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The John Mitchell Lecture 2022: Thinking conceptually about groundwater problems

Event organised by ICE

18 January 2022
17:00 - 18:30 GMT

This event has now ended

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Many excavations and tunnels experience problems and instability caused by uncontrolled groundwater inflows or pressures. Groundwater control measures are used to overcome these problems and create stable and workably dry conditions below groundwater level.

A key challenge for designers is that the performance of the various techniques is strongly influenced by the hydrogeological conditions at a site. Furthermore, the available ground investigation data may have gaps or be subject to considerable uncertainty regarding key parameters such as permeability or hydraulic boundary conditions. This means that there are some groundwater problems where analysis involves so many assumptions and uncertainties that the design outcomes are of little practical value.

This lecture will discuss how thinking conceptually about groundwater problems can be of great benefit when developing of groundwater control schemes, and that a robust conceptual model helps reduce the risk of designs being developed using inappropriate techniques. Examples will be given of cases where conceptual understanding of groundwater conditions proved vital in developing practical engineering solutions.


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16:45 Registration – 30 min
17:00 Chair’s introduction – 5 min
17:05 Presentation – 45 min
17:50 Q&A session – 30 min
18:20 Closing remarks – 5 min
18:25 Event close

Recorded Lecture


Dr Martin Preene

Dr Martin Preene

Preene Groundwater Consulting


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Dr Martin Preene

Dr Martin Preene is a civil engineer with 35 years’ experience of dewatering and groundwater control with contractors and consultants worldwide and has worked extensively on major tunnel projects in the construction and mining sectors. He widely published in the field of groundwater engineering and is the lead author of the CIRIA Report C750, the UK industry guidance on groundwater control and dewatering, and the author of the textbook Groundwater Lowering in Construction, now in its 3rd edition.