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Burial Vaults and Weight-Bearing: Resisting Loads


by Wilbert Vault

There are several factors or types of loads that weigh upon a burial vault. Understanding the types of loads and how they each impact the burial vault is essential to understanding the importance of a quality lined burial vault.

Static Load
A static or stationary load is simply the weight of the earth that rests directly over a burial vault. This load has decreased since the 1920s. In most cemeteries today, the average grave has 18 inches of earth covering, which results in a static load of approximately 4,000 pounds (two tons).

Dynamic Load

A dynamic load is a load that varies in intensity. This load is transferred to a burial vault as heavy cemetery equipment passes over the grave. The equipment used in cemeteries is much larger and heavier today. Some cemeteries use a backhoe, which weighs close to 25,000 pounds on average.

Impact Load

An impact or shock load is produced by a mechanical tamper or the dropping of a backhoe bucket and delivers a very concentrated force through the soil. This has an extreme effect on a small area of the burial vault cover at shallow grave depths.


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