School of Civil Engineering

Projects in geotechnical engineering

Project 1. Risk assessment and cost-effectiveness analysis applied to the rehabilitation of open pit mines

Supervisor:             Prof. David Williams d.williams@uq.edu.au

Risk assessment and cost-effectiveness analysis techniques are becoming essential tools in informing and defending the selection of rehabilitation strategies for open pit mines. Risk assessment can be qualitative or semi-quantitative, depending on certainty of the available data. Costs-effectiveness analysis is more objective than cost-benefit analysis, since the latter must "cost" intangibles, which by definition cannot be reliably costed. The techniques will be applied to actual open pit mine case studies.

Available to:            Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering

 

Project 2. Comparison of alternative methods for estimating the total, osmotic and matric suction of soils.

Supervisor:             Prof. David Williams d.williams@uq.edu.au

Soils can exist under suction. By definition, the matric or capillary suction is zero at and below the water table, while the osmotic and hence total suctions can have finite values both above and below the water table, depending on the salinity of the pore fluid. There are several methods available for measuring soil suctions and the aim of the research project is to compare the results obtained by different methods. 

Available to:            Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering

 

Project 3. Shear strength of road pavement materials, both without and with reinforcement elements.

Supervisor:             Prof. David Williams d.williams@uq.edu.au

The shear strength of road pavement materials dictates their traffic-loading capacity. A new 300 mm direct shear box will be used to assess the shear strength of road pavement materials, both without and with reinforcement elements, including geotextiles and geogrids.

Available to:            Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering.

 

Project 4. Settling, consolidation and desiccation of soil slurries.

Supervisor:             Prof. David Williams d.williams@uq.edu.au

The settling, consolidation and desiccation behaviour of soil slurries, including dredged spoil and mine tailings, is conventionally tested in separate laboratory experiments - settling column, and oedometer, and a drying test, respectively. A new 400 mm high by 150 mm in diameter "slurry consolidometer" allows, for the first time, all three processes to be carried in the one apparatus. Dredged spoil or mine tailings will be subjected to testing in this new device.

Available to:            Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering

 

Project 5. Dewatering of clay mineral-rich mine tailings.

Supervisor:             Prof. David Williams d.williams@uq.edu.au

Clay mineral-rich mine tailings are difficult to dewater prior to disposal. Dewatering methods include centrifuging, filtering, and solar/wind drying. In this project, tailings samples will be subjected to sedimentation, filtration, and drying testing, without and with amendments, to optimise their dewatering and the production of clear supernatant water.

Available to:            Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering

 

Project 6. Capping mine tailings storage facilities.

Supervisor:             Prof. David Williams d.williams@uq.edu.au

After the filling of a mine tailings storage facility, rehabilitation generally requires that the tailings be capped. Conventionally, mine tailings are disposed as a slurry, often resulting in a wet, soft tailings deposit that is difficult to cap due to its very low bearing capacity. The project will involve field and laboratory testing to inform the optimal capping methodology.

Available to:            Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering

 

Project 7. Performance of a geothermal energy pile.

Supervisor:             Prof. David Williams d.williams@uq.edu.au

Over the last few decades geothermal energy piles have found increasing application for augmenting the heating and cooling of houses in Northern Europe. Interest in geothermal energy piles is increasing in Australia, and a trial pile is being installed as part of a current research project, to which undergraduate students are invited to make a contribution.

Available to:            Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering

 

Project 8. Shear strength of water-affected coal mine spoil.

Supervisor:             Prof. David Williams d.williams@uq.edu.au

Coal mine spoil deposited in-pit has the potential to become partially inundated during prolonged heavy rainfall events. Many spoil materials degrade on wetting-up, resulting in reduced shear strength and the potential for spoil pile geotechnical instability. This project involves laboratory characterisation and shear strength testing of a range of typical coal mine spoil materials, tested both dry and wet, to assess their breakdown and loss of shear strength in water.

Available to:            Civil Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering