Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical Science and Engineering
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:
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 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.
Read about the PRCGE's novel research into the suitability of using hemp seed to remove PFAS contamination from groundwater.
Read about the PRCGSE's current research on Hard Soils and Soft Rocks.
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.
The research is seeking to understand the importance of both particle size and shape on the shear strength and behaviour of granular materials.
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.
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 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.