Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence Geotechnical Science and Engineering

Objectives

Physical infrastructure, such as national road and rail systems, and offshore facilities and pipelines, rely on geotechnical engineering design and this is increasingly associated with building on very soft ground (geomaterials). Onshore, transport corridors must frequently make use of poor soils that have proved problematic for other developments while, offshore, soft sediments are encountered in almost all recent developments where water depths now mostly exceed 500 m. In all such cases the response of the geomaterials is complex, highly variable and poses major design challenges. The core goals of the CGSE are therefore to:

  1. Provide a national focus for geotechnical research on energy and transport infrastructure by integrating the expertise of three of Australia’s key geotechnical research groups into a single centre. The centre is developing new geotechnologies in a coherent and unified fashion, as well as establishing a critical research mass and allowing cross-pollination between the three nodes.
  2. Optimise the design of Australia’s critical energy and transport infrastructure to make it safer and more cost-efficient. This is being achieved by combining fundamental work in geotechnical science, cutting-edge computational modelling, state-of-the-art physical modelling, and laboratory and field testing.
  3. Liaise with the onshore and offshore industries to foster (i) a rapid uptake of new geotechnologies and design practices, thus ensuring that major Australian engineering projects are designed locally, and (ii) sustainability of funding for the CGSE, post ARC support.
  4. Educate and train the next generation of geotechnical engineers and researchers.

A compelling feature of the CGSE is that it capitalises on the complementary research strengths of the Centre for Geotechnical and Materials Modelling at the University of Newcastle, which is a world leader in computational geomechanics, with the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems at the University of Western Australia, which has unparallelled expertise in the physical modelling of geotechnical problems. Combining this natural fit with the SMART Rail Institute and Geotechnics and Railway Engineering Centre at the University of Wollongong, which has a worldwide reputation for its cutting-edge research on transport infrastructure geotechnics, a national focus for geotechnical research will be created.