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Geotechnical challenges in the extreme antarctic environment

Event organised by ICE

11 October 2022

This event has now ended

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Rothera Research Station, the largest British Antarctic facility, is a centre for biological research and a hub for supporting deep-field and air operations. As part of the new BAS Modernisation Programme a new wharf was constructed at Rothera to provide safe berthing and efficient operations for the new 129-metre long Polar Research Vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

This modernisation contract was awarded to BAM with initial design and planning commencing in 2018 to allow the first phase of construction to start in the Antarctic summer of 2019. BAM Ritchies was involved in the geotechnical aspects of the construction, including blasting to produce rockfill, rock anchoring and grouting.

In this presentation, Jim Shields, Operations Manager of BAM Ritchies, will outline the planning carried out to determine the correct drilling rig types and drilling equipment required to work in such harsh environments.

Furthermore, Jim will explain how BAM Ritchies carried out extensive grout trials, replicating the environments anticipated on site to ensure a mix design could meet the required specifications. Jim will also introduce you to the environment experienced by those on site.


Jim Shields

Jim Shields

BAM Ritchies

operations manager

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Jim Shields

Operations Manager of BAM Ritchies supporting the Ground Investigation, Laboratories, Drill & Blast and People Development parts of the business. Jim is a Trustee and Board Member of the Engineering Council, Vice Chair of the Register of Ground Engineering Professionals Panel and a committee member of the Mining Institute of Scotland. Jim has over 37 years’ experience in ground engineering as a contractor and still holds the record for the installation and testing of the largest rock anchors in the UK – the 11,100kN (ultimate load) anchors at Mullardoch Dam, Scotland.

For more information please contact:

Gordon Brown