An EPSRC collaboration between Imperial College London and the University of Sheffield

Civil engineering works often encounter water flowing through the ground. When considering their design, engineers seek to avoid cases where the buoyancy forces exerted by the seeping water are sufficient to reduce the effective stress in the soil to zero, resulting in heave failure or "quicksand".

Awareness is growing that seepage forces imparted on the particles can preferentially erode the smaller particles in sandy soils. There can be significant internal erosion of the soil under scenarios that are considered safe according to the classical continuum calculations used in engineering practice; this phenomenon is called internal instability.

This research will improve understanding of internal instability and thereby our knowledge of how to design and assess infrastructure safely, by studying the fundamental, particle scale mechanisms involved.

Funded by:

EPSRC (Grant No. EP/P010393/1

Academic team:

Dr Catherine O'Sullivan (PI - Imperial); Dr Elisabeth Bowman (PI - Sheffield); Dr. Tom Shire (Glasgow); Dr. Jonathan Black (Sheffield)

Research team:

Imperial: Dr. Adnan Suifan (Now moved to the University of Queensland),  Dr. Budi Zhao, Dr. Hanqiao Che.

Sheffield: Dr. Nicoletta Santivale





Project Updates:

  • On August 31 and September 1 2017 a project kick-off workshop took place at Imperial College London.  Selected presentations from the workshop are available at Seepage Workshop.
  • Prof. Catherine O'Sullivan presented findings from this project during her keynote lecture at DEM8: DEM Dams and Dikes

Research output:

  1. Piping – UK Research perspective: Presentation to Levee Safety Partnership, Amsterdam, Oct 2018
  2. Sufian et al. (2019) Ability of a pore network model to predict fluid flow and drag in saturated granular materials Computers and Geotechnics