In 2016 I wrote a review paper to identify the state of existing knowledge and understanding of railway and highway embankment failures. The review considered field, laboratory and numerical approaches to understanding pore water induced slope failure, seasonal shrink-swell movement and progressive embankment failure.
The paper was co-authored by Prof. Glendinning and Dr Loveridge and supported by the EPSRC-funded iSmart project. The paper can be found here.
I have a Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellowship (2017-18) which will enable me to support Network Rail in identifying improvements to earthworks’ management and maintenance. The collaboration will also lead to new teaching content and industrial links for students at the University of Bath.
Railway embankment failure (Photo courtesy of D. Hutchinson)
Highway slope failure (Photo courtesy of D. Patterson)
Drystone retaining walls
I have undertaken investigations into drystone wall construction and wall integrity at road and railway sites in the Cotswolds (England), Snowdonia (Wales) and in the Cevennes (France). With my colleagues at the University of Bath, this has included fruitful interactions and collaborations with local (artisan) builders and with drystone retaining wall owners (e.g. local authorities).
Drystone retaining walls form an essential part of the infrastructure in hilly and mountainous regions, in both the developed and developing world. The construction of drystone retaining walls reflects the local building expertise and the types of locally available stone. The stones are assemble without mortar, to provide a low-energy, sustainable form of retaining wall construction to support roads, buildings, and agricultural terraces.
Publications describing this work can be found here
Thermal image of a drystone wall in France
Assessing the Ffestiniog Railway (Wales)
Old quay walls
I am interested in better understanding failure mechanisms in historic block masonry and brick retaining walls. My previous investigations have included an old quay wall (19th Century), constructed by John Rennie adjacent to the River Thames.
I have used laboratory-scale model testing and advanced limit equilibrium methods to better understand the deformation behaviour and the ultimate failure mechanisms of old quay walls. This will improve the stability assessment of walls supporting critical infrastructure or undergoing a change of use.
If you have a historic wall which may be of interest then please contact me.
CT imaging of fill soils
I have been exploring new ways to non-destructively visualise the structure of soils and measure their properties without disturbance.
I have used CT scanning to measure the size and distribution of pores, fissures and cracks in samples of embankment fill. This can be used to enhance our understanding of changes in soil structure within ageing earthworks in response to changing weather, a changing climate or change of use.
A publication describing this work can be found here.