Problem Soils In Northern Virginia

Problem Soils In Northern Virginia2018-08-08T13:46:53+00:00

Problem Soils In Northern Virginia

map of problem soils Northern VirginiaProblem Soils In Northern Virginia are most often found in areas east of 95 and 395. Though problem soils can occur in other areas of Northern Virginia. When trying to pull a building permit in Fairfax County, Arlington County, or Prince William County Virginia you may find a situation where a licensed soil and structure engineer will be required to conform to the codes to pull a building permit. Most often we require a soil and structure engineer to pull permits for foundation problems, deflecting basement block walls, and any type of new construction. There are around 108 different soil types in Northern Virginia.

Types Of Problematic Soils in Northern Virginia

The types Problematic Soils in Northern Virginia include:

Marine clay which is a type of soil found in Northern Virginia that contains clay’s that swell upon wet conditions and shrink upon periods of drought.  This Marine Clay is called Bentonite and can cause damage to basement and foundation footer failure. You and Fairfax Contractor may find that your home was built on problematic soils that can greatly affect the stability of the structure of your home. Many homes built in Northern Virginia, had their foundations built on the so-called problematic soils that exist here in our County. Probably the biggest concern is Marine clay which is prevalent in many areas of the county’s in Northern Virginia is to get a building permit. Marine clay is problematic because it contains a type of clay called Montmorillontite. Montmorillontite clay will expand during periods of very high levels of rain, yet when we experience drought, this clay tends to shrink. The problem with Marine clay is that it can cause havoc in your home’s foundation. Marine clay’s are made up of varieties of silty and clay soils that were formed during the geological era known as the Cretaceous Potomac era. Though many people call these Marine clay’s just that, they were really formed in our area where brackish waters deposited this type of soil condition many eons ago. These soil conditions, cannot only cause problems internally to your home’s foundation but can also create exterior drainage issues in the yard of your home. When building an addition, new home, retaining wall, stoop or many other structures, you may be held up getting a building permit when you go through the site process of getting a permit. At this point, Fairfax Contractor may have to employ the expertise of a geotechnical engineer or to design a plan to build on these problematic soils.


One type of problematic soil found in Northern Virginia is the infamous SASSAFRAS MARUMSCO COMPLEX. This is a type soil that soil and structure engineers need to deal with
in designing construction projects. Sassafras soil is a common type of soil found in many parts of Northern Virginia. The second part of this combination of soil is referred
to as the MARUMSCO COMPLEX which is basically Marine clay. Marine clay is some of the most problematic soils to deal with in Northern Virginia when designing a construction project.

For More Information About Problem Soils

For more information on how to waterproof your Northern Virginia basement click this link.

If you live in Alexandria Virginia, Fairfax County.  Lorton, Woodbridge, or parts of Arrington County there are areas that have expansive soil conditions. There is a chance that the soils around your house are expansive clay. In these areas of Northern Virginia with problem soils, we will need a soil and structural engineer to design your project. Geotechnical investigations shall be conducted in accordance with Section 1803.2 and reported in accordance with Section 1803.6 in Virginia. Other problem soils in Northern Virginia are found in a small finger area running from Chantilly up to Oakton Virginia.