Export file:


  • RIS(for EndNote,Reference Manager,ProCite)
  • BibTex
  • Text


  • Citation Only
  • Citation and Abstract

The Ballina soft soil Field Testing Facility

1 Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical Science and Engineering, School of Engineering, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus, Newcastle, 2300, Australia
2 Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, SMEC, Australia

Special Issues: Characterization and Engineering Properties of Natural Soils used for geotesting

An overview of the work done at the Ballina soft soil Field Testing Facility (NFTF), established near the town of Ballina (New South Wales, Australia) by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Geotechnical Science and Engineering (CGSE), is presented in this paper. The testing facility is aimed at carrying out fundamental research for providing solutions to problems associated with energy and transport infrastructure in Australia. Development of the field testing facility was driven by challenges with soft soil engineering at the nearby Ballina Bypass motorway project. The state road authority, the contractor and the designers helped to create the concept which was fleshed out and delivered by the CGSE. The main outcomes of comprehensive in situ and laboratory characterization studies are presented and discussed. Results of experimental studies carried out by the CGSE to assess sampling disturbance in the soft soil deposits encountered at the Ballina site are also presented. Last but not least, the paper discusses the main findings and lessons learnt from an international symposium organized by the CGSE in 2016 to assess current practice for predicting the behaviour of embankments constructed on soft soils.
  Article Metrics

Keywords soft clay; estuarine clay; Sherbrooke sampling; sampling disturbance; in situ tests; advanced laboratory testing; embankment behaviour

Citation: Jubert A. Pineda, Richard B. Kelly, Laxmi Suwal, Lachlan Bates, Scott W. Sloan. The Ballina soft soil Field Testing Facility. AIMS Geosciences, 2019, 5(3): 509-534. doi: 10.3934/geosci.2019.3.509


  • 1. Pineda JA, Suwal L, Kelly RB, et al. (2016a) Characterization of the Ballina clay. Geotechnique 66: 556–577.
  • 2. Kelly RB, Pineda JA, Bates L, et al. (2017) Site Characterisation for the Ballina Field Testing Facility. Géotechnique 67: 279–300.    
  • 3. Pineda JA, Liu XF, Sloan SW (2016b) Effects of tube sampling in soft clay: a microstructural insight. Geotechnique 66: 969–983.
  • 4. Kelly RB, Sloan SW, Pineda JA, et al. (2018a) Outcomes of the Newcastle symposium for the prediction of embankment behaviour on soft soil. Comput Geotech 93: 9–41
  • 5. Loughnan FC (1969) Chemical weathering of the silicate minerals. Elsevier, New York.
  • 6. Bishop DT (2004) A proposed geological model and geotechnical properties of a NSW estuarine valley: a case study, In: Proc. 9th ANZ conference, Auckland: Australian Geomechanics Society Press, 261–267.
  • 7. Bishop DT, Fityus S (2006) The sensitivity framework: Behaviour of Richmond River estuarine clays, In: Australian Geomechanics Chapter, Sydney Chapter Mini-symposium: Australian Geomechanics Society Press, 167–178.
  • 8. Delage P, Pellerin M (1984) Influence de la lyophilisation sur la structure d'una argile sensible du Quebec. Clay Miner 19: 151–160.    
  • 9. Li J, Cassidy MJ, Huang J, et al. (2016) Probabilistic identification of soil stratification. Geotechnique 66: 16–26.    
  • 10. Burland JB (1990) On the compressibility and shear strength of natural clays. Geotechnique 40: 329–378.    
  • 11. Wood DM (1990) Soil behaviour and critical strate soil mechanics. Cambridge University Press.
  • 12. Becker DE, Crooks JHA, Ben K, et al. (1987) Work as a criterion for determining in situ and yield stresses in clays. Can Geotech J 24: 549–564.    
  • 13. Mesri G, Godlewski PM (1977) Time–stress-compressibility interrelationship. J Geotech Geoenvironmental Eng 103: 417–430.
  • 14. Watabe Y, Udaka K, Nakatani Y, et al. (2012) Long-term consolidation behaviour interpreted with isotache concept for worldwide clays. Soils Found 52: 449–464.    
  • 15. Viggiani G, Atkinson JH (1995) Interpretation of bender elements test. Geotechnique 45: 149–154.    
  • 16. Jovicic V, Coop MR, Simic M (1996) Objective criteria for determining G max from bender elements tests. Geotechnique 46: 357–362.    
  • 17. Teh CI, Houlsby GT (1991) An analytical study of the cone penetration test in clay. Geotechnique 41: 17–34    
  • 18. Leroueil S, Magnan JP, Tavenas F (1990) Embankments on soft clays, Series in Civil Engineering. Chichester, UK: Ellis Horwood.
  • 19. Terzaghi K, Peck RB, Mesri G (1996) Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice, 3rd eds. New York, NY, USA: Wiley.
  • 20. Kelly RB, Pineda JA, Bates L, et al. (2018b) Site Characterisation for the Ballina Field Testing Facility. Géotechnique 68: 459–462.
  • 21. Won JY (2013) Anisotropic strength ratio and plasticity index of natural clays, Proceedings 18th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, Paris, France, 445–448.
  • 22. Lunne T, Berre T, Strandvik S (1997) Sample disturbance effects in soft low plasticity Norwegian clay, Symposium on Recent Developments in Soil and Pavement Mechanics, Rio de Janeiro, Balkema, Rotterdam, 81–92.
  • 23. Delage P, Lefebvre G (1984) Study of the structure of a sensitive Champlain clay and of its evolution during consolidation. Can Geotech J 21: 21–35.    
  • 24. Hight D, Leroueil S (2003) Characterization of soils for engineering purposes. Charact Eng Prop Nat Soils 1: 255–362.
  • 25. Lim GT, Pineda J, Boukpeti N, et al. (2019) Effects of sampling disturbance in geotechnical design. Can Geotech J 56: 275–289.    
  • 26. Kelly RB (2014) Design and construction of a resilient motorway on difficult ground, Proceedings Australian Geomechanics Society, Sydney Chapter Symposium, Australia, 37–45.
  • 27. Doherty JP, Gourvenec S, Gaone FM, et al. (2018) A novel web based application for storing, managing and sharing geotechnical data, illustrated using the national soft soil field testing facility in Ballina, Australia. Comput Geotech 93: 3–8.    


Reader Comments

your name: *   your email: *  

© 2019 the Author(s), licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

Download full text in PDF

Export Citation

Copyright © AIMS Press All Rights Reserved