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The University of Southampton


Infrastructure is critical to social and economic well-being, and central to the ability of our planet to support a human population of 7 billion and rising. Geotechnical infrastructure research at Southampton is focussed on the development of new understandings of how geotechnical infrastructure really behaves, through field monitoring backed up by laboratory element testing and appropriate analysis.

We carried out what was probably the first systematic and comprehensive study of prop loads in large braced excavations, involving the use of dataloggers to ensure that a complete picture of temporal and spatial variations in the measured parameters was obtained. This approach has subsequently been developed to include structural stress resultants such as bending moments in retaining walls and stabilizing piles, pore water pressures and soil moisture contents, and the dynamic displacements of railway tracks. A particular focus is the linkage of the measured variations to external physical and environmental loads, including weather and climate effects.

The Group's pre-eminence in this field is illustrated by its current key leadership roles in

  • the £3.1M EPSRC Programme Grant TRACK21, aimed at producing long-life, low-maintenance railway track fit for the 21st century
  • a Strategic Research Partnership with Network Rail in Future Infrastructure Systems, valued at £1M over five years (2012-17)
  • an EPSRC major project grant on track for high speed railways (T400), with two EngD studentships funded by HS2 Limited
  • the £1.6M EPSRC iSMART consortium , on infrastructure slopes: Sustainable Management And Resilience assessmenT.

Current research topics are:

  • Embankments and cut slopes: stabilization and climate/vegetation effects
  • Ballasted railway track
  • Energy infrastructure
  • Construction and temporary works
  • Retaining walls
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