Course on Hydraulic Fill

'This course covers the initiation, design and construction of hydraulic fill projects as described in the recently published Hydraulic Fill Manual. Without proper hydraulic fill and suitable specialized equipment, major infrastructure projects such as ports, airports, roads, industrial or housing projects cannot be realized. To date comprehensive information about hydraulic fill is difficult to find. The Hydraulic Fill Manual is a thoroughly researched book, written by noted experts, which takes the reader step-by-step through the complex development of a hydraulic fill project.
Up-to-date and in-depth, this Manual will enable the client and his consultant to understand and properly plan a reclamation project. It provides adequate guidelines for design and quality control and allows the contractor to work to known and generally accepted procedures and reasonable specifications. The ultimate goal is to realize better-designed, more adequately specified and less costly hydraulic fill projects.'

Ir. J. van ’t Hoff

(Van ‘t Hoff Consultancy)


In this course the student learns how a hydraulic fill project is initiated and how technical data is acquired and applied. He/she will be introduced to the construction methods applicable to a wide variety of dredging equipment and soil conditions and is informed about the need and feasibility of ground improvement. He/she will learn how the potentials of a borrow pit are assessed. Furthermore the student will be introduced to the (geotechnical) design of a hydraulic fill mass, including strength and stiffness, density, sensitivity to liquefaction, design considerations for special fill material such as silts, clays and carbonate sands, problematic subsoils and natural hazards. The student will learn the basics of monitoring and quality control and to prepare appropriate specifications for the construction of a hydraulic fill.


  • Overview of the most relevant elements in the procedure to realize a reclamation project and the way they are related to each other. Introduction of the development cycle to realize a project, including the iterative nature of that cycle.
  • Data required for the design of a hydraulic fill project. This includes not only the type of information needed for the design, but also methods to collect information, reporting and processing of data.
  • Introduction to commonly used dredging equipment and its use. Possibilities and limitations of the various types of dredgers and their vulnerability to the physical conditions of the project site are also included.
  • Description of the most important criteria for the selection of a borrow area.
  • Construction methods of reclamation. This comprises not only the deposition of the material, but also the planning, preparation and monitoring of the operations.
  • Overview of the most relevant ground improvement techniques.
  • Geotechnical design of land reclamation. The main sections deal with density, (shear) strength, stiffness and deformations of the fill mass. Special attention is devoted to the phenomena liquefaction and breaching.
  • In some areas of the world land reclamation projects have to be undertaken using cohesive materials or carbonate sands rather than the more frequently encountered quartz sands. Furthermore, certain subsoils may exhibit a different behaviour when loaded by fill. Attention is paid to the behaviour of these special fill materials and problematic subsoils.
  • In addition to the geotechnical behaviour, a design should also take into account aspects like drainage of the reclaimed area, wind erosion, and slope, bed and bank protection. These subjects and some relevant references will be introduced briefly.
  • Monitoring and quality control during and after the dredging and construction works.
  • Recommendations for preparing technical specifications for a hydraulic fill project following the engineering philosophy adopted in the Manual.
  • An important element of the course will be discussions between students and course leaders on adequate and less adequate specifications for hydraulic fills. Course participants are invited to provide input in these discussions by bringing in their own experience.


Target group

This course is of particular interest to clients, consultants, planning and consenting authorities, environmental advisors, contractors and civil, geotechnical, hydraulic and coastal engineers involved in dredging and land reclamation projects. For following this course some background knowledge in geotechnical engineering is required.

Course material

Program (subject to changes)

Day 1

Introduction to the Manual; Project initiation
Ir. J. (Jan) van 't Hoff (Van ‘t Hoff Consultancy)

Data collection
Ir. B. (Berten) Vermeulen (Jan De Nul)

Dredging equipment
Ir. J. (Jan) van 't Hoff (Van ‘t Hoff Consultancy)

Selection borrow area; Planning and construction methods reclamation
Ir. T. (Fedor) Meulenkamp (Boskalis)

Ground improvement P.G.S. (Patrick) Mengé (Deme)

Ir. B. (Berten) Vermeulen (Jan De Nul)

Strength of the fill mass; Stiffness and deformation
Ir. F. (Rik) Bisschop (Arcadis)

Liquefaction and earthquakes
Ir. R.R. (Richard) de Jager (Boskalis)

Other design ítems
Ir. J.P. (Joop) van der Meer (Van Oord)

Day 2

Cohesive or fine grained material
Ir. B. (Berten) Vermeulen (Jan De Nul)

Carbonate sand fill material
Ir. C. (Chris) Dykstra (Boskalis)

Hydraulic rock fill
Ir. B. (Berten) Vermeulen (Jan De Nul)

Problematic subsoils
Ir. J.P. (Joop) van der Meer (Van Oord)

Monitoring and quality control
Ir. J.P. (Joop) van der Meer (Van Oord)

Technical specifications, introduction
Ir. B. (Berten) Vermeulen (Jan De Nul)

Berten Vermeulen, Patrick Mengé, Joop van der Meer, Bart Hooiveld, Jan van ‘t Hoff and Rik Bisschop

Course leader

Ir. J. van ’t Hoff (Van ‘t Hoff Consultancy)




Delft, The Netherlands