Notes for the .xlsm spreadsheet (with additional reference to the text below):
- The Australian additions/changes can be viewed by filtering on the Status column on Groups sheet and Version column on Headings sheet. A value including AU was added or edited in the Australian localisation.
- For reference: A Group is like a table in a database and a Heading is like a column/field in a database
- An .ags file is a ‘CSV-like’ file that can be opened in a text editor, Excel, or geotechnical software package (e.g., gINT with Datgel DGD Tool, gINT, Holebase, etc. see: https://www.ags.org.uk/data-format/software/ )
Reference Material and supporting links
AGS-UK explanation of format: https://www.ags.org.uk/data-format/ags4-data-format/ags-4-1-data-format/
Further information and guidance on AGS 4.1 AU: https://github.com/australiangeomechanics/agsformat/wiki
AGS 4.1 AU questions/forum: https://github.com/australiangeomechanics/agsformat/discussions
Report a defect or suggest a feature for AGS 4.1 AU: https://github.com/australiangeomechanics/agsformat/issues
The committee plans to publish a standalone digital document and guidance here (on this page).
Background to the proposed Australian Localisation
The industry generally recognises that receiving electronic data in a standard format will save time and money and will eliminate transcription errors. It allows clients and consultant engineers to import the data into their software of choice without significant manipulation to produce logs, maps, sections, and graphs. In the current digital climate, a standard format facilitates the creation of 3D geotechnical models, parametric studies, and consideration of machine learning applications.
The release of AGS 3.1 RTA 1.1 in 2007 established a transfer format based on the Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists AGS 3.1/3.2 but with the inclusion of a more granularized treatment of soil and rock types for Australia (see https://roads-waterways.transport.nsw.gov.au/business-industry/partners-suppliers/design-documents/geotechnical-information.html). Wide adoption of AGS 3.1 RTA 1.1 outside of NSW did not follow and the result in Australia has been a variation in the treatment of data (i.e., non-standardised transfer formats), with different versions of the UK-based AGS 3 and then AGS 4 formats adopted for different projects.
The Australian localisation aims to consider a) feedback on AGS 3.1 RTA 1.1, b) development in the United Kingdom as implemented in AGS 4 and then AGS 4.1 in December 2020, and c) updates to the Australian Standard for Geotechnical Investigations (AS1726-2017). The localisation also includes support for lab tests used on projects in Australia including many tests for tunnelling in rock.
Sometimes at odds from the beginning of the discussions were:
- a desire to simplify, and more specifically to minimise any differences from AGS 4/AGS 4.1 in a manner similar to what was implemented by our colleagues in the New Zealand Geotechnical Society in 2017; and,
- a desire to maintain the option of granularity that was created for AGS 3.1 RTA 1.1 and that can align well with current digital ambitions.
A working group was convened in August 2019 to collect and review input from different consultancies and asset owners. This working group included:
- Simon Baldock – SMEC
- Craig Butterworth – CMW
- Stephen Durham – Golder Associates
- Simon Foley – (formerly) Qld Transport and Main Roads
- Michael Hughes – Transport for NSW
- Reagan Newton – Transport for NSW
- David Och – WSP
- Jared Priddle – FSG
- Rachael Prosser – (formerly) Coffey
- Tim Swavley – (formerly) Douglas Partners
- Tim Thompson – AGS National/Arup
- Sven Thorin – Transport for NSW
- Phil Wade – Datgel
- Helen Warr – GHD
- Brian Tracey – NZGS/Datatran (Observer)
A draft was progressed in 2020 and 2021 by a smaller committee from the working group with a clear understanding by all that nothing will make everyone happy. Feedback on the draft from the working group and wider AGS community was collected in 2021 and the format is now issued for implementation.
GEOL Material Description Models
Relating to the points noted above, the single largest modification adopted is the incorporation of many of the inputs from the AGS 3.1 RTA 1.1 GOS/GOR groups into a single expanded GEOL group. The geological description is always consolidated under a single heading (GEOL_DESC) in this group and the individual ‘granular’ headings are optional as part of an extended GEOL group, depending upon the amount of granularity preferred for a particular project. Other groups are used for soil moisture condition, soil consistency and density, rock weathering and rock strength.
As described in the excel file on sheet ‘GEOL Example’, the committee has proposed two description models for GEOL:
- Simplified GEOL: mimics the data arrangement required to present data on a typical Australian borehole log. Notably, it includes new headings for classification symbol and origin.
- Extended GEOL: Has separate headings for each component of a material description, and many headings have lookup lists comprising the terms defined in AS 1726-2017. It allows for the description of 2 materials in one layer, the second material is referred to as ‘composite’ or ‘2’. Further, it has been designed to store data as required to programmatically produce a correct material description to AS 1726-2017, and lends itself to digital data collection on tablets in the field.
The Extended GEOL table permits data receivers to use the material description data in the following ways:
- To extract the material name only from a description, which could be displayed beside the bore stick on a cross section, or on a summary log.
- To filter on specific components for specific material types, for example the grain size of sandstone rocks.
- To reproduce log reports with material description presented to an in-house standard.
- To form a 3D or 2D model of specific components, such as primary material name or uniformity.
License to use AGS Format
Your organisation should be registered with AGS UK to use this format. The 2021 fee for “Company and their employees (non AGS trade member)” is £150 per company per year.