Soft soils have high compressibility and low shear strength. They include a variety of geological materials and can be found all around Europe. Sustainable development in Europe requires safe and economical design of structures constructed on soft soils an d this creates new challenges for geotechnical design. Construction on soft soils often requires utilisation of ground improvement techniques. These include preloading techniques, often combined with prefabricated vertical drains, and increasingly, various methods based on stiffening columns. The column elements can be produced either by mixing stabilising agents with the soft soil in situ (deep stabilisation), by forming columns of imported granular fill within the soft soil (stone columns) or by installin g piling elements that penetrate only partly through the soft soil deposit and do not reach a stiff soil stratum (creep piles). All these techniques offer an economical and sustainable alternative to more traditional construction techniques such as piling to a stiff soil stratum or removal of the soft soil. Most of the methods have been developed using an empirical approach and may have been adopted without full understanding of the underlying physical principles. Introduction of stiffening or modifying ele ments (i.e. columns or drains) into soft soils creates a complex soil-structure interaction problem. In addition, soft soils are complex non-linear multi-phase materials. Current design practices routinely rely on over-simplified one-dimensional methods, w hich are at best very crude and conservative (hence uneconomical), or at worst unsafe. The design would benefit from systematic numerical studies and the industry needs professionals trained to do such advanced analyses. The proposed research training netw ork on aims to develop advanced 2D and 3D numerical modelling techniques for ground improvement systems on soft soils, and train researchers in computational geotechnics.
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