Slip Season Challenges and Solutions: Q&A With LDG’s Dave Hooper

Large land or rockslides can cause extensive damage to roads and homesbut smaller-scale occurrences known as shallow slips pose their own set of challenges – especially in the spring, when snowmelt and rainfall threaten to oversaturate the ground. 

Dave Hooper, Senior Technical Manager with the Larson Design Group (LDG) Geotechnical team, answered some questions about these slips and how LDG uses portable, cost-effective technology to mitigate the problems they cause.  

What is a “shallow slip” and what danger do they pose? 

Shallow slips are when top layers of soil, usually up to a few feet deep, become saturated with water and slide down a slope or hillside. They’re a common occurrence in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio because of the types of soil and underlying bedrock in the region, and they’re especially common along pipeline rights-of-way and access roads.  

These slips, while not as large as what we think of as “landslides,” can disrupt drainage on these rights-of-way, roads, well pads, and more. Over time, if not properly addressed, they can become larger slides and create long-term issues 

How can shallow slips be assessed? 

LDG has extensive experience accessing these small slips in several ways: basic mappingfield reconnaissance that further identifies scarps, cracks and bulges; and collecting subsurface data. The latter is especially important, because it measures the strengththickness and depths of subsurface stratasBecause it usually involves drilling into the soil, it can be a costly, disruptive process to collect this subsurface data. 

What can LDG do to make the process easier and more affordable? 

LDG’s expert field teams use a Wildcat Dynamic Cone Penetrator, or DCP, which provides basic information about soils and rock on the site. The Wildcat DCP is hand-held and easy to transport to any site, eliminating the high costs of drill rig mobilization, site clearing or disturbance. 

What solutions does LDG offer to address shallow slips?  

These slips can be too numerous to study in detail, but they can be corrected with improved drainage, proper grading and revegetation. Using the data collected with the DCP, LDG can determine options and create specialized plans for our clients that allow for effective pricing and repairs. Contractors can prepare prices based on our drawings and there can be verification that proper repairs are completed to limit the need to keep going back and repairing the area again. 

Click here to learn more about our geotechnical engineering solutions. 

Founded in 1986, Larson Design Group is a national, award‐winning, 100 percent employee-owned architecture, engineering and consulting firm with 12 offices in five states and a vision to elevate client relationships, enrich the careers and lives of its employee-owners, and enhance the communities in which it operates. For more information, visit 

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