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The Most Common Soil Types Dredgers Encounter

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The average dredge can move incredible amounts of material in a matter of minutes, often at a speed much faster than other machines. There is a myriad of different kinds of dredgers, all utilized across a litany of projects. From project to project, dredges and their operators may experience a wide variety of soil conditions and materials. Join US Aqua Services as we outline some of the most common soil types that dredgers encounter.

Understand The Type Of Soil

Before a dredger can be brought into a work site, often an on-site visit is scheduled where a surveyor looks at the soil and determines its classification. Grains size is often the first step in classifying the soil. Soil can consist of boulders, cobbles, gravels, sands, silts, clays, peats, and organic soils. Soils are generally made up of three different grain sizes, which are then averaged to create a mean particle diameter. By using this mean particle diameter, surveyors can confidently suggest which dredging machine will be most appropriate for that particular project. Typically, dredgers are most commonly used to move sand, gravel, silts, and clay materials.


Sand has nothing binding it together, making it a loose, or incoherent, soil. Nothing is holding the sand together or keeping it bonded to the water. This makes sand incredibly easy for dredgers to move. Sand is used in a variety of projects around the world, perhaps most notably in beach reclamation projects.


Gravel is easily identified and is typically small in size. Larger pieces of gravel are reclassified as cobbles or boulders. Like sand, gravel is an incoherent soil, making it ideal for dredging via a suction dredge. But because of the increased size and weight of gravel, larger dredgers are required. Similar to sand, gravel is utilized in construction projects of all sizes and in all locations.


Nearly invisible, silt is made of very fine grains. There are two major kinds of silt, and each exhibits properties that make it important to have the proper dredger. Coarse silt is akin to sand and is easily suctioned with a dredger. However, fine silt is more like clay and sticks together to create pockets and patches of silt. A stronger dredger, like a cutter, will be needed to remove fine silt patches. Silt types can mix together and will adopt the properties of fine silt.


Clay is very dense and flexible, making it difficult for standard suction dredgers to remove patches of clay. Cutter dredgers and other machinery are required to dig out the clay soil. Once removed, it can be broken apart and pumped into a nearby hopper to move it to a disposal site.

Choose US Aqua Services For Your Next Project

No matter what kind of soil you’re working with during your next project, you can trust the dredging experts at US Aqua Services to make quick work of it. We offer a wide variety of dredging services, and can even rent you the dredging equipment you need. Contact us today to schedule a site visit and to find out more.