Geotechnical Engineering is a diverse branch of civil engineering which involves the application of the disciplines of soil and rock mechanics to the design of foundations, tunnels, dams, cuttings and slopes. Unlike conventional civil engineering materials, such as concrete, timber and steel, geotechnical materials are highly complex, consisting of various portions of solid (soil or rock), gas (usually air) and fluid (usually water). The interaction between these three elements, and their individual characteristics, controls their engineering behaviour. This complex behaviour can be studied through element tests undertaken in the laboratory, in situ testing, reduced scale modelling and numerical analysis.
The main areas of geotechnical engineering research within SuRE focus on soil-structure interaction, and novel foundations systems for wind turbines. Soil mechanics research includes accelerated physical modelling of consolidation, contamination and flow processes, soil reinforcement and soil stabilisation, the development of soil strength, and index testing by quasi-static penetration. The group also carries out research in various fields of rock mechanics, such as modelling the behaviour of homogeneous and jointed rock masses, laboratory evaluation of the engineering behaviour of soft rock, and the behaviour of rock slopes in permafrost areas.