‘Gabions’ is a word that might not be said in every day conversation (by most at least), but it is important in the construction industry. Finding its origin from the Italian word gabbione (meaning ‘big cage’) gabions are structures filled with soil, sand or rock and used in civil engineering.
A gabion can be a cage, cylinder or box, and is used most commonly in road construction to prevent soil erosion and in the foundation construction when building a dam. The gabion is also used extensively by the military and serves as protection for artillery crews from enemy fire. There are many businesses that serve as gabion suppliers and provide the structures to suit the needs of the customer.
Gabions in Civil Engineering
The gabion is most often used in civil engineering and consists of a thick, galvanised wire frame which is filled with stone. The stone is stacked in stepped tiers so that it is more secure than simply stacking it vertically. They are provided by gabion suppliers who specialise in making strong, lasting structures.
More often than not the gabion used in civil engineering is used to prevent erosion – shoreline and slopes need reinforcement to prevent them from washing away due to rain. They are also used extensively as retaining walls, temporary walls against floods, small and temporary dams, river training as well as channel lining. Because of its robust strength a gabion is ideal to force and guide flood water around and away from vulnerable structures. They are occasionally used on mountainous routes to keep loose stones and rock from falling and endangering motorists travelling along those routes.
A gabion is supplied to civil engineers by gabion suppliers and the lifespan of such a structure is dependent on the quality of the wire used in construction. The contents are simply rock and if the wire wears out, the structure is rendered useless. It has been suggested that a PVC coated, galvanised gabion can survive for an estimated sixty years.
There are some advantages of using gabion structures. They are very flexible due to the ability to stack them in various shapes and formations. They are also more flexible than rigid structures in the case of ground movement, and can dissipate energy a lot easier, negating the risk of collapse. Because of their weight and robust nature, that are resistant to being washed away by water and can drain the liquid easily. Over time a gabion will become stronger as the gaps fill with silt and natural debris, solidifying the structure.
Gabions in the Military
War is almost as old as man himself and the gabion can be traced to medieval times. Originally during medieval times of war a gabion was an open ended construction made of wicker and filled with earth. They were used as fortifications to protect an army from invaders. The wicker structures were light and could easily be moved and stacked in a defensive pattern to protect the gunner.
In today’s military the gabion are used to protect forward operating bases, especially against explosive attacks, direct mortar fire and artillery strikes. The gabion’s main function is to protect soldiers during times of conflict. They are mostly used to protect sleeping quarters, mess halls and any other area where there will be a large contingent of unprotected military personnel. They are most commonly filled with mud or stone – essentially a substance that can absorb the impact of a bullet or explosion.
Gabions are a useful and vital structure in the world of civil engineering and in military defence. Used effectively still today and provided by gabion suppliers, this simple construction has provided a great service and saved many lives in times of conflict.
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