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Intelligent & Resilient Ocean Engineering – Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging TechnologiesNews and Events

IROE team scoop Telford Premium Prize for paper on lab-based approach to characterize soil strength evolution for whole life geotechnical design

Published: 25 May 2022
Geotechnique letters


Ms Noor Laham, Dr Katherine Kwa, Professor David White and Professor Susan Gourvenec were recognised for their Geotechnique Letters technical note on ‘Episodic simple shear tests to measure strength changes for whole-life geotechnical design’ by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Publishing. Their paper received a Telford Premium Prize, awarded to recognise key papers across the ICE journals which are judged to be of exceptional quality and benefit to the civil engineering community.

The paper describes a set of direct simple shear (DSS) laboratory element tests that characterise the evolving geotechnical properties of a soft soil, through a loading history that represents episodic loading and consolidation periods as encountered by some offshore infrastructure. It shows how DSS tests, an accessible, cost effective and established method, commonly used in offshore geotechnical site investigation, can be extended to characterise the through-life, changing response of soft clays and their potential gain in undrained shear strength. Current methods relying on expensive in situ testing offshore. Whole-life geotechnical design offers the opportunity to more efficiently and effectively design offshore foundations, needed to deliver the reduction in costs to enable offshore wind at the scale necessary to make a meaningful contribution to decarbonisation of the energy sector. Finding a simple and effective method to characterise the changing properties of soil is an essential step in realising this new design approach.  

Lead author Noor Laham carried out the work presented in the award-winning paper in 2019 as part of an Erasmus Exchange to the University of Southampton from the University of Bologna. Noor is now working towards her PhD at the University of Southampton in this topic as part of the IROE team. Her supervisory team includes the co-authors of this paper along with Dr Yusuke Suzuki, from industry partner, the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute.

The paper is freely available to read here.


Image 1
Applied ‘whole-life’ loading;
Image 2
Actual vs predicted gains in shear strength per episodic loading cycle
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