Recent Advances in Vertical Drains and Vacuum Preloading for Soft Ground Stabilisation
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Much of the world's essential infrastructure is built along congested coastal belts that are composed of weak and highly compressible soils to significant depths. Soft alluvial and marine clay deposits have very low bearing capacity and excessive settlement characteristics. This has design and maintenance implications for tall structures, large commercial buildings, as well as port and transport infrastructure constructed on such poor soils. Stabilising these very soft deposits is essential before commencing construction of infrastructure. A system of vertical drains combined with vacuum pressure and surcharge preloading has become an efficient and cost effective ground improvement option. This technique accelerates consolidation by promoting rapid radial flow which decreases the excess pore pressure while increasing the effective stress. This 4th Louis Menard lecture presents an overview of the theoretical and practical developments of soft ground improvement via prefabricated vertical drains, PVD (including natural fibre drains) and vacuum preloading, with application to selected case studies in Australia.