Providing an environment that is free from contamination is critical to the wellbeing of society. Research in the PRGSE is addressing both current and emerging environmental issues, including the fate and treatment of heavy metals and “perflurochemical” substances (PFASs). The latter are some of the most pernicious contaminants of our time which potentially affect a significant number of airport and defense fire-fighting installations around the globe. PRGSE investigators are currently working to deliver cost-effective and natural solutions to the global problem of PFAS contamination in soil and groundwater based on the recent discovery that certain proteins in hemp seed powder can remove these chemicals effectively. Other Geo-Environmental issues of interest within the PRCGSE include the development of generation waste facilities to reliably contain emerging contaminants and future-proofing against climate change to protect at risk coastal

Find out more about some of the current projects related to this theme:

Mine Subsidence and Groundwater Anamolies in Old, Abandoned, Shallow Workings

Newcastle, NSW and many of its surrounding districts have a legacy of abandoned coal mines. Read about the research collaboration with Subsidence Advisory NSW which seeks to better understand the risks of subsidence.

Groundwater in Waste Dumps and its Effect on Stability

Groundwater conditions in mine waste dumps are critical to dump stability but they are poorly understood. Mine waste dumps are amongst the largest of all man-made structures, so efficient and reliable dump design is essential. The objectives of this research are to develop a model for the hydrological characteristics of an advancing waste rock dump in active mines, based on factual evidence and laboratory measurements.

Novel Remediation of PFAS Contamination

Read about the PRCGE's novel research into the suitability of using hemp seed to remove PFAS contamination from groundwater.

Mechanics of Hard Soils and Soft Rocks

Read about the PRCGSE's current research on Hard Soils and Soft Rocks.

Tributyl Tin Remediation and Stabilisation

Organotins including tributyl tin (TBT) are an effective biocide that were widely used historically to prevent or inhibit the growth of algae, barnacles, shellfish and other marine invertebrates on the hulls of a ships. Read about the PRCGSE's current research on remediation.

Particle Characterisation of Granular Materials and their Effect on Shear Strength

The research is seeking to understand the importance of both particle size and shape on the shear strength and behaviour of granular materials.

Characterisation of Mine Waste Materials for Improved Management and Disposal Practices

The research includes characterisation of saturated and unsaturated hydraulic properties of waste rock, tailings and natural soils, characterisation of the strength and durability of these materials, evaluation of the evolution of these characteristics in materials during and after mining, exploration of approaches to integrate different materials so as to mitigate undesirable behaviours, or enhance favourable ones.

Landslides and Rockfalls in and Adjacent to the Sydney Basin

This research is interested in finding out why some settings are more prone to such instability than others. North of the Hunter River, the variably dipping strata of the southern New England Fold Belt present translational block slides on a massive scale, and these too are not well understood.

The Environmental Geotechnics of Coal Mine Spoil

Much of Australia's export wealth comes from the export of mined coal. An unavoidable consequence of open-cut mining of coal is that it disturbs large volumes of ground, altering its structure and hydromechanical properties to significant depths.

The aim of this work is to present salinity and hydrological data, for a range of typical spoil materials from the Hunter Valley, that can be used in the modelling and prediction of salt release from overburden piles in abandoned coal mines.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.