Slow time-dependent movements caused by creep of natural geomaterials affect the performance of infrastructure and cause high maintenance and repair costs, and the partial closures of infrastructure networks during the repair work have significant economic and social impact. Although the phenomenon of creep is well-known for being a major design issue, there is currently no accepted consensus on the best way to model creep. Reliable calculation tools are either missing or - due to their scientific nature - out of reach for the engineer in charge. If as a consequence creep is underestimated in design, structures will possibly be damaged so that they will not reach their design life. On the other hand, if creep is overestimated, unnecessary countermeasures such as soil improvement, deep foundations, or additional structural reinforcement will take up additional resources. For sustainable building processes it is therefore imperative to adequately incorporate creep behaviour in analyses and design.
The research topic of this Marie Curie action is creep behaviour of geomaterials and its incorporation in geotechnical design; the project aims at establishing a consensus in creep modelling. The project shall supply tools and knowledge needed in creep analysis. Past research in the field of creep behaviour of soils has concentrated mainly on soft silts and clays. Different theoretical frameworks and numerical models were proposed. Yet, creep is likewise observed in geomaterials such as peat, sand, rock fills, and warm permafrost. Key questions formulated by industry and academia are therefore: Can existing creep concepts be adopted equally for those materials? Can different creep concepts be unified? Of the alternatives proposed, which work best at both element level and real geotechnical problem level? This project intends to answer these questions by combining the practical experience gathered by industry with the theoretical concepts worked out by academia.
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