Engineering and the Environment

Research Group: Infrastructure Group

The Infrastructure Research Division encompasses research carried out in the areas of geomechanics, and structures and construction.

Currently Active: Yes

Group Overview

Recent achievements in key research areas include:

  • lead participation in the EPSRC centre for rail systems research, RRUK
  • EPSRC field monitoring projects at Canary Wharf and Canada Water (JLE); Blackwater Valley (Surrey); Coventry; Heathrow Terminal 4; and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link at Ashford
  • centrifuge model testing programmes on stabilised base retaining walls and pile-stabilised cutting slopes (both TRL funded), and temporary trackways (DERA)
  • field and centrifuge model testing programmes to investigate the response of transmission tower foundations to dynamic loads and climate change (National Grid plc; three grants: £580,000)
  • large-scale tests on the hydraulic properties of refuse in the context of sustainable landfill and waste stabilisation (EPSRC/Cleanaway); and laboratory tests to investigate factors affecting the rate and magnitude of secondary settlements of landfills (EPSRC) and biological clogging of leachate drains (BNFL)
  • advanced numerical modelling (using discrete element, 3D finite difference and finite element analyses, and a 3D particle-based code) applied to the Three Gorges Project (China), shear bands in particulate materials (EPSRC), stability of masonry retaining walls (Highways Agency), hydrocarbon exploration in Colombia (BP), soil penetration processes incorporating interface adhesion
  • development of web-based geotechnical data visualisation systems (Southampton e-Science Centre, EPSRC)
  • EPSRC platform grants in liquid and gas flow processes in wastes, and the management of residual wastes
  • the use of carbon fibre-reinforced composites to strengthen cast and wrought iron and steel beams in bridges and other structures, and to strengthen cast iron struts under preload
  • the innovative use of polymer composite materials in bridge and sandwich panel construction
  • the use of high-strength reinforced cast stone in novel applications such as building panels, and earthquake and blast-resistance structures
  • shear and moment capacities of reinforced concrete pile caps
  • soil–structure interaction of reinforced concrete integral bridges
  • behaviour of steel sheet piles
  • management of vibrations in long-span steel–concrete composite beams
  • post-plastic analysis of pitched roof portal frames
  • strength, fatigue and fracture of tubular onshore and offshore structures

Advanced soil-testing apparatus (cyclic triaxial, resonant column, hollow cylinder) is being used for problems ranging from characterisation of the Atherfield Clay (EPSRC funding) to the dynamic behaviour of offshore gas hydrates at high pressure and low temperature and railway sub-base materials (EPSRC/RRUK).  

We have contributed to fundamental knowledge in the areas of groundwater control, retaining walls, landfill engineering, soil behaviour, structural repair techniques and the safety of offshore structures. CFRP beam research led to the largest ever structural strengthening contract using carbon-fibre composites at Shadwell station, LUL. Research results are consistently disseminated to industry through authorship of guidance documents and reports.

We currently hold over £4 million in research funding, supporting over 30 researchers. Much of this is derived from EPSRC sources but we also receive significant financial support from charities, industry and government. We collaborate extensively with the construction and waste management industries, and have international research links with institutions in China, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Kazakhstan, Korea, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa and Western Australia.

We welcome applications to carry out doctoral research in our areas of expertise. For further information please contact the Head of Division, Professor David Richards, or our administrative team.

Contact us

  • Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering and Science Unit

    Engineering and the Environment
    University of Southampton
    Highfield Campus
    Southampton SO17 1BJ

    Senior administrative officer: Melanie Hallford

    Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 2192


    Administrative officers: Sheila Stickland

    Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 8946


    Aparna Subaiah-Varma 

    Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 7745


    Satwant Virdee

    Tel: +44 (0)23 8059 4914



What's related
    Other University of Southampton sites
    Infrastructure research

    Infrastructure research


    Selected publications associated with this group from the University of Southampton's electronic library (e-prints):


    White, J.K., Beaven, R.P., Powrie, W. and Knox, K. (2011) Leachate recirculation in a landfill: some insights obtained from the development of a simple 1-D model. Waste Management, 31, (6), 1210-1221. (doi:10.1016/j.wasman.2010.10.022).
    Nixon, Casey, Sanderson, David J. and Bull, Jon (2011) Deformation within a strike-slip fault network at Westward Ho!, Devon U.K.: Domino vs conjugate faulting. Journal of Structural Geology, 33, 833-843. (doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2011.03.009).
    Jolly, J.M., Beaven, R.P. and Barker, R.D. (2011) Resolution of electrical imaging of fluid movement in landfills. Proceedings of the ICE - Waste and Resource Management, 164, (2), 79-96. (doi:10.1680/warm.2011.164.2.79).
    Bloodworth, Alan G., Xu, Ming, Banks, James R and Clayton, Chris R.I. (2011) Predicting the earth pressure on integral bridge abutments. Journal of Bridge Engineering, 17, (2), 371-381. (doi:10.1061/(ASCE)BE.1943-5592.0000263).
    Lees, Andrew S. and Richards, David J. (2011) Centrifuge modelling of temporary roadway systems subject to rolling type loading. Geomechanics and Engineering, 3, (1), 45-59.
    Clayton, C.R.I. (2011) Stiffness at small strain: research and practice. Geotechnique, 61, (1), 5-37. (doi:10.1680/geot.2011.61.1.5).
    Barton, M.E. and Garvey, P.M. (2011) Reactivation of landsliding following partial cliff stabilization at Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, UK. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 44, 233-248. (doi:10.1144/1470-9236/09-030).
    Richards, David J. and Powrie, William (2011) Physical modelling of in-ground waste repository capping systems. Proceedings of the ICE - Waste and Resource Management, 164, (1), 53-65. (doi:10.1680/warm.2011.164.1.53).
    Triepaischajonsak, N., Thompson, D.J., Jones, C.J.C., Ryue, J. and Priest, J.A. (2011) Ground vibration from trains: experimental parameter characterization and validation of a numerical model. [in special issue: Special issue on rail research uk: the universities’ centre for rail systems research] Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit, 225, (2), 140-153. (doi:10.1177/09544097JRRT370).

    Book Section

    Beaven, R.P., Powrie, W. and Zardava, K. (2011) Hydraulic properties of MSW. In, Zekkos, Dimitrios (ed.) Geotechnical characterization, Field Measurements and Laboratory Testing of Municipal Solid Waste. Virginia, US, American Society of Civil Engineers, 1-43. (ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication, 209).


    Members of staff associated with this group:

    Postgraduate opportunities

    Postgraduate programmes:

    MSc Civil Engineering (1 year)