The British Geotechnical Association
The BGA is the principal association for geotechnical engineers in the United Kingdom and organises a number of high profile events each year.
Join us on 14 November as Professor Alessandro Tarantino, professor of experimental geomechanics from the University of Strathclyde, explains how you can get ‘climate-smart’ by adopting a more nature-based approach when building or maintaining earth infrastructure.
Climate change will affect our aging transportation and flood defence earth infrastructure (embankments, cuttings, slopes adjacent to transport corridors). Infiltrating rainwater/floodwater increases pore-water pressure leading to a reduction in soil shear strength eventually triggering slope instability. Dry/wet periods cause shrink/swell behaviour of clayey geostructures and may contribute towards these geostructures reaching the serviceability limit state.
Ground-atmosphere hydraulic interaction is almost always mediated by a vegetated interface. If adequately ‘engineered’, it can be transformed into a valuable climate change adaptation measure for long linear infrastructure subjected to climatic hazard. Vegetation-based solutions are:
This lecture will present experimental and numerical evidence showing that transpiration-induced suction (hydrological reinforcement) and lateral drainage promoted by the higher hydraulic conductivity of the root zone (hydraulic reinforcement) can considerably affect the stability of slopes. It is also shown that increasing (e.g., due to vegetation growth) or decreasing transpiration (e.g., due to clearing) can lead to excessive deformations of the clayey geostructure.
These processes occur in the Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Continuum (SPAC) and can possibly be amplified or attenuated via the biotic and abiotic manipulation of the SPAC. This is an approach commonly adopted in agriculture and forest management and the event will discuss the lessons we can learn from plant science to develop geotechnical solutions.
Vegetation and soil microbiota live in a complex evolving ecosystem, and post-intervention field monitoring is required to assess the performance of any nature-based adaptation measure (i.e., the observational method is an intrinsic part of ‘designing with nature’). Field monitoring is also key to characterise the SPAC. We cannot bring large ‘representative’ samples of vegetated interface to the laboratory, instead we need to move our laboratory to the field. The lecture will address the challenges and opportunities in the monitoring of the SPAC.
Finally, the lecture will highlight the problem of designing hydrological reinforcement of slopes via a transpiration model designed to be physically-based in order to guide the choice of suitable plant functional traits.
Welcome by Dr Andrew Ridley, managing director, Geotechnical Observations Ltd and chair, British Geotechnical Association
Keynote address by Professor Alessandro Tarantino, professor of experimental geomechanics, deputy head of department and director of research and teaching laboratories, University of Strathclyde
Closing remarks by Dr Andrew Ridley
Geotechnical Observations Ltd
managing director & owner
Dr Andrew Ridley is Chair of the British Geotechnical Association and managing director of Geotechnical Observations Limited which he founded in 2000.
With over 40 years’ experience within the geotechnical sector of the civil engineering industry, he is known for his work on the measurement of soil suction (in situ and laboratory) for which he received a PhD from Imperial College London.
Andrew is currently the UK's representative on ISO TC182 WG2, which is writing international standards for geotechnical monitoring, a member of the British National Committee for standards in geotechnics B_526_3, Chair of ISSMGE TC220 Field Monitoring in Geomechanics and was Chair of the local organising committee for the 11th International Symposium on Field Monitoring in Geomechanics held at Imperial College London in September 2022.
In addition, Andrew was a member of the Steering Committee for CIRIA 550 Infrastructure Embankments – Condition Appraisal and Remedial Treatment, on the Editorial Panel of Geotechnical Engineering (Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers) from 1998 to 2001 and was a member of the sub-committee to the Advisory Panel of Géotechnique for the 2011 Symposium in Print on Partial Saturation in Compacted Soils.
University of Strathclyde
professor of experimental geomechanics
Professor Tarantino joined the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow as a professor in 2010, following an MEng at the University of Naples Federico II, a PhD at the Politecnico di Torino, and positions as research fellow and then lecturer at the University of Trento, all in Italy.
His recent research interests include the direct measurement of water tension in soils and plants, the soil-plant-atmosphere interaction, the stability of natural and engineered slopes subjected to rainwater and floodwater infiltration, and the micromechanical behaviour of saturated and unsaturated clays.
Professor Tarantino has led major European consortium research projects including the Marie Curie European Training Network 'TERRE (’Training Engineers and Researchers to Rethink geotechnical Engineering for a low carbon future, 2015-2019) and the Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways ‘MAGIC’ (Monitoring systems to Assess Geotechnical Infrastructure subjected to Climatic hazards, 2014-2018).
He has been keynote/theme lecturer at numerous international and European conferences on unsaturated soils since 2002 and keynote lecturer at the 3rd International Conference on “Soil Bio- and Eco-engineering’ in 2012. He is co-editor of the books ‘Advanced Experimental Unsaturated Soil Mechanics’ (2005) and ‘Laboratory and Field Testing of Unsaturated Soils’ (2009).
Join the ICE Early Careers Network East Midlands branch for their monthly committee meetings, everyone is welcome to attend.
ICE Bristol City Club and CIWEM are hosting an introductory session to nature-based solutions, diving into the benefits they offer and providing real life examples from the South West.
The first in this series of three events will examine working at height. It is targeted towards the ECNet. Introduced by the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland as the regulator, it will provide information on working at height from the perspective of three CDM duty holders; the client, the designer and the principal contractor.