Vibrating Wire Push-In Pressure Cell


A Push-In Pressure Cell, also called Spade Cell, is designed to be pushed into the ground where it can measure total earth pressure and pore water pressure within the soil.


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A VW Push-In Pressure Cell, also called a Spade Cell, is designed to be pushed into the ground where it can measure total earth pressure and pore water pressure within the soil. It can be used as a site investigation tool to determine the in situ stress state, both vertical and horizontal, depending on the direction of installation. In addition, it can be used to monitor the change in active and passive pressure around retaining structures (diaphragm walls,…) as well as in tunneling, and other earthworks. Typical installations are in fine grained cohesive soils, including very soft to stiff clays.

Construction consists of two longitudinal stainless steel plates welded together around their periphery. The annular space between these plates is filled with de-aired glycol. A port and filter for pore water pressure measurement are located on one of the flat sides of the
support plate behind the pressure sensitive section of the cell.

The pressure cell and the port for the pore water pressure are connected via stainless steel tubes to two vibrating wire pressure transducers integrated in the cell. A thermistor for temperature measurement is also incorporated in the cell.

The installation method consists generally in drilling a pilot hole slightly shorter than the planned installation depth, and then to push the pressure cell about 1 meter past the bottom of the pilot hole using standard drill rods or CPT rods that will be left in place or retrieved at a later stage after measurements are completed. Push rods and push adapters can also be used if the cell is to be pushed and left permanently in place with retrieval of the push rods (see ordering info).


Capacity 350, 700 kPa

1, 2, 3, 5 MPa

Over Range 150% F.S. (maximum)
Resolution 0.025% F.S. (minimum)
Accuracy ± 0.5% F.S.
Sensor Type (earth and pore water pressure) Vibrating Wire
Temperature Range -20° to +80°C
Filter 50 micron sintered filter
Length x Diameter x Thickness (pressure sensitive section) 200 x 57 x 6.3 mm
Total Length 524 mm

Vibrating Wire Push-In Pressure Cells are commonly used for:

  • Site investigation tool for estimation of in situ horizontal stress.
  • Risk assessment of hydraulic fracture of clay cores or cut-off trenches in dams.
  • Stress change adjacent to retaining walls.
  • Measurement of vertical and horizontal stresses to monitor clay cliffs degradation.
  • Monitoring stress redistribution around tunnels in soils.

View illustrations on how Vibrating Wire Push-In Pressure Cells are used for tunnel monitoring.

Vibrating Wire Push-In Pressure Cell

VW Push-In Pressure Cell VWPC2100
6 Conductor Electrical Cable with polyurethane jacket EL380006
Push Adapter (1 required per cell) PUSHADAPT-CPT
Push Adapter for Rods (1 required per project) PUSHADAPT-1.5NPT

File Name

Push-in Pressure Cell

Resource Type

Language Version Download
English LPB0018K
Portuguese LPB0035A

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I’m very happy with the quality of the instrumentation and technical support from RST, as always. They worked with us from the initial stages of the project to ensure that we were fully prepared and equipped to use the RSTAR network for the first time. They delivered everything within the tight project time frame to ensure that there were no delays on site, and the submersible tilt meters looked like new even after over twelve months of being submerged in Thames water!
-Richard Lipscombe, BEng (Hons), Director & Principle Consultant - RL Geotechnical Ltd