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Durham University

Department of Engineering

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor David Toll

Glendinning, S., Helm, P.R., Rouainia, M., Stirling, R.A., Asquith, J.D., Hughes, P.N., Toll, D.G., Clarke, D., Powrie, W., Smethurst, J., Hughes, D., Harley, R., Karim, R., Dixon, N., Crosby, C., Chambers, J., Dijkstra, T., Gunn, D., Briggs, K. & Muddle, D. (2015), Research-informed design, management and maintenance of infrastructure slopes: development of a multi-scalar approach, IOP Conference Series 26: International Symposium on Geohazards and Geomechanics (ISGG2015). Warwick, IOP Publishing, 012005.

Author(s) from Durham


The UK’s transport infrastructure is one of the most heavily used in the world. The
performance of these networks is critically dependent on the performance of cutting and
embankment slopes which make up £20B of the £60B asset value of major highway
infrastructure alone. The rail network in particular is also one of the oldest in the world: many
of these slopes are suffering high incidents of instability (increasing with time). This paper
describes the development of a fundamental understanding of earthwork material and system
behaviour, through the systematic integration of research across a range of spatial and temporal
scales. Spatially these range from microscopic studies of soil fabric, through elemental
materials behaviour to whole slope modelling and monitoring and scaling up to transport
networks. Temporally, historical and current weather event sequences are being used to
understand and model soil deterioration processes, and climate change scenarios to examine
their potential effects on slope performance in futures up to and including the 2080s. The
outputs of this research are being mapped onto the different spatial and temporal scales of
infrastructure slope asset management to inform the design of new slopes through to changing
the way in which investment is made into aging assets. The aim ultimately is to help create a
more reliable, cost effective, safer and more resilient transport system.