South Australia & NT Chapter

The Maryland Reactive Soil Field Site

Dr. Stephen Fityus

Dr Stephen Fityus is a lecturer in geotechnical engineering at the University of Newcastle. He has a background in engineering geology and geotechnical engineering, from undergraduate studies in engineering and geology at the University of Newcastle. He worked for 4 years, mostly in the local geotechnical industry, before returning to the University of Newcastle to undertake his PhD on the topic of unsaturated soils, in which reactive soil behaviour featured prominently. He has been associated with the Maryland reactive soil project since its inception, and continues to pursue research in this area.

The Maryland reactive soils field site was established in 1993 to provide a wide variety of quantitative field data on reactive clay soil effects in the Newcastle region. The field site, located in an area which has been zoned for future residential development, lies within an urban development corridor which is dominated by moderately and highly reactive clay foundation conditions. The site includes a flexible ground cover, to simulate the moisture barrier effects of a 10m by 10m Class M slab; a loaded 10m by 10m class M reinforced concrete slab; and a variety of instrumentation to monitor moisture and suction changes.

The site has been monitored on a semi-regular basis since its establishment. Stephen discussed the geotechnical and geological characteristics of the site; the adequacy of the ground movement prediction method described by AS2870; the time taken for the moisture conditions beneath the covered areas to stabilise, and the equilibrium moisture distributions.

This meeting was a joint initiative between the Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS), Footings Group and the University of South Australia.

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.