Gabion Structures

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Gabions Commonly used for earth retention and erosion control, Gabions are rectangular, compartmented baskets made of heavy gauge galvanized wire mesh. The compartments are filled with stones. Diaphragms between the compartments help to maintain the baskets uniform shape and to evenly distribute the stone infill. Special fasteners are used to close and secure the Gabions, preventing movement of the stone and maintaining the integrity of the system. They are available in a variety of sizes that can be easily connected to create any configuration required. Unlike rigid structures, Gabions remain flexible and are well suited to projects over unstable foundations. They possess tremendous strength and require little maintenance. Gabions remain permeable, limiting the need for costly drainage provisions and promote growth of vegetation. GSI carries Terra Aqua Gabions. Made in America, Terra Aqua Gabions utilize a double twisted wire mesh for superior strength, durability and flexibility. Terra Aqua
Gabions can also be ordered with a PVC coating.

Have you ever wondered when driving and you saw tones of stones or rocks filled in a basket of wire mesh? That structure is called the gabion wall.
You can see this structure near the stream, embankments or road.
What does the gabion wall do? And why use gabion wall? Well, one of the functions of gabion wall is for slope stability, which is to support and protect slope from erosion. Like other retaining structures, gabion wall has its advantages and limitations too.
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Advantages

  1. Strong base that provides strength from being drag away by river or stream.
  2. Reduce velocity of water as the energy dissipated by the rocks, thus reduce erosion.
  3. Its flexibility gives allowance to small ground movement.
  4. In most cases, as time goes, voids will be filled by vegetations and silt which will reinforce the structure and give extra strength.
  5. Depends on the availability of material and equipments, handling and transporting material is easy and this reduce the time of construction.
  6. Voids can be easily seen between the rocks which makes high permeability to the gabion wall. It allows water to flow through the structure which can maintain the water level in the ground (Groundwater level) to be low.

Limitations

  1. Aesthetic impression is minimal. In a town area, where slope is supported by the gabion wall, the wire mesh basket can be seen and sometimes the rocks were surrounded by algae. However, there are some types of gabion wall that have high aesthetic impression and of course the cost will also be higher.
  2. In a high velocity of flow, wire mesh could damage due to high impact of large object.
The advantages and limitations depend on the site condition, availability of material and equipment/machine, and also manpower. 
Site Condition
Site can be access by heavy machine. If it is near a river or stream, the depth of the river or stream should not exceed the depth that causes the machine to damage. The ground must also have a strength that is can support the weight of a heavy machine. For soft ground, if the cost is too high or if the volume is too large to remove the soft soil, then geosynthetic mattress might be required to increase the strength for the ground. 
Availability of Material
Location of quarry, and place for manufacturing the wire mesh which allows ease of transportation to the site is a good indicator of utilizing gabion structure.
Equipments / Machine
The accessibility of the site condition (ease of transportation to the site), and the equipment/machines are available at that area. 
Manpower
Apart from operating the machines, most of the time filling and fastening the wire mesh basket is also done by hand.
There are more retaining structures other than gabion wall, such as reinforced concrete retaining wall and bored pile retaining wall. It requires a good decision making process to choose the best retaining structures. Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) is one of the decision making tool being utilized for decision making in this case.

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Advantages of Gabions

Flexibility
An outstanding advantage of the gabion is its flexibility. Its double-twist hexagonal mesh construction permits it to tolerate differential settlement without fracture. this property is especially important when a structure is on unstable groung or in an area where scour from waves or currents can undermine it.

Strength
The strength and flexibility of the steel wire hexagonal mesh from which gabions and mattress are made is utilized to withstand and absorb the forces generated by retained earth or flowing water.

Permeability
Hydrostatic heads do not develop behind gabion structures because of their permeable nature. Their ability to combine drainage and retention functions make them ideal structure for slope stabilization.

Durability
A Geo gabion or Reno mattress is a heavy monolithic gravity unit able to withstand earth thrust. Its efficiency increases instead of decreasing with age since further consolidation takes place as silt and soil collect in the voids and vegetation establishes itself.

Ecology
Because gabions permit the growth of vegetation and maintain the existing environment, they provide attractive and natural building blocks for decorative landscaping.

Economy
Gabion installations are more economical than rigid or semi-rigid structures for a number of reasons. the following are the most important ones :

* Little maintenance is required.
* Gabion construction is simple, does not require skilled labour.
* Suitable stone fill is available normally on site or from nearby quarries.
* Minimum foundation preparation is required, the surface needs to be only reasonably plane.
* No costly drainage provision is required, as gabions are permeable


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