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Industry must take time to share case studies

Geotechnical engineers must ensure they share case studies and publish information in order to move the industry on, according to retired geotechnical engineer Howard Roscoe.

Roscoe, who won the first Cooling Prize event in 1970, was speaking last night about his work on the HS1 Ashford Tunnels in Kent as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Cooling Prize at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London last night.

Roscoe presented details of the back analysis carried out on the 14 cut and cover structures built using bored pile retaining walls to carry HS1 through Ashford town centre and how the observational method was used to reduce prop stiffness and improve design as the work progressed.

“Some were built using top down techniques, while others were bottom up,” he said. “We used back analysis of the first completed structures to match the design characteristics to measured performance to improve the later structures.”

Roscoe said that there was very little published data about such structures at the time and Ciria’s C580 embedded retaining wall document was being written while the work was underway and the more recent C760 has been published since. However, Roscoe questioned whether the industry had continued to publish case histories at the same rate as the use of such structures has grown.

Roscoe quoted a paper published after completion of the Ashford work that said: “each new case history adds to the data bank which allows an invaluable way of checking simple predictions”. Roscoe said that he believed that the publication of case histories since the work at Ashford has not increased.

“I wonder if we have reached a tipping point? For my generation, we had too little data to present but now there is too much data and not enough time to publish case histories,” he said. “Without sharing this information, we will not move on as an industry.”

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