Construction, management and maintenance of embankments used for road and rail infrastructure: implications of weather induced pore water pressures

Stephanie Glendinning, Paul Hughes*, Peter Helm, Jonathan Chambers, Joao Mendes, David Gunn, Paul Wilkinson, Sebastien Uhlemann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding the age and construction quality of embankments used for road and rail infrastructure is critical in the effective management and maintenance of our transport networks, worth £billions to the UK economy. This paper presents for the first time results from full-scale, carefully controlled experiments on a unique model embankment conducted over the 4-year period between 2008 and 2011. It combines point location and spatially distributed measurements of pore water pressures and water content with outputs from hydrological modelling to draw conclusions of significance to both ongoing research in this field and to the asset management practices of infrastructure owners. For researchers, the paper highlights the crucial importance of transient permeability and soil water retention behaviour of fill materials in controlling the magnitude and distribution of pore water pressure in response to climate and weather events. For practitioners, the work demonstrates that there are significant differences in pore water pressure behaviour across the embankment, which is influenced by construction-related issues such as compaction level, aspect and presence of a granular capping material. Permeability was also observed to vary across the embankment both spatially and with depth, being dependent on degree of saturation and macroscale effects, particularly within a ‘near surface zone’. It is proposed that this ‘near surface zone’ has a critical effect on embankment stability and should be the focus of both ongoing scientific research and inspection and monitoring as encompassed by asset management regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-816
Number of pages18
JournalActa Geotechnica
Volume9
Issue number5
Early online date13 May 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

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