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Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering Research Group

We work on providing practical solutions to the problems in the broad area of civil engineering practice known as the geotechnical and  geoenvironmental engineering. Our current research focuses on several specific topics such as geosynthetic applications in civil and mining engineering projects, fibre-reinforced soils, slope stability under static and seismic loading conditions, soil arching, stress distribution within mine stopes, static and dynamic earth pressures, highway and runway pavement deflection, pile foundation analysis, elastic constants for compressible and incompressible materials, utilisation of mine wastes, leak detection by electrical resistivity, landfill liners, contaminant flow through porous media, and environmental and seismic aspects of foundations and other geotechnical structures.

Research Themes

Geosynthetics

Development and use of polymeric materials in the form of geosynthetics as a new class of construction materials have revolutionised the infrastructure and the environmental protection works in the construction industry during the past three to four decades. Geosynthetics are available in a wide range of compositions appropriate to different applications and environments. The engineers have grown increasingly interested in geosynthetics and their correct use because the geosynthetics often provide efficient, cost-effective, environment-friendly and/or energy-efficient solutions to several problems.

Fibre-Reinforced Soils

Different types of fibres are available as natural, synthetic or waste products. As the waste tyres and the waste plastic materials are available in large quantities worldwide, they may be utilised in construction projects in various forms, especially in the form of fibres; otherwise they may occupy a large volume of the landfills when disposed of. The concept of reinforcing soil with fibres, especially the natural ones, originated in the ancient times in some applications. However, the randomly distributed fibre-reinforced soils have recently attracted increasing attention in geotechnical engineering in a scientific manner.

Geosynthetic-Reinforced Foundations

Geosynthetics, mainly woven geotextiles, geogrids and geocells have been widely used in reinforcing the foundation soil beds in order to have increased load-bearing capacity and reduced settlement. This technique provides an option of shallow foundations to support heavy loads as a cost-effective alternative to conventional deep foundations. The most common practice of constructing the reinforced soil bed is to insert one or more horizontal layers of the geosynthetic reinforcement within the soil bed, which is compacted suitably.

Engineered Landfills

Liners are used in the engineered containment systems such as landfills for controlling the migration of contaminants. Although there are several techniques for detecting the leakage through the liners, use of the electrical resistivity method can assist in timely detection of contaminant migration in cost-effective manner. This method is based on the well-established fact that the electrical resistivity of soils and other geomaterials is much higher than the electrical resistivity of water, leachates or any liquid effluents that may permeate the landfill foundation material. Additionally, the geotechnical properties of a soil exhibit a close relationship with its electrical resistivity values for different conditions.

Utilisation of Mine Tailings

The mine tailings are generated as the wastes worldwide as a result of exploration, excavation, blasting, beneficiation and extraction of mineral ores. The mine tailings available in large quantities lead to environmental and disposal problems. The common practice of handling the tailings are to store them in tailing dams or as stockpiles near mine sites. Limited quantities are sometimes used as backfills and other applications. The utilisation of tailings in building and construction projects, which may consume a large volume of wastes, is being explored extensively by the researchers.

Seismic Stability of Rock Slopes

The stability analysis of rock slopes has been a challenging task for engineers because the rock mass constituting the slope often has discontinuities in various forms, resulting in  different types of slope failures. There are several parameters including surcharge and seismic loads that govern the stability of the rock slope against plane failure in field projects. The limit equilibrium approach for the estimation of the factor of safety of the rock slope has been well accepted by the engineers in the past. Very recently, attempts have been made to  present analytical expressions for the factor of safety of the rock slopes against plane and wedge failures subjected to seismic loads.

Contact

If you are interested in applying to ECU and want to discuss a specific project proposal in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering, contact:

Associate Professor Sanjay Kumar Shukla
T: (61 8) 6304 2632   E: s.shukla@ecu.edu.au

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