Engineers Australia

AGS 4.1 AU 0.5

Notes for the .xlsm spreadsheet (with additional reference to the text below):

  1. The Australian additions/changes can be viewed by filtering on the Source columns on the Headings and Group sheets.  If the value is blank or 4.1, that is an AGS 4.1 standard.  Anything else was added in the Australian localisation.
  2. For reference:  A Group is like a table in a database and a Heading is like a column/field in a database
  3. An .ags file is a ‘CSV-like’ file that can be opened in a text editor, Excel, or geotechnical software package (eg. gINT, Holebase, etc.)


AGS-UK explanation of format:

AGS 3.1 RTA 1.1:

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 but with the inclusion of a more granularized treatment of soil and rock types for Australia.  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 AGS3 and then AGS4 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:

  1. 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, 
  2. 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.

The opinions of different people from consultancies and asset owners were considered in this process, and a draft was progressed in 2019 and 2020 with a clear understanding by all that nothing will make everyone happy.  Relating to the points noted above, the single largest modification adopted for this draft 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 now consolidated under a single heading in this group and the individual ‘granular’ headings are optional, depending upon the amount of granularity preferred for a particular project.  More specifically, for those who wish to align the localisation with AGS 4.1 as much as possible, the GEOL table can include under 20 headings.  Conversely, for those who have adopted and prefer to continue the granularity afforded by AGS 3.1 RTA 1.1, approximately 80 headings in the group can be adopted (admittedly many, but for computers to negotiate in the end).   

If relevant to your work, please review the draft localisation spreadsheet and example AGS file posted to the web page below within your respective organisations and provide feedback directly to the same web page by cob on Friday 28 May 2021.  Note that the spreadsheet file includes a ‘GEOL_EXAMPLE’ sheet that demonstrates how several rock and soil samples could be represented.  TheExample AGS file is included primarily to support those examples in the ‘GEOL_EXAMPLE’ sheet but is technically non-compliant because it lacks complete DICT, UNIT, TYPE, and ABBR data.


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