Speaker close up: Kevin Briggs

land remediation expo blog post 1

As The Contamination Expo Series draws ever closer, we wanted to reveal some more of the fascinating seminars occurring across the two day event. You can confirm your tickets for the event by going to www.geotechexpo.com/speakers before taking a deeper look at the complete speaker line up.

Kevin Briggs is one of the many pioneering professionals leading seminars throughout the event, but we wanted to explore the amazing work Kevin does on the ACHILLES Project. His research is being used to assess the impact of a changing climate on the ageing and degradation of infrastructure earthworks (embankments & cuttings) supporting the railway and highway networks.

Tickets for The Contamination Expo Series are available from http://www.cleanairexpo.com Now

Could you tell us a bit about your current role on the ACHILLES project?

Kevin: I am working with five other universities and the British Geological Survey on the ACHILLES Project, which is led by Prof. Stephanie Glendinning at Newcastle University. Our team brings together expertise in transport infrastructure across ground engineering, economics, climate change forecasting and the analysis of large, complex datasets. We will examine how ‘long linear infrastructure assets’, such as our roads, railway embankments, pipeline bedding and flood protection structures, can be better maintained and monitored to make them more resilient for the future.

My role as a geotechnical engineer is to understand how weather, ageing and a changing climate is degrading the soils forming infrastructure earthworks (cuttings and embankments). I will work with the rest of the team to produce deterioration curves for the different types of infrastructure earthworks, which literally form the foundation of our national infrastructure networks. The curves will forecast how the performance of these earthworks will increase or decrease over the next 100+ years.

Could you tell us about your background/what led you to the ACHILLES project?

Kevin: I am a lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Bath and I have been working in this area since starting my research at Southampton University in 2007. During that time, I have been able to work with world-leading academics through EPSRC-funded projects and benefit from secondments to Mott MacDonald and Network Rail.

What drives you to do the work that you do?

Kevin: We have inherited an ageing transport infrastructure network which was constructed in the days of the steam engine. Some of this forms a part of our industrial heritage, but it also allows us to get to work quickly and safely every day. It has a lot of value to us both in strict economic terms and in terms of culture and heritage. I am keen to ensure that our ageing transport infrastructure continues its long life and can be adapted to meet the needs of the 21st Century. This involves detective work to understand the history of our existing infrastructure and the use of numerical simulations to forecast its future behaviour. There is also the opportunity conduct interesting experiments and develop new science!

Could you give us a bit more information on the seminar you will be running at the show?

Kevin: The seminar will outline the new (2018) ACHILLES Project led by Newcastle University and including five other universities plus the British Geological Survey. We are examining how ‘long linear infrastructure assets’, such as our roads, railway embankments, pipeline bedding and flood protection structures, can be better maintained and monitored to make them more resilient for the future.  I will give an insight into some of the science we are using to understand how infrastructure slopes are degrading and how this affects their performance as infrastructure assets. This research includes laboratory experiments, full-scale testing and the analysis of network-scale datasets. I will also present the numerical models that we are using to forecast the performance of infrastructure earthworks over the next 100 years.

What future projects do you have coming up?

Kevin: ACHILLES is a 4.5 year project, which began in July 2018. It follows on directly from the EPSRC-funded iSMART Project (Infrastructure slopes Sustainable Management And Resilience assessmenT) where we explored earthwork behaviour and developed the theory of deterioration. This project will keep me busy for a while. Both to develop the new science and to transfer this into something that is useful for our stakeholders and for society as a whole.

Be sure to secure your tickets to The Contamination Series by visiting the contaminationexpo.com website. You can also check out the complete digital show guide in order to get a grasp on the plethora on content available for visitors across the two days.