iSMART: Infrastructure slopes – Sustainable Management And Resilience Assessment

July 2013 – December 2016

Professor Stephanie Glendinning, Newcastle University

Vision: to create a model of transient water movement in infrastructure slopes under a range of current and future environmental scenarios, based on a fundamental understanding of earthwork material and system behaviour, which can be used to create a more reliable, cost effective, safer and more sustainable transport system.

It is important for the sustainable management of infrastructure slopes (assessment, planning, repair, maintenance and adaptation) to have models that can assess the likely engineering performance of infrastructure slopes, both now and in the future. Recent model development has started to consider the input of weather patterns, and can therefore model the potential effects of future climate. However, these models are sensitive to the way in which a number of the physical processes and properties are incorporated, many of which are complex and difficult to quantify directly. A better understanding of the interactions between earthworks, vegetation and climate is required to formulate robust guidance on which maintenance approaches should be adopted and how they should be applied.

iSMART is using a combination of field measurements, lab testing and development of conceptual and numerical models to investigate the uncertainties and knowledge gaps enumerated above and to visualise the complex interactions taking place over time and space. This knowledge will help managers of the UK’s transport infrastructure to identify problem sites, plan and prioritise maintenance activity, and develop assessment and adaptation strategies to ensure future safety and resilience of geotechnical transport infrastructure.