martedì 18 settembre 2018

2. What is "Safe-Earth"?

Welcome back to my blog!

Today I would like to tell you more information about my project which I am currently working on.

In Ireland and the UK, much of their infrastructure networks, like cuttings and embankments, were constructed many centuries ago prior to modern engineering standards. Earthworks were commonly constructed using local materials, which may not have been the best choice in terms of engineering parameters but were, of course, economically convenient at that time. Consequently, many of these assets are at risk of failure.

Example of cutting failure
Example of embankment failure
Continuous maintenance of the existing slopes along transportation networks is essential. However, it can be very costly for infrastructure owners. For example, it has been estimated that the cost of maintenance for embankments alone in the UK for the year 1998/99 was around £50 million. However, the cost of emergency repairs, in case of failure, is approximately ten times greater than the cost of planned maintenance works. Consequently, the ability to accurately assess the risk for earthworks along transport infrastructure networks is imperative.

risk for the users caused by a failure
Last but not least, sudden failures involving transport infrastructure can be extremely dangerous for the users. The factor of safety is used to describe the stability of a slope. There are many definitions of the factor of safety but in general terms they all involve the shear strength of the soil and the shear stress that is required for equilibrium. This ratio must be major than the unit value in order to guarantee the safety of the slope.

Nowadays, stability of slopes is an increasingly common problem, due to the recent extreme climate changes. Weather forecasts show that both monthly minimum and maximum temperature are constantly increasing and, in terms of rainfalls, we expect rainfalls of shorter duration but more intense, more violent. This may lead to fast changes in the physical parameters in the terrain, such as water content, infiltration capacity, soil permeability, suction etc., can produce sudden and dangerous failures. In particular, the most recent studies agree about the thesis that failure would be caused by the loss of contribution of the matric suction or, which is the same, in pore pressure. 

Pore water pressure for present and future climate scenarios
This graph shows how in the future climate we expect a general decrease of contribution of the matric suction, and in particular in correspondence of the autumn/winter seasons, which will expose at even higher risks slopes.
Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions (GDG), in collaboration with NetworkRail, is currently collecting field data, provided by many sensors installed in situ, such as inclinometers, piezometers etc. Those data will be matched with rainfall data and, with the help of probabilistic numerical modelling, reliability of slopes will be determined.

Sensors installed on earthworks

Irish Rail commissioned Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions to develop a risk model and decision support tool for Irish Rail cutting and embankment assets. The aim of the tool is to determine the relative risk for each of the cutting/embankment assets across the network. Using these values, assets can be ranked, thus enabling the identification of the most critical earthworks before the failure (slope instability/landslide) occurs. This will aid management decisions in prioritization of maintenance and remediation budgets. Additional functionalities of the tool include scenario analysis and cost-benefit analysis (CBA) that rely on the original risk model. 

C&D Decision Support Tool

Hence, the objective is to continue towards this direction, developing more advanced methods to evaluate the safety of earthworks (cuttings & embankments) along transport networks. The achievement is to create a model which will function as an advanced warning system, providing support to transport infrastructure managers who are faced with an increasing number of failures associated with climate change effects. Overall, the project will contribute towards more reliable assessment and management methods for cutting and embankments, in order to increase the resilience of transportation network.

It is all for today!
I hope it is clear enough and, as usual, any comment will be welcome!

Thank you for reading,
Chat to you soon!


venerdì 14 settembre 2018

1. A little bit of Nino

Hi! Welcome to my blog!

I have to admit that the expression "my blog" sounds quite weird to me, since I am not a blogger and I am totally new to this kind of communication. So, I cannot promise it will be a success but I will try my best! 

Having said that, I will start by presenting myself and giving you recent information about my most life (the whole life would be very long, since I am one of the oldest fellows in this group😕) and my studies, in order to get to know better (this means any comments to this post are welcome, I am very interested to know your life and work experiences).

Let's start! My name is Antonino, known as "Nino" since I was born. Why? Good question. I don't know. Probably because the second one sounds shorter, easier and funnier. Or probably beacuse calling someone tall almost 2 meters in a way that sounds like "little Antonio" is kind of awkward. Nevertheless, somebody in my hometown loves to call me "Ninuzzo", which means "little Nino" again! No way...moreover I think I was not born very tall, so I don't really know!  Anyway, now I am Nino and Nino is me, it is a perfect binomial, it could not have been in a different way.

People which calls me Ninuzzo lives in Valledolmo, a mountainous and sunny village located in the heart of Sicily. Agriculture is particularly prosperous in my hometown, thanks to the peculiar characteristics of soil and climate. Mother Nature has given to us such a big donation and we have always known how to exploit it in the best way. Nowadays, Valledolmo is an important centre for healthy and bio-food production entirely coming from raw materials of our territory: pasta, oil, tomato sauce, cheeses are just examples. Even if I have moved to different cities, I have not changed my habits: anywhere I have always enough homemade provisions!

Image result for GRANADAI am a Civil Engineer and I studied at University of Palermo, where first I got my Bachelor Engineering and then my Master Engineering in 2016. Almost at the end of my studies, I had the opportunity to live one of the most beautiful experiences in my life: the ERASMUS. It was an incredible experience, in terms of mixture of languages, cultures, people, friends, growth, fun! Thanks to this experience now I have friends everywhere around the world! I really recommend it to everyone. Definitively it changed my mind, my points of life (you will discover why)! In addition, if you are so lucky to get your Erasmus in Granada...everything is much more magic!

Later I moved to Bergamo, where I got my first work a teacher, a young teacher for young pupils. The location and the colleagues were amazing, but -mostly- the pupils. We had an unexpected relationship which left amazing memories. Of course, now they are my best and careful followers on Instagram😅! I am very happy to see our relationship still going on and how they keep me updated about their lives and choices. I hope, one day, to have another great experience like this!

On May last year, while working in Bergamo (and my Erasmus experience looked like a remote memory), I received a call from Giulia, a special friend, one of those I met during my studies in Granada. -Anto, why don't you apply for an European PhD? It is called SMARTI project, visit the website, the deadline is in 3 days!. -Giulia, It's a PhD, serious stuff, I need reference letters, an English CV, everything in 3 impossible! And, Giulia, you know, little detail, I DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH!! Well, a month later I was flying towards Dublin and starting a super-super-super[...]intensive English course. After one month, exactly one year ago, I started this great experience with several challenges, obstacles, difficulties. Now here I am, living, writing and working in an English environment and...enjoying an additional opportunity that life reserved for me!

Chat to you soon!