Engineers Australia

Laboratory Testing, Theory and Practical Application

The course aims to provide information on geotechnical laboratory testing methods to professionals working in the civil and mining industry. Although the subject is often taught during formal education, the actual implementation of that knowledge is not always straight forward. Some of the issues that will be covered in this workshop are:

  • How to determine the soil water characteristic curve from laboratory measurements
  • Methods on how to assess the probability of erosion from laboratory testing
  • The usefulness of testing, scheduling testing and problems with testing
  • Different methods on how to determine the hydraulic conductivity and to analyse the Darcy hydraulic conductivity even for measurements under partly turbulent or turbulent flow conditions
  • Presentation of typical laboratory test methods in rock mechanics for evaluating the intact rocks and discontinuities. Applied examples will show how the results are implemented in Hoek-Brown failure criterion for assessing the strength and deformability of jointed rock masses
  • The use of technology in laboratory testing including Laser Diffraction Particle Sizing, use of the Rheometer to research the relationship with the Liquid Limit, use of automatic field dynamic penetrometers and the use of the Cone Penetrometer Test for understanding material properties and liquefaction potential.

The course is set-up with theoretical component as well as practical examples and a tour/explanation of laboratory testing equipment. Over the course of the day, the presenters will provide six separate sessions on the theory of laboratory testing methods with applied examples. The workshop will be closed with a tour of Coffey’s laboratory equipment where the participants can get a feel for an operating laboratory.

The course will allow for recording of CPD and lecture notes will be provide for your future reference. The course will include morning tea, standing lunch and afternoon drinks.



Alex Scheuermann was born on November 6, 1969, in Wallduern, Germany. He received his diploma degree in civil engineering specialising in geotechnical engineering in 1998, and his doctoral degree in 2005 on the topic “Transient Seepage through quasi homogeneous Dykes”, both from the University of Karlsruhe (TH), Germany. In 2012, he gained his Habilitation from the Karlsruher Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany, on the topic “Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) in Geohydraulics and Geomechanics”. Since January 2010, he is working as Senior Lecturer at the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Queensland, Australia. He was awarded in 2012 a Queensland Science Fellowship on the further development of Spatial TDR.

For more than 10 years Dr Scheuermann, with scientists from different disciplines, has been developing, modifying and applying electromagnetic measurement methods such as Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) for different problems in Geohydraulics and Geomechanics. Dr Scheuermann worked for many years as a researcher and a consultant for the government and industry on different hydraulic and mechanic problems related to water retaining structures and landfills. He was involved in the preparation of guidelines and leaflets for water retaining structures including dykes, flood mitigation reservoirs and embankment dams. He was also member of a working group of the German Geotechnical Society dealing with water balance processes of sealing systems of landfills.


Stephen Buttling is a Senior Principal Consultant at GHD and has become a well-known geotechnical engineer since his arrival in Queensland 5 years ago. He has nearly 40 years of experience, starting in UK, followed by 25 years in South East Asia, and has been specifying and interpreting CPT data for most of that time, including the mechanical cone, and electrical CPT testing in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Australia, providing technical input in the interpretation and theory and case studies.


Dr Sevda Dehkhoda is a mining engineer with special interest in rock mechanics and fracture mechanics particularly hard rock failure behaviour. Sevda has been working as a Rock Mechanics Engineer since 2005 in design consultancy and R&D industries. She has been involved in various projects in Australasia and Middle East such as hard rock excavation technologies, hard rock tunnels, hydropower dam, and open pit mining.

In 2011, Sevda completed her PhD degree at University of Queensland, on utilising Pulsed Water Jets for breaking hard rocks. Her contribution toward this work attracted investments from many industries for commercialising the technology. She was awarded ISRM (International Society of Rock Mechanics) 2014 Rocha Medal Runner up Certificate for her outstanding doctoral thesis. From 2008 to 2011, Sevda had been involved in teaching rock mechanics lab testing and rock engineering to mining students at the University of Queensland.


Graeme Duske – Manager of Specialty Testing ANZ. Graeme has over 50 years’ experience in the geotechnical testing industry. Prior to joining Coffey, he started his career in Auckland with the Ministry of Works Laboratory, as a supervisor in the Soils laboratory for an 8 year period, then joining the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Auckland, initially in Roading Research and then transferring to the Geomechanics laboratory for a 31 year period with the university.

He joined Coffey as a Laboratory Manager in Tauranga and has now moved to head Coffey Information’s Specialty Testing ANZ group, based in New Zealand. His role is to review the latest technology and equipment, rolling out to selected laboratories such up-to date and efficient equipment available in the industry. His past testing areas of interest are roading aggregate performance, dynamic testing of soils and field investigations.

Engineers Australia members participating in AGS technical sessions can record attendance on their personal CPD logs. Members should refer to Engineers Australia CPD policy for details on CPD types, requirements and auditing guidelines.