Development of sounding equipment for the assessment of the time- settlement characteristics of recent alluvial deposits when subjected to embankment loads.
The whole of this thesis is my work unless specifically indicated to the contrary in the text, and has not been submitted in part or in whole to any other University. Some thirty years ago the author operated a deep sounding machine, one of the first in the country, on a misty lake in Ireland and marvelled at the way subsoil information could be garnered. The magic of the moment never entirely passed and when the opportunity arose to use the technique in Natal the die was cast. The development of the national road system surged in the early 1970's and since many of these roads on the Natal coastal routes crossed extensive recent alluvial deposits, the geotechnical problems of instability and settlement became major factors in the road design. Traditional methods of investigation consisted of boreholes with sampling and laboratory testing. Whilst these were satisfactory, provided they were of adequate quality, they were relatively expensive if sufficiently detailed models of the subsoil were to be obtained for design purposes. Cone penetration testing provided a potential a solution and this led to research work conducted over a period of twenty five years which continues today. The initial development of ideas for improvements to the mechanical equipment took place whilst the author was carrying out preliminary investigations for freeway routes over the coastal alluvial deposits. This was followed by a period devoted largely to cone penetration testing research and deVelopment and to embankment design methods at the National Institute for Transport and Road Research, and to the initial registration for a Master's degree under the supervision of Professor K Knight in 1975. This research programme was completed as originally envisaged, but not submitted because during its course the author conceived the idea of the piezometer cone. This proved to be such an exciting prospect that the research and development continued for a number of years until piezometer cone testing has now become almost routine for geotechnical investigations on alluvial deposits. In 1983, due to Professor Knight's retirement from the University, Mr Phillip Everitt was appointed as the supervisor. At that stage piezometer testing was becoming accepted internationally and new aspects and information frequently appeared. It was apparent, however, that the essential proof of the system for the prediction of embankment performance was to use it at embankments where the performance had been monitored. Eventually grants were provided by the Department of Transport for this, which enabled two research projects to be conducted during 1989 - 1990 and 1991 - 1992. After completion of the first of these a presentation of the author's work on cone penetration testing since the mid 1960's was made to the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Natal. The Executive Committee of the University Senate subsequently approved, in August 1991, that the registration be upgraded to doctoral status. Mr Everitt's encouragement during this extended period has been a vital factor in ensuring an outcome for this task and the author wishes to express his gratitude for this.