liner from the soil-cement.
So now you know that ILT really does have something in common with the Egyptians…besides all being incredibly intelligent and good-looking. Firstly, we are passionate about contributing to the creation of structures that can withstand the challenges that our environment produces. And lastly, we all use geotextiles to reinforce, separate, and protect our cherished architectural masterpieces.