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Settlement Plates

Settlement plates are used to monitor settlement induced by surcharges placed on compressible soils.


  • Monitoring consolidation of ground treated with wick drains and surcharges.
  • Monitoring settlement during construction of embankments.

Basic Components

  • Steel base plate.
  • Steel riser pipe fixed to the base plate.
  • Extensions to the riser, required as the height of the surcharge increases.

Installation & Maintenance

  1. Settlement plates are installed at specified locations.
  2. The initial elevation of each plate and riser is noted carefully. Settlement will be calculated  by comparing the subsequent measurements to the initial measurement.
  3. Fill is hand-compacted around the riser to the specified level of the lift. Paint, flags, cones, or fences are used to make the riser visible to equipment operators.
  4. When fill approaches the top of the riser, an extension is added and step 3 is repeated.


Traditional: Settlement plates are traditionally monitored by a surveyor, who measures the elevation of the top of each riser. Each set of elevation measurements requires a visit by the surveyor, who then prepares and delivers a report.

Automated: The top of each riser is fitted with a prism. Elevations of the prisms are then measured automatically using an AMTS system. Automation allows frequent measurements and provides graphs and reports just minutes after each measurement cycle.

See Monitoring Soil Consolidation 

Settlement plate with prism

Settlement plate with prism

Settlement plate risers should be painted and flagged to be visible to equipment operators.

Settlement plate with mound

Fill was hand-compacted around this riser to the next level of the lift.

AMTS on Gravity Base Tower

AMTS system on gravity base tower.