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Oxford Engineers Win Crampton Prize for Practical Geotechnical Engineering

Award focused on research into instrumentation and monitoring during the construction of large diameter concrete caisson shafts

Anchorsholme Park Concrete Caisson

The Anchorsholme Park concrete caisson in Blackpool that was the subject of the prize-winning research

Professor Byron Byrne, Professor of Engineering Science, and collaborators Dr Brian Sheil, former Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow in the Department (now at Cambridge University), and Dr Ronan Royston, former DPhil student in the Department (now at Ward and Burke Construction Ltd), were recently honoured at the Institution of Civil Engineers, winning the Crampton Prize for the best paper published by the Institution in 2022 on practical geotechnical engineering. The Crampton Prize is awarded annually to papers of exceptional quality and benefit to civil engineering, construction and materials science.

The award focused on doctoral research carried out by Dr Royston and supervised by Professor Byrne and Dr Sheil, in partnership with the civil engineering contractor Ward and Burke Construction Ltd, with an emphasis on the instrumentation and monitoring during the construction of large diameter concrete caisson shafts. These are significant civil engineering constructions, typically of diameter 30 m and often sunk 20 m into the ground, following which they are used as underground water storage and attenuation tanks, pumping stations or as part of waste-water treatment works.

The project involved developing and installing new instrumentation systems to allow the monitoring and control of the caisson settlement and tilt during installation. Measurements were also made of the soil stresses around and below the caisson to identify how these are modified by the controlled use of polymer lubricants during construction. The research provides new understanding of the caisson-soil interaction, underpinning new methods for design and construction of these very important components of civil engineering infrastructure.

Professor Byrne commented, “This was an excellent piece of practical engineering, supported by our partners Ward and Burke, demonstrating the value of high-quality instrumentation for informing better understanding of soil-structure interaction, and providing greater certainty of the geotechnical design.”

The paper is titled “Monitoring the construction of a large-diameter caisson in sand” and can be downloaded as open access from the ICE Virtual Library.