What is Geo Synthetics – Definition, Application, Limitation

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Generally, geosynthetic refers to a product that is made from polymeric material and is applied as a key component in a structure or system to achieve engineering purposes. The prefix “geo” suggests whose application has to do with soil, rock, and/or earth. There are some basic functions of geosynthetics namely separation, reinforcement, filtration, drainage, containment, barrier, surface erosion control, and protection; any geosynthetic product is expected to provide one or more of the functions. Applications of geosynthetics are mostly found in civil, transportation, geotechnical, environmental, hydraulics, marine, and private development engineering including roads, railroads, embankment, retaining walls, canals, erosion control, waste landfill, land reclamation, breakwaters, jetties, groins, revetments, aquaculture, agriculture, and mining. However, with the development of related products, the applicable range of geosynthetics can extend to areas other than the above mentioned.

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Definition and Purpose

Geo-synthetic is defined as a planar product manufactured from a polymeric material that is used with soil, rock, or other geotechnical-related material as an integral part of a civil engineering project, structure, or system. Most Geosynthetics are made from synthetic polymers of polypropylene, polyester, or polyethylene. Geosynthetic products available today include, but are not limited to, geo-webs, geogrids, geonets, geomeshes, geocomposites, and geotextiles.

Geotextile is a permeable Geo-synthetic made of textile materials. Geotextile type is determined by the method used to combine the filaments or tapes into the planar structure.

Appropriate Applications

Geo-synthetic applications are normally defined by the primary function of the following:

  • Filtration: Geo-synthetics can be used as filters to prevent soils from migrating into the adjacent material, such as drainage aggregate while allowing water to flow through the system (e.g., the use of geotextile in trench drains, silt fence, etc.).
  •  Drainage: Geotextiles or geocomposites can be used as drainage, or conduit, by allowing water to drain from or through low-permeability soils.
  • Separation: Geo-synthetics can be used as a separator to separate the two dissimilar materials and prevent them from mixing, such as the use of geotextile between the fine-grained subgrade and granular base course below a roadway.
  •  Reinforcement: Geogrids or geotextiles can be used as reinforcement to increase the shear strength of soils, thereby providing a more competent structural material. Examples of this application include the use of geogrid to reinforce a steep slope or to strengthen a base course in a pavement system.
  • Erosion control: Geo-synthetics can be used to minimize the movement of soil particles due to the flow of water. An example of this application is geotextile used between riprap and the stream bank to minimize erosion of soil below the riprap.


The primary advantages of Geo-synthetics are: Relatively low cost for many applications Ease and convenience for many applications Quick and effective protection against erosion problems Design methodologies are available for many uses Wide variety of Geo-synthetic products are available to meet specific needs May be removed and reused if economically feasible


  • Effectiveness may be reduced drastically if the Geo-synthetic is not properly selected, designed, or installed.
  • Many Geosynthetics are sensitive to light degradation and must be protected prior to installation.
  • Geo-synthetics that are not degradable should not be used where their presence or appearance is aesthetically unacceptable.

Design Parameters

  •  For geotextiles used in applications such as drainage, erosion control, silt fence, or separation, refer to the Standard Specifications for material property requirements.
  •  For other Geo-synthetic materials, follow manufacturers’ recommendations.
  • Call the Geotechnical Engineer at ITD Headquarters for help in selecting Geosynthetics for appropriate design and application.

Construction Guidelines For Geo-synthetic materials, follow manufacturers’ recommendations.

Maintenance and Inspection

  • Conduct inspections as required by the NPDES permit or contract specifications during construction.
  • Periodic inspection and maintenance will be required based on post-construction site conditions.
  •  Make any repairs necessary to ensure the measure is operating properly.
  •  If Geo-synthetic is damaged or missing, repairs or replacements shall be made immediately to restore full protection.
  • Geo-synthetics used for temporary erosion control may be removed and reused if this can be done without leaving the area susceptible to erosion.

I hope this article will help you. You may also want to see my other post from my blog.  If I have missed anything here, please let me know about that in the comment below this post.

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