Subsurface Exploration Technical Center of Expertise


In 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers established the Subsurface Exploration Technical Center of Expertise (SETCX) in the Mobile District to provide technical assistance and guidance to the rest of the Corps of Engineers and other government agencies on all aspects related to geotechnical and geologic investigations. The Mobile District was the logical choice to house the SETCX with an extensive history in core drilling operations dating back to the 1930s.

The SETCX is self-supporting and operates out of a revolving fund. To increase the efficiency of the SETCX, the number of personnel and available capabilities fluctuate depending on the center’s workload. At its maximum, the SETCX has employed more than 100 personnel with the capability to support over 30 crews with missions worldwide.


The SETCX operates as a unit under the Geotechnical and Dam Safety Section of the district’s Engineering Division. Nine Corps of Engineers’ Geotechnical and Materials In-house Drilling and Subsurface Exploration Production Offices at various locations throughout the Corps of Engineers provide the SETCX with additional assets to meet the drilling and subsurface exploration mission requirements.


The SETCX provides support in several areas including standard penetration tests, rock coring, vibra-coring, hazardous, toxic, and radioactive wastes drilling and sampling, off-shore drilling, specialized drilling, instrument installations, foundation grouting, slope drilling, infiltrometer and resistivity tests, sinkhole grouting, and military water well installation training.

The SETCX also provides the technical expertise necessary for field investigation activities, programmatic project and resource planning related to drilling & subsurface exploration, technical work plan development, agency technical review, technical contract document preparation, QA/QC contractor oversight, and final project reports or after action report compilation/reviews.

The center’s comprehensive and unique expertise in the subsurface exploration field is unparalleled in private industry and provides the Corps of Engineers with an in-house capability with the flexibility to respond to emergency situations.  The center is also capable of handling very difficult and unique drilling assignments.  We have provided water well drilling support and training to the military in Central and South America, Somalia, and Djibouti.

Requests for Service

Subsurface exploration can be a highly expensive endeavor for projects and emergency response missions. In fact, requests for service are often received after the customer has expended excessive time and effort locally trying to resolve exploration issues. The SETCX can improve the cost-effectiveness of your project by responding immediately with the correct equipment, tools and personnel to complete the mission on time and within budget. To request support for your project contact Rhonda Capes, the Subsurface Exploration Technical Lead, at (251) 690-3406 or Email us.

Production Centers

  • Baltimore District
  • Far East District
  • Fort Worth District
  • Kansas City District
  • Mobile District
  • New Orleans
  • Omaha District
  • Savannah District
  • Vicksburg District



Contact Us

Engineering Office

109 St. Joseph Street

Mobile, AL 36602

(251) 690-3406