SITE INVESTIGATION and routine foundation design could change fundamentally, if industry takes on board a new approach proposed by Professor John Atkinson in the 40th Rankine Lecture presented in London on 15 March.
'Engineering properties of soils are variable, but in a consistent and predictable way, ' he said. 'Otherwise soil mechanics would be witchcraft.'
Geotechnical engineers are currently better at estimating ultimate failure than settlement in service, but Atkinson explained how to characterise non-linearity and how settlements may be assessed for the full range of loading from zero to failure.
He challenged equipment designers and manufacturers to further develop methods for measuring the necessary parameters. 'Techniques for determining very small strain stiffness are well established but equipment needs development to make it more robust and user-friendly, ' he said.
The imminent merger of the British Geotechnical Society and ICE Ground Board means that next year's Rankine lecture, to be presented by Austrian Professor Heinz Brandl, will be one the largest society meeting under ICE's remit.
A raffle on behalf of RedR at the Rankine Dinner raised £1,850.