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Between rock and a hard place: soil, the ambiguous material

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Beverley Larner.

Soil Is a multiphase granular material that can behave like a frictional solid or a fluid, depending partly on its inherent character and partly on its circumstances. The science of soil mechanics has to encompass all these possibilities. But “circumstances” include the uses to which the soil is put, and this takes us from science into engineering, and specifically into geotechnical engineering. It can alternatively take us into soil science and thence into agriculture or ecology. On the boundaries between these material conditions and technological goals there are both scientific challenges to understanding soil behaviour and challenges in the selection of robust engineering solutions capable of bridging the remaining uncertainties.

Two applications will explored: the engineering of slopes to counter rain-induced flowslides, and the design of hot oil pipelines that will squirm around on the ocean floor but which must not rupture.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Philosophical Society series.

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