ISSMGE Presidential Lecture and ISSMGE 5th Proctor Lecture

Dr Marc Ballouz
Presidential Lecture & Opening Remarks


Rolling bridge for underground systematic tunneling

The world population is growing at an alarming rate with developments covering more and more territory and ruining nature. Civilians are still relying on automobiles for transport and the number of cars is increasing at a rate faster than the road network expansion. Traffic is now moving from the cities to the suburbs. One main example is the city of Jounieh in Lebanon. When the political deputy of the region asked for a solution, many options were studied and a new idea combining existing methodologies was created: ROBUST.

ROBUST stands for Rolling Bridge for Underground Systematic Tunneling. It’s a geotechnical solution for a transportation problem. In brief, the solution consists of installing a temporary steel bridge on rollers in the direction of traffic. While Traffic is diverted vertically on top of it, there will be a specialized construction team building a section of a tunnel under the bridge; say 10m. When this section is finished , the bridge is advanced to construct the next tunnel section; and so on, until a new tunnel is achieved to open car circulation and alleviate traffic jam in the region. There are many technical and financial advantages to this solution with no land expropriation needed and very little nuisance to the surrounding during construction, and little damage to the environment since the final product is a tunnel below the footprint of an existing highway! The design and construction challenges of ROBUST solution to reduce traffic jams on highways are presented along with a financial analysis.

Prof Erol Tutumluer

5th ISSMGE Proctor Lecture


Dr. Erol Tutumluer is Abel Bliss Professor specializing in Transportation Geotechnics in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Professor Tutumluer holds the Paul F. Kent Endowed Faculty Scholar and serves as the Director of International and ZJUI Education Programs. Dr. Tutumluer has research interests and expertise in characterization of pavement and railroad track geomaterials, i.e., subgrade soils and base/ballast unbound aggregates, soil/aggregate stabilization, geosynthetics, advanced imaging techniques and applications of artificial intelligence and deep learning techniques to transportation infrastructure, structural health monitoring of transportation facilities using sensors, modeling granular foundation systems using innovative techniques, sustainable use of foundation geomaterials and construction practices for transportation infrastructure, discrete element analysis of ballast, dynamic response measurement and analyses of track systems, and mechanistic analysis and design. Dr. Tutumluer has served as an investigator on over 120 research projects and graduated 23 PhD and 46 MS students, and authored/co-authored over 350 peer reviewed publications from his research projects. Dr. Tutumluer is a Founding Editor-in-Chief of the Transportation Geotechnics Elsevier journal and the current Chair of the ISSMGE Technical Committee 202 on Transportation Geotechnics. Dr. Tutumluer is a member of the ASCE T&DI and Geo-Institute and served as the Chair of the ASCE Geo-Institute’s Pavements Committee in 2006-2012. He is a member of the AREMA Committee 1 on Ballast and a Council Member and Stabilization Technical Committee Chair of the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS). Dr. Tutumluer is an active affiliate of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and serves as the Chair of TRB’s AKG00 Geology and Geotechnical Engineering Section. He served as the Chair of TRB’s AFP70 Aggregates Committee in 2011-2016. He was the 2000 recipient of the TRB’s Fred Burgraff award for Excellence in Transportation Research; he also received TRB’s Geology and Earth Materials Section Best Paper Awards in 2009, 2012 and 2019, and TRB’s Soil Mechanics Section Best Paper Award in 2016. He was selected and honored with Yangtze River Scholar Award by China Ministry of Education in 2016 and Qiushi Distinguished Professor title by Zhejiang University and delivered the Zeng Guoxi honor lecture in China in 2019. Dr. Tutumluer is the 2020 recipient of the ASCE T&DI James Laurie Prize in recognition of his career accomplishments for promoting Transportation Geotechnics field and the 2021 recipient of ASCE Geo-Institute’s Carl L. Monismith Lecture Award.


Geosynthetic Stabilization of Road Pavements, Railways and Airfields

Geosynthetics provide sustainable alternatives for enhanced performance, durability and cost-effectiveness of road pavements, railways and airfields. Geosynthetic stabilization applications are primarily targeted for soft subgrade stabilization in unpaved roads and working platforms and for unbound aggregate stabilization in paved road foundation and railroad track substructure layers. The main mechanisms are often the load bearing capacity improvement on soft subgrade construction and the lateral restraint to prevent aggregate particle movement. A typical increase in local stiffness in the vicinity of the installed stabilization geosynthetic is commonly observed. Such a local modulus enhancement during road construction and minimizing of degradation related to decrease in modulus with traffic loading need to be properly quantified to evaluate geosynthetic benefits realized by either reducing aggregate layer thickness or extending transportation facility lifespan.  This keynote presentation will report on two decades of developments and research findings at the University of Illinois and elsewhere on the topic of geosynthetic stabilization. These include advanced testing techniques and new sensors developed to quantify benefits of geosynthetic stabilization mechanisms and applications, identification of relevant geosynthetic properties, available design methodologies, and laboratory and full-scale tests and case histories involving the use of geosynthetics in pavements, railways and airfields.


Plenary Keynote Presentations

Prof William Powrie


William Powrie is Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Southampton and Geotechnical Consultant to international groundwater specialists WJ Group. He is known for his work in the areas of transportation and environmental geotechnics, for which he was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2009.

His research expertise encompasses slopes and retaining walls, groundwater control, railway track performance, landfill engineering and characterisation / laboratory testing of “difficult” soils and soil-like materials. He has led nine large collaborative grants including the SUE Waste Consortium, Rail Research UK, Track21 and Track to the Future.

He chairs HS2’s Geotechnical Independent Expert Panel and is a member of the UK Department for Transport Science Advisory Council. He has delivered the Zeng Gui-Xi Lecture (2016), the ICE Unwin Lecture (2018) and the 3rd ISSMGE Ralph Roscoe Proctor Lecture (2021); and was awarded the British Geotechnical Association Medal in 2017.

He is a co-author of the UK Guide to track stiffness and CIRIA (Construction Industry Research and Information Association) guides on embedded retaining walls (C760) and groundwater control (C750), which draw on his research; and author of the internationally-acclaimed textbook Soil mechanics: concepts and applications, now in its third edition.


Soil mechanics principles and models for railway track performance

Predicting the performance of railway track is a challenge owing to the complex and repeated nature of the loading, the many millions of cycles applied over the life of the structure, the need to characterise the often infinitesimal rate of accumulation of plastic settlement, and the importance of the development of differential settlements along the track. All this is in addition to the usual challenges of reproducing in a constitutive model the real behaviour of soil and soil-like materials such as traditional railway ballast. Degradation of the geomaterials comprising the trackbed and the underlying ground or earthwork – for example due to mechanical and environmental effects – may also be a key issue. The lecture will discuss these issues and explore the application of fundamental soil mechanics principles and advanced constitutive models to understanding and quantifying their effects on railway track and trackbed performance.

Prof Abir Al-Tabbaa


Abir Al-Tabbaa is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Cambridge. She is a chartered civil engineer and a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers. She has over 30 years of experience in both academia and industry. She is internationally renowned for her research work on infrastructure materials with a focus on sustainability and resilience. Particular areas of expertise include low carbon cements, carbon capture, storage and reuse, waste treatment and recycling, land remediation, ground improvement, smart infrastructure materials, biomimetic (self-healing and self-sensing) materials, digital tools and sensors, life cycle analyses and carbon calculations. Her work extends the full spectrum from material synthesis and characterisation, testing and validation and field trials and commercial deployment. Much of her work is carried out in collaboration with industry. She has secured over £50M of research funding and has published over 200 journal papers. She runs a large and dynamic research group with over 20 researchers. She represented the University of Cambridge at the World Economic forum in Davos in 2016 and has been interviewed on TV and radio. She is the head of two centres for doctoral training in future infrastructure and built environment, with over £20M of funding from EPSRC and industry and is a co-investigator on the £15M Digital Roads of the Future initiatives leading the smart materials theme.


Digitalised, decarbonised and environmentally responsible pavements of the future

Roads are currently made with many layers of inert materials, poorly documented and monitored, far from being sustainable, maintained reactively and serve no additional functionality. The UK National Highways recent strategy documents on digitalisation and net zero have set tough targets to be met over the next 5-15 years. We will need a complete rethink of the way we design, construct and maintenance our roads if those targets are to be met. We need to be able to build our roads with smart materials aware of their state and properties, documented in Digital Twins, monitored automatically and maintained proactively, able to serve additional functionalities and are low carbon and environmentally responsible. My talk will address these challenges under the three interconnected high level themes of: Digitalisation, Decarbonisation and the Environmentally Responsible drawing on activities from the recently established £15M Digital Roads of the Future Initiative at the University of Cambridge. The initiative is leading the way in the digital revolution of our vital UK road network to make roads safer and greener. It is exploring how digital twins, smart materials, data science and robotic monitoring can work together to develop a connected physical and digital road infrastructure system. Digitalisation will include examples on the application of sensors and the development of self-sensing pavement material. Decarbonisation will cover research on low carbon and self-healing pavements. And environmental responsibility will include examples of research on use of waste and recycling of pavement materials. The talk will conclude with an overview of how the digital-physical platform currently being developed integrates those pavement material innovations within the concept of digital roads.

Prof António Gomes Correia


António Gomes Correia is an Emeritus Professor and Researcher at the Institute for Sustainability and Innovation in Structural Engineering (ISISE) of the University of Minho and Vice president of the International Society for Intelligent Construction (ISIC).

He received a diploma in Civil Engineering from the Technical University of Lisbon – IST in 1977, a Doctor-Engineer Degree from Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées Paris in 1985, a PhD degree in Civil Engineering from the Technical University of Lisbon – IST in 1987, and later in 1998 the title of “Habilitation” in Civil Engineering.

His activities involve research, teaching, and consulting in the general field of geotechnical engineering for 42 years. António’s work has embraced transportation geotechnics, pavement, rail track, compaction, soil improvement, foundations, design, management, and more recently the application of data mining, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in transportation-related problems. He has over 430 technical papers published on these subjects being 178 indexed in SCOPUS (as of May 2022).

He has been a member of the organising/technical committee, as well as a keynote speaker, including the 2nd Proctor Lecture and XXXIII Manuel Rocha Lecture, for many well-established international conferences. He founded the conference series on Transportation Geotechnics and organised the 3rd ICTG in Guimarães in 2016. Associated with the 3rd ICTG he launched the First Meeting/Forum of Young Transportation Geotechnics Engineers. He has also been one of the founding editors for the international journals Transportation Geotechnics (from 2014), as well as Transportation Engineering (from 2020), both published by Elsevier. He is also editor-in-chief of the journal Geotecnia (SPG (Portugal), ABMS (Brazil), SEMSIG (Spain)).


Self-sensing cementitious geocomposite in rail track substructures

A self-sensing cementitious geocomposite recently been developed based on laboratory data showing high physical, mechanical, durability, and piezoresistivity performances. It is a stablised cemented sand incorporating hybrid carbon nanotubes and graphene nanoplatelets as conductive fillers. It has through inference of the load versus strain response the ability to detect material damage based on the relation between electrical impedance and mechanical performance. This smart material will be installed as a structural layer in two transition zones of a Portuguese railway line in operation under the framework of an EU project IN2TRACK3. Besides its ability to capture performance data identifying different structural damage levels within railtrack substructure it is also expected to be used to estimate load intensity, number of axles and speed. It is believed that this novel geocomposite with self-sensitizing capabilities not only works as a conventional structural layer in the rail track substructure but also integrates a continuous monitoring system that exhibits significant advantages over previous conventional methods of monitoring the structural health of rail tracks. This is a contribution to the new era of smart structures that provides critical decision-support information to help managers and operators.

Prof Tatsuya Ishikawa


Dr. Tatsuya Ishikawa is a Professor of the Faculty of Engineering at the Hokkaido University, Japan. After graduation from Kyoto University, Japan, he worked at East Japan Railway Company as an engineer for about 15 years, including about 7 years’ temporary transfer to Railway Technical Research Institute, Japan. In 2002, he became a faculty member of Hokkaido University. So far, he mainly has studied transportation geotechnics, including disaster prevention against heavy rainfall and frost-heave, from the viewpoints of experimental and analytical research.

In the 2022-2026 term, he is the chair of Technical Committee 202 (TC202) on Transportation Geotechnics, International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE), after being the secretary of ISSMGE TC202 during 8 years from 2013 to 2021. Also, from 2013, he is the chair of TC202 Japanese Domestic Committee of Japanese Geotechnical Society. In addition, he is the editorial board member of Transportation Geotechnics Journal and the associate editor of Journal of Soils and Foundations.

Moreover, as the head of the geotechnical disaster survey teams for the August 2016 Hokkaido heavy rainfall and the 2018 Hokkaido Eastern Iburi earthquake etc., he has been engaged in maintaining and securing a safe and secure living environment for residents and developing civil engineering projects in Hokkaido, Japan, from the perspective of disaster prevention and mitigation against the natural disasters under the climate change.


Role of road network for prevention and mitigation of geo-disaster under climate change

Under the climate change in recent years, heavy rainfalls that break observation records almost every year around the world have caused various geo-disasters. In particular, the frequent occurrence of torrential rainfall induced geo-disasters is accompanied by an increase in water-soil complex disasters caused by surface and seepage flows. For example, it has been reported in Japan that a large amount of rainwater, which cannot infiltrate into the soil ground, flows down the paved surface as a water channel, eroding and collapsing the natural slopes, embankments and cut slopes at the downstream. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecasts that both the frequency of torrential rainfall and the amount of rainfall will continue to increase as extreme weather events become more frequent in the future. For this reason, there is a high possibility that record-breaking torrential rainfall will be observed, and that slope disasters at the unexpected locations along roads, which differ from the conventional mechanisms of slope failures, will emerge due to surface and seepage flows. Therefore, this study introduces a wide-area slope stability analysis method considering rainfall infiltration and runoff, which is useful for the risk assessment of water-soil complex landslide disasters with torrential rainfalls, which are expected to increase in various parts of the world in the future. In the end, based on case studies of actual geo-disasters with the analysis method, this study will clarify the perspectives necessary for the risk assessment of transportation infrastructures such as road pavement, which is the outflow path of surface flow, and the disaster prevention and mitigation measures, and explain the role of road network as a linear structure under the climate change.

Prof Matthew Coop


Matthew has about 40 years research experience, concentrating on the behaviour of soils and weak rocks as revealed through high quality laboratory testing. Following industrial experience in offshore foundations and his Doctorate on the behaviour of offshore piles at Oxford University under the supervision of Peter Wroth he was a lecturer/senior lecturer at City University, London before moving to Imperial College in 2000, where he became professor in 2007. In 2010 Matthew moved to the City University of Hong Kong where he established a laboratory specialising in the micro-mechanics of soils returning to London in 2016 to University College. In 2003 he delivered the Géotechnique Lecture. He is the current chair of TC101 of the ISSMGE, for the laboratory testing of soils. He was the founding editor of Géotechnique Letters, the current editor in chief of Géotechnique and is the author of over 110 journal papers which have been awarded ten major research prizes.


The Discrete and Continuum Behaviour of Railway Ballast

The mechanics of coarse-grained geomaterials have traditionally been examined from a continuum mechanics standpoint, but this has led to ever more complex constitutive models as an increasing number of novel aspects of behaviour are investigated. For this reason, there is a tendency to move towards discrete approaches. Such approaches require accurate definition and modelling of the particle shapes, for which considerable progress has been made, and also the contact mechanics between particles, about which little is known. For very coarse materials such as railway ballast, our understanding at the continuum scale has been hampered further by the technical difficulties in the laboratory testing so that the very small strain behaviour has been difficult to define with accuracy. New apparatus and techniques will be described to test ballast at both the continuum and particulate scales. These allow the small strain stiffness to be defined with accuracy in triaxial tests and to carry out precise particle to particle contact tests. At the particle contact scale the behaviour is dominated by the roughness of the particles and their relatively sharp contacts, so that plasticity and particle wear predominate that both change the contact properties significantly. It is the contact plasticity that then controls the decay in continuum stiffness with strain. The work emphasises the inadequacy of using simple linear and/or elastic DEM models calibrated from macro-scale tests rather than deriving the correct contact behaviour directly.

Prof Charles W. W. Ng


Professor Charles W. W. Ng is a Vice-President of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in Guangzhou campus. He is also the Dean of HKUST Fok Ying Tung Graduate School, CLP Holdings Professor of Sustainability and Chair Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at HKUST. He is the immediate Past President of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (2017–2022). He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, an Overseas Fellow of Churchill College, the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences. Currently, he is an Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Geotechnical Journal and an Editor of Landslides.   Professor Ng has published some 400 SCI journal articles. He is the main author of three reference books: “A Short Course in Soil-structure Engineering of Deep Foundations, Excavations and Tunnels” published by Thomas Telford in 2004, and “Advanced Unsaturated Soil Mechanics and Engineering” and “Plant-Soil Slope Interaction” by CRC: Taylor & Francis in 2007 and 2019, respectively.


Effects of climate change on transport infrastructure

The climate is changing, and the unequivocal global warming has brought significant changes in our climate system. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2013) concludes that climate change will result in an increase in temperature as well as changes in the water cycle, possibly leading to extreme drought-rainfall conditions and freeze-thaw cycles. Can our existing transport infrastructure such as high-speed railway lines supported by earthen embankments cope with these extreme weather conditions? Do we have enough physical and reliable data to design our future transportation system?

In this keynote, a novel environmental chamber, which is capable to simulate the effects of extreme cycles of temperature, rainfall and humidity on an embankment in-flight in a geotechnical centrifuge test, will be described. By employing the newly developed centrifuge environmental chamber, a series of centrifuge tests were carried out to assess the influence of thermal cycles on the deformation mechanisms of soil embankment, extreme events of drought-rainfall on the stability of embankment slopes and the slope deterioration mechanisms under freeze-thaw cycles. The thermo-hydro-mechanical response of the embankments will be reported and discussed. New insights on the deformation and failure mechanisms will be revealed and design implications for future transport infrastructure will be addressed and highlighted.


Prof Jayantha Kodikara


Professor Jayantha Kodikara is Director of ARC Hub for Smart Next Generation Transport Pavements – SPARC ( at the Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University. He is also the Leader of Monash Pipeline Research Group (, which has led/is leading multi-million global projects including Advanced Condition Assessment and Pipe Failure Prediction Project and CRC-p Smart Lining for Deteriorated Pipe Rehabilitation Project.

His current primary research areas are unsaturated soils, geo-infrastructure including pipelines and road pavements, and structural health monitoring using advanced sensing such as distributed fibre optics, GPR and associated modelling. Altogether, he has over 300 publications on a diverse range of topics, and graduating about 40 PhD students. He is a Chartered Professional Engineer in Australia and a Fellow of Engineers Australia. His fundamental research has led to the development of MPK (Monash-Peradeniya-Kodikara) Framework and Model for unsaturated compacted soil modelling, which uncovered a direct link of the traditional compaction curve to advanced unsaturated soil modelling. Seminal contributions in the applied research area include the elucidation of buried water pipe failure and deterioration mechanisms, which has led to paradigm shifts in pipeline asset management globally.

He has received several awards for innovation and industry collaboration including three national and International Water Association Awards, B/HERT Award in 2016, ARRB Impact Award in 2019, and Monash Vice-Chancellor’s and Dean’s Awards for Innovation and Enterprise in 2019 and 2013.


Alignment of the unbound pavement testing, design and construction to get due benefit of digitalisation

The world is experiencing the effects of increasing digitalisation within the so-called Industry 4.0 revolution where physical and digital worlds are merging. Inevitably, the geotechnical practice is also taking necessary steps to adapt to this change. Ideally, the essence of such a change must be towards not only productivity and economic gains but also towards the enhancement of human well-being and sustainability. A key aspect of Industry 4.0 is the integration of processes to maximise benefits.

Building on the ideas generated within SPARC Hub, this presentation will focus on a practical approach to the integration of processes involved in the unbound pavement technology. Unbound pavements with thin seals account for around 90% of road pavements in Australia, which is the ninth largest road network in the world. While unbound pavements have served well in Australian climate and traffic conditions, much of the processes involved in testing, design, construction and subsequent condition assessment of these pavements are predominantly disparate processes without much connectivity. In addition, some of the processes are highly empirical based on age-old data, and have not benefitted sufficiently from the recent advances in unsaturated soil mechanics. It follows then that we are at crossroads to reimagine these processes so that this technology can reap due benefits of the ongoing digitalisation. In this context, this presentation will highlight a practical approach that integrates these processes through smarter yet cheaper testing leading to the up-to-date science-based design and performance-based intelligent construction. The presentation will also highlight some of the innovations that SPARC made to achieve this goal and show their applicability in the global context.

Prof Anand Puppala


Dr. Anand J. Puppala currently serves as A. P. Wiley and Florence Chair of Zachry Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University and is Director of Center for Infrastructure Renewal (CIR) since 2019. He was a Distinguished Scholar Professor of the Civil Engineering department at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Dr. Puppala was the chair of Soil Mechanics section (AFS00) of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and is a member of Transportation Infrastructure Group of TRB. He is a Governor of ASCE GI Board. Dr Puppala is the chair of ISSMGE’s Technical Committee 307 on Sustainability in Geotechnical Engineering. Dr Puppala has been conducting research on sustainable stabilization of expansive soils, combined sustainable and resiliency assessments of ground improvement works, use of recycled materials in geotechnical works, UAVs for infrastructure monitoring studies and proactive asset management studies, and coastal infrastructure resilience studies.

Dr. Puppala has been a recipient of several major research grants totaling from federal, state and local government agencies. Dr. Puppala’s research scholarly record included 500+ publications including 220+ Journals and he has also edited seven special publications. He has supervised 42 Doctoral and 52 Masters’ thesis students and is currently advising 9 doctoral students and three postdoctoral fellows. Dr. Puppala is an editorial member for several major journals in Civil Engineering including Transportation Research Record of TRB and edited several books including seven ASCE Special Publications. He has given several Keynote and invited talks all over the World including a prestigious ASCE GI Peck talk at 2020 GeoCongress Meeting held at Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Applications of Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for Structural Health Monitoring of Transportation Geotechnical Infrastructure Assets

Today’s widespread use of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) for infrastructure applications in the United States can be owed to the early contributions made by the US military and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) toward developing robust and reliable uncrewed aerial vehicles for reconnaissance applications. Fixed-wing and rotary-wing UAVs are the most common types used for inspections, however, the advantages of having higher payload capacity and flight durations have propelled the use of hybrid vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAVs for inspecting vast areas. These modern-day data collection tools offer a platform to mount a wide variety of sensors including optical, thermal, multi-spectral, hyperspectral cameras, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), and other versatile payloads to remotely gather condition information for various applications. The past few decades have witnessed a phenomenal rise in the development of compact high-capacity sensors at an affordable cost, which led to the recent revolution in the use of UAVs for monitoring infrastructure assets such as pavements, rail corridors, bridges, airports, dams, embankments, towers, and other structures, etc. Transportation geotechnical projects are using these cutting-edge data collection tools to safely and efficiently access and closely inspect vast infrastructure assets, especially in hard-to-reach areas. Some of the applications include monitoring the performance of pavements overlying problematic soils, slope stability analysis, erosion, bridge abutments, retaining walls, and other transportation geotechnical infrastructure assets. Although safety and efficiency are some of the apparent benefits, the three-dimensional models generated from the aerial imagery provide the asset managers with an ability to perform quantitative inspection through immersive navigation and give much-needed perspective to make informed decisions. A single dataset can be used to obtain multiple attributes of the infrastructure asset. The consistency in conducting repeatable inspections also enables the inspectors to conduct temporal monitoring of an asset

Prof Samanthika Liyanapathirana


Soil-structure interaction issues in Integral Abutment Bridges

Integral Abutment Bridges (IABs) are built by integrating the superstructure with the abutments, without any expansion joints. In conventional bridges, expansion joints and bearings are the mostly exposed and severely loaded elements and subjected to accumulation of dirt and extremes of thermal movements, requiring regular maintenance. Also at the construction stage, expansion joints are very expensive to design, manufacture and install. Hence, IABs are often preferred over conventional bridges with expansion joints. Although above attributes make IABs highly desirable, there are some limitations from the point of view of Geotechnical engineers. Majority of these limitations are related to the expansion and contraction of the superstructure due to daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations. The active and passive pressure cycles developed within the retained backfill causes build-up of lateral earth pressures acting on the abutment, known as stress ratchetting. It can have significant detrimental effects on the superstructure and abutments. As a result of cycling, a settlement trough is also developed behind the abutment. Normally the length of IABs is limited to reduce the stress ratchetting and settlements at the bridge approach. The current understanding of above mentioned issues are inadequate and the IAB design is mostly dependent on idealisations and simplifications in relation to soil-structure interaction issues. Current design approaches do not reflect the long-term earth pressure effects due to cyclic temperature changes. If the significance of temperature changes and subsequent soil-structure interaction effects are identified, super-long IABs can be designed to achieve satisfactory performance. Therefore, this presentation will discuss the current design guidelines for IABs and the inadequacy of those guidelines, the development of a half-scaled model at the Geomechanics lab of the University of Western Sydney, complex soil-structure interaction issues observed during experiments and mitigation measures that can be adopted to reduce approach settlement and stress ratchetting at the abutment-soil interface.


Samanthika is a Professor at the University of Western Sydney. She received her PhD from the University of Western Australia. Currently she serves as a college of expert for the Australian Research Council. Her research is focused on computational geomechanics. She received the Thomas A. Middlebrooks Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers for the research carried out in the design of pile foundations in seismically active regions and the Australian Geomechanics Award for the research carried out on geosynthetic reinforced deep cement mixed column supported embankments. Her current research projects include investigating complex soil-structure interaction issues in integral bridge abutments due to ambient temperature changes, subgrade mud pumping due to dynamic loading, and alkaline activation of clay minerals and waste glass for ground improvement. She is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia. Also, she is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and She is the first female elected from Australia for this prestigious Fellowship.

Prof Britta Bienen


Britta is a Professor, specialising in offshore geotechnical engineering. Current research interests focus on challenges related to foundations for offshore wind turbines: The effect of the installation process on the in-service performance of monopiles, installation strategies for suction buckets in layered soils and the subsequent in-service performance of the foundations, rapid shearing of saturated sand and the impact of this fundamental geomechanical problem on the wave heights that jack-up wind installer vessels can operate in.

Britta’s research combines experimental and numerical approaches to develop practical prediction methods for offshore foundations. Britta collaborates widely, both with academia and industry and is actively involved in the development of international guidelines (ISO, InSafeJIP).


Geotechnical engineering for large infrastructure projects such as offshore wind farms

Offshore wind farms are not only major infrastructure projects in themselves, but also tend to require significant investment in related infrastructure such as port facilities. Geotechnical engineering underpins the safe, reliable design and operation of all this infrastructure.

Australia must build 41 GW of offshore wind power by 2040 to reach its CO2 emission targets. To put this into context, the installed capacity in 2022 was 58 GW – globally, and there is not a single offshore wind turbine installed in Australia to date.

Foundations have grown with the size of offshore wind turbines and are large structures that have to be accommodated at the marshalling port, be ensured to be installed to target depth offshore – often in complex seabed conditions – before withstanding millions of load cycles over typically 30 years of wind turbine operation offshore. This lecture will draw from developments in foundations for offshore wind turbines, including new solutions of rapid pile installation with low acoustic emissions, and understanding of the challenges of Australia’s seabed conditions.

Prof Xuecheng Bian


Dr Bian Xuecheng is Qiushi Distinguished Professor of Zhejiang University. He received his Ph.D. from Okayama University, Japan, and was a visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, and the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Dr Bian’s research interests focus on transportation geotechnical engineering, particularly rail geotechnics for high-speed railways. His research has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the leading railway industries. His research results have been widely used in the construction and maintenance of high-speed railways in China.

In 2014, he was granted the Newton Advanced Fellowship by the Royal Society, and was granted the Distinguished Young Scientist Award by the National Natural Science Foundation of China in 2021. He is serving as associate editor of the Transportation Geotechnics journal and as members of several international societies.


Performance of geogrid-stabilized ballast trackbed for high-speed railways

High-speed railways are undergoing rapid development in many countries in recent decades. Achieving a deeper understanding of the fundamental mechanism of the ballast trackbed deformation under dynamic train loads, and thus developing effective design is a pressing problem, but some technical challenges remain. High-speed train can induce strong vibration in the ballast layers resulting in excessive particle movement and abrasions. Trackbed deformation is the main source of track settlement under the train traffic loads, and intensify the dynamic impact between train and track, and in turn significantly accelerate the deterioration of the granular trackbed, increasing maintenance cost, risk of train derailment and foundation failure.

This study, involving particle-scale numerical modelling and full-scale physical model testing on track-ballast system under the dynamic loads induced by high-speed trains, to explore effect of particle shape, size and packing structure on particle flow pattern that develop in ballasts and the effectiveness of geogrid embedded in the ballast on restraining particle movements, to provide insights into the stabilization of ballasted trackbed. The full-scale model tests that able to replicate the actual service condition of ballasted tracks were conducted on a conventional trackbed and a geogrid-stabilized trackbed under millions of high-speed train wheel axle loads. The geogrid was proved to be able to limit the movements of ballast particles effectively and improve the performance of the trackbed. In addition, the ballast particle breakage was significantly reduced, and the permanent settlement of ballast layer was reduced by more than 40% with geogrid stabilization. A field experiment of ballast railway sections with three different ballast stabilizations has been performed, with the cooperation of the China Railway Shanghai Group Corporation and the Tensar International Corporation. Both the full-scale model tests and field experiment have demonstrated the performance of geogrid stabilized ballast trackbed under train traffic loads, even at high speeds.

Prof Geng Xueyu


Dr Xueyu Geng is a Reader in Ground Engineering at the University of Warwick, UK. She has conducted both fundamental and applied research in the disciplines of soil dynamics and soil reinforcement. Her contributions through research to innovative design and construction practices in rail track engineering and problematic ground improvement for stabilising transport infrastructure have made a significant impact worldwide. The above contributions have been instrumental in changing industry practices, including revisions to Australian Standards and Chinese Standards. She has consistently led a number of research projects as Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-Investigator (Co-I) worth millions of pounds of research funding. She has published over 100 papers and delivered over 30 invited papers on all continents.

Her contributions are reflected by many awards, for instance, the Robert Quigley Awards from the Canadian Geotechnical Society, The UK Engineer Collaborate to Innovate Awards Finalist award, etc. She is a Fellow of The British Geological Society (FGS), Fellow of The Higher Education Academy (FHEA), Chartered Engineering from ICE (CEng), and a Member of ICE (MICE). She is also the Editor in Chief for Proceeding of the Institution of Civil Engineering – Geotechnical Engineering, Editorial Board member for Proceeding of the Institution of Civil Engineering – Ground Improvement, and Editorial Board member for Transportation Geotechnics.

She is also enthusiastic about teaching and learning at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.


Enabling resilient railway earthworks through data-assisted risk assessment and eco-friendly earth reinforcement material

The performance of the railway system is heavily dependent on cuttings and embankment slopes, most of which were built 100 years ago in the UK. They were not designed for today’s vehicle speed, operation frequency and weather conditions. Under the effect of climate change, increasingly extreme weather conditions increase the likelihood of railway earthwork failures. The failures could risk lives, cause costly disruption and result in costly repair bills. The UK’s leading position in achieving the 2030 goal for sustainable development emphasises the urgency of the development of a sustainable engineering solution not only to increase the infrastructure resilience and protect vital transport earthworks but also to minimise the impact on the sounding ecosystem. Although our railway earthworks are facing a lot of challenges, the latest advances in technology through digitalisation by integrating new revolutionary data technologies of artificial intelligence (AI) and material science, could promise new heights in safety and performance. This presentation will demonstrate the developed railway earthwork risk forecasting system by leveraging traditional soil mechanics with data science. Furthermore, in order to develop eco-friendly construction materials to reinforce railway earthworks, laboratory test results from static/dynamic triaxial for saturated and unsaturated soil will also be presented. Most importantly, the evaluation of biodegradation of the newly developed eco-friendly material and its impact on the soil ecosystem will also be presented for further material modification. Therefore, the soil reinforcement solution provided here is an aesthetically pleasing, environmentally and ecologically friendly alternative to traditional “hard” engineering methods, providing the additional environmental and societal benefits of carbon fixation, enhanced biodiversity and ecosystem restoration within the built environment.

State-of-Practice (SOP) and State-of-the-Art (SOA) Presentations

Dr Richard Kelly
State-of-Practice Lecture


Dr Richard Kelly is Chief Technical Principal and General Manager of Technical Excellence at SMEC Australia.

Richard has 28 years of experience: 9 years in academia and 19 years in practice. Richard has had a long association with transportation infrastructure and ground improvement and co-presented the state of the art paper in transportation geotechnics at ICSMGE 2022.


S-O-P in transportation geotechnics with ground improvement applications

Australia is undergoing a boom in construction of transportation infrastructure with associated ground improvement. Projects are becoming ever larger and more complex. The capacity and capability of our profession to deliver these projects are explored with input from asset owners, contractors, designers and educators. Depending on the project, earthworks and pavements can comprise 20% to 40% of project cost. Foundations and retaining structures are other important cost areas. Risk associated with the ground is typically a key issue along with risk management. Emerging areas such as sustainability, resilience and the digital age are identified and discussed. Some thoughts on engineering education and connection with industry are provided.

Prof Chu Jian
State-of-the-Art Lecture


School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Prof CHU Jian, President’s Chair in Civil Engineering, is the Chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Director of the Centre for Urban Solutions at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). He also worked for Iowa State University, USA, from 2011 to 2014 as professor and James M. Hoover Chair in Geotechnical Engineering. Prof Chu is currently the Chair of Technical Committee TC217 on Land Reclamation and a Committee Member for TC211 on Ground Improvement under ISSMGE. He is an Editor of Acta Geotechnica, Editor-in-Chief of Biogeotechnics, and Co-Editor for Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, ASCE. Prof Chu has delivered over 60 keynote or invited lectures at international conferences. As a past President of the Geotechnical Society of Singapore, Prof Chu has worked as a consultant or advisor for several large-scale projects in Singapore and overseas. He received the R. M. Quigley Award from the Canadian Geotechnical Society in 2004 and the Outstanding Geotechnical Engineer Award from the Geotechnical Society of Singapore in 2018.


Land Reclamation and Related Ground Improvement for Roads or Ports

When constructing roads or ports in the coastal regions, land reclamation and/or soil improvement are required sometimes to allow part of the roads to be built in the sea or to form road embankments on soft ground. The soil improvement works involved in these projects can be challenging especially when deep soft marine deposits are encountered. In this lecture, the land reclamation and related soil improvement methods adopted for roads or ports projects are summarised. Case histories will be presented to illustrate the applications of some of these methods and the efforts of soil improvements. These include land reclamation using mud, soil improvement for road construction on reclaimed land, and soil improvement for road construction on soft soil. In view of sea level rise, new methods for coastal developments are required to tackle new challenges associated with climate change. Some of the new ideas for coastal developments for coastal roads are also introduced. Finally, methods to restore or enhance the marine ecosystem will also be elaborated.


Heritage Oration

Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna


Currently, Buddhima Indraratna is a Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering and the Director of Transport Research Centre, at University of Technology Sydney. Formerly, he was a Distinguished Professor and the Founding Director of Australian Research Council’s Training Centre for Rail Infrastructure (ARC ITTC-Rail) at the University of Wollongong.

He is also an Honorary Distinguished Professor at the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, Indian Institute of Technology, in Assam and Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China.

Buddhima is a Civil Engineering graduate from Imperial College, London. Since his PhD at University of Alberta in Canada in 1987, his contributions to geotechnical and railway engineering have been acknowledged through numerous national and international awards, including 1st Ralph Proctor Lecture and 4th Louis Menard Lecture of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. He also delivered the 2009 EH Davis Memorial Lecture of the Australian Geomechanics Society for contributions to Theory and Practice of Geomechanics and the 2022 Stephen Marich lecture on Advances in Railroad Engineering.

For his pioneering contributions, he was honoured with the 2009 Business and Higher Education award by the Australian Commonwealth, 2011 Engineers Australia Transport Medal and 2015 Australia-New Zealand Railway Technical Society’s Outstanding Individual Award. Other numerous international awards include Thomas Telford Premium by the Institution of Civil Engineers (UK), thrice the recipient of Robert Quigley commendation awards by the Canadian Geotechnical Society, and the Medal of Excellence for life-time contributions by the International Association of Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics.

Buddhima currently leads numerous projects worth over $1.5 million per year. He has been a consultant to various infrastructure organisations worldwide, and a former United Nations expert representing Australia. He has published nearly 900 papers including 12 books, over 450 journal papers, and more than 70 invited Keynote papers in all continents.

So far, he has supervised over 100 PhD and Master’s graduates and over 40 Postdoctoral Fellows. He is the Chair of the Ground Improvement Advisory Board of Inst. of Civil Engineers, UK, and the Chief Editor of the Journal of Ground Improvement.

Buddhima is a Fellow of the prestigious Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE), Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia (FIEAust), Fellow of American Society of Civil Engineers (FASCE), Fellow of Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (FAusIMM), and Fellow of the Geological Society of UK (FGS).

He is a Chartered Professional Engineer of Australia, United Kingdom, and Sri Lanka.


Advances in Australian Transportation Geomechanics

In early 1990s there was hardly any rail track research conducted in Australian Universities. The design methods were largely empirical and often track design was carried out by mechanical and structural engineers with insignificant geotechnical input. The Heritage Oration will describe the Australian heavy-haul track problems and how strategic R&D efforts were launched since 1990s by the speaker to rejuvenate Australian track design and construction with geotechnical concepts. The presentation will include the historical developments during the past three decades of the innovations in large-scale process simulation testing, ballast breakage analysis, void contamination and related track behaviour, the role of track confining pressure and the evolvement of modern rail track analysis through FEM and DEM methods, the assessment of mud pumping under cyclic train loading, and the most recent use of waste materials in track construction embracing a more favourable carbon footprint and capturing energy efficient and circular economy perspectives.