Geotechnical Challenges for Development in the Hunter Region (Part 1)

Arthur Love


The Newcastle Chapter of the Australian Geomechanics Society has taken over most of the next two issues of the Journal which are dedicated to the papers that are to be presented at a mini-symposium with the above title.

The topics covered are a development and expansion of the 1995 Publication “Engineering Geology of the Newcastle Gosford Region” and the 1998 Publication “Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology in the Hunter Valley”.

Since those publications the Hunter Region has seen significant changes and development of infrastructure and residential facilities. The closure of the Newcastle Steelworks now appears a minor blip in the life of Newcastle, opening up new opportunities for growth and development of the Hunter Region. The ever expanding extraction of coal has led to Newcastle becoming the largest coal port in the world.

It would appear that the northern side of the Hunter Valley has been largely ignored due to the emphasis on the extractive industries in the Sydney basin. The first paper addresses this imbalance by including an insight into the Engineering Geology of the Southern New England Fold Belt. A paper on the Karuah Bypass project that is located in SNEFB complements this overview paper.

The University of Newcastle’s collection of local data supplemented by data gathered by the NEWSYD testing facility allowed a better understanding of the Quaternary Sediments in the Newcastle Region.

Perhaps the biggest change in recent years has been associated with the continued movement of people to the coast and discovery that Newcastle is a very desirable place to live. This has placed added pressure for more intense development of marginal land particularly that affected by coal mining. Much of the City of Newcastle and surrounding regions are underlain by abandoned underground coal mine workings some dating back over 200 years to convict times. The continued stability of these workings imposes considerable constraints on surface development particularly for high rise development in Charlestown and Newcastle.

Several papers explore the various facets associated with constraints on development and many projects have overcome such constraints including such projects as the West Charlestown Bypass.

Coastal erosion has attracted public attention with boulders and rock falls affecting several prominent areas. The research associated with reactive soils has continued in association with the University of Newcastle.

The organising committee acknowledges the contributions made by the authors and the significant efforts that have been made to cover the topics of most interest to the profession.

Thanks are extended to the peer reviewers and to all the members of the organising committee particularly Chris Bozinovski and Steven Fityus who carried the lion’s share of the work.

On behalf of the AGS we would also like to thank the Principal Sponsor – Keller Ground Engineering Pty Ltd for their support of the symposium.