Organization and Analysis of Measurement While Drilling (MWD) Data

Obtaining sufficient and reliable in-situ geologic substrate data and characterizing the subsurface conditions for engineering design purposes has always been a challenge to the natural resources and civil engineering industries. Availability and accuracy of such information is key, however, for successful planning, design, construction, and operation of many engineering projects including transportation infrastructure. Measurement While Drilling (MWD) technology has shown a lot of potential for improving the subsurface characterization process in some industries. Since the 1980s, for example, MWD has been critical to the development of directional drilling within the petroleum industry. In the geotechnical engineering industry, however, MWD technology is in its early research stages. Utilizing a $50,000 contract funded in early 2020 through FHWA's Every Day Counts (EDC) 5 Initiative, the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is currently evaluating the MWD technology on their Central Mine Equipment (CME) 1050 ATM drill rig. Since the summer of 2020, MDT has been collecting continuous and consistent measurements of MWD data at several of their projects. The collected data include drilling depth, drilling rate, rotation speed, own pressure, hold-back pressure, mast vibration, flow rate, and fluid pressure. Beginning in the spring of 2022, MDT will continue to collect additional MWD data with an attempt to also collect accurate mechanical torque data. It is worth mentioning that other data including the standard penetration test (SPT), pressuremeter test (PMT), borehole shear test (BST), vane shear test (VST), cone penetration test (CPT), as well as geophysical survey data will also be collected. This data will be collected at MDT project sites that have proposed ruts, embankment fills, culverts, and bridge foundations. The projects from which MDT chooses to collect MWD data will be located throughout Montana. The challenges with MWD technology include a combination of organizing large amounts of collected data and correlating this data to the desired subsurface characteristics such as the subsurface soil and rock strength parameters. The outcome of this research project is the organization and interpretation of geotechnical drilling data and the evaluation of existing correlations between MWD data and subsurface strength and index properties and the creation of newly developed correlations. The correlation equations can then be readily used to optimize the number of required subsurface exploration locations, reduce sampling intervals, improve project understanding, and potentially reduce the number of change orders on future projects.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $103,554
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Montana Department of Transportation

    2701 Prospect Avenue
    P.O. Box 201001
    Helena, MT  United States  59620-1001
  • Managing Organizations:

    Montana Department of Transportation

    2701 Prospect Avenue
    P.O. Box 201001
    Helena, MT  United States  59620-1001
  • Project Managers:

    Callejas, Vaneza

  • Performing Organizations:

    Montana Technological University

    1300 W Park St.
    Butte, MT  United States  59701
  • Start Date: 20210831
  • Expected Completion Date: 20241031
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01774468
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Montana Department of Transportation
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Jun 17 2021 4:23PM