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Laboratory testing program for SERDP project

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SERDP project laboratory testing of gravity cores, box cores, and vibracore samples from the York
River is underway. Currently, consolidation tests are being done on the clay samples to
determine consolidation properties and estimate permeability. Testing of sand samples to obtain
strength parameters are being carried out using vacuum triaxial (for testing under low confining
stresses) and direct shear (for testing under high confining stresses). The next couple of weeks
will involve deducing relationships from the analyzed laboratory data to portable free fall
penetrometer data.
by Dennis Kiptoo (PhD student)



New paper published by Cagdas Bilici

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Congratz Cagdas!

Progress on large penetrometer calibration chamber

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Our research group operates amongst other locations at the Price’s Fork Geotechnical Laboratory, an off-campus lab that previously housed a CPT calibration chamber, laboratory retaining wall, and the remnants of the many experiments that were performed there. In 2013-2014 the nation’s largest CPT calibration chamber was moved from Vicksburg, MS to our Price’s Fork Lab in pieces, and has been slowly being rebuilt. The chamber has recently undergone some work to get it back up and running, including a new and advanced pressure control unit. Also, the pump system has been fixed so that the actuator can move, the bottom plate has been bolted down, and two of the steel rings that make up the chamber have been bolted onto the foundation. The setup will remain this way for the next few months as the rings will be used for circular flume experiments to determine critical erosion parameters. Additionally, we will be reorganizing the lab the make more space for the upcoming Kentland Farms expe…

field experiment in CEE 5974 in collaboration with VDOT

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The year could not end without a last field survey, part of the field research experience in CEE5874 - Coastal and Marine Geotechnics course taught by Dr. Stark. Not deterred by the prospect of a downpour, the research team took the challenge to undertake a preliminary study of scour on the bridge piers of the VA 114 bridge crossing the New River on November 26, 2018 supported by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). As usual, the class got the opportunity to play with the best toys (Portable Free Fall Penetrometer, Chirp Sonar, Side Scan, ADCP) that were used to collect sediment information around the bridge piers of the uppermost river bed layering, river flow data, and riverbed images. The results obtained after the four hour survey were promising. The portable free fall penetrometer proved suitable to map spatial variations in sediment strength and type, the chirp sonar displayed riverbed elevation change and soil strata, the side scan sonar displayed items like cobb…

Visit to CSTARS

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Julie and Nina traveled over thanksgiving break to the University of Miami to visit the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS; https://www.cstars.miami.edu/). There they met with Hans Graber, the director of CSTARS and one of the project collaborators in our projects with ONR. In addition to discussing results from the Duck 2018 and the Yakutat 2018 field experiments, we started planning the upcoming experiment at Kentland Farms in early 2019. Stay tuned for more results. Julie & Nina


Field measurements in Sydney Harbour, Nova Scotia

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Dr. Bruce Hatcher (University Chair in Marine Ecosystem Research, Director of the Bras d'Or Institute, Associate Professor of Biology at Cape Breton University (CBU)), Hailey Shchepanik (an intern at CBU), and Samuel Consolvo (a master’s student at Virginia Tech) participated in a three-day marine survey in the NW arm of the Sydney Harbor in Nova Scotia, Canada. The harbor feeds into the North Atlantic Ocean. The purpose of this work was two-fold; firstly to conduct preliminary field research pursuant to Dr. Hatcher’s proposal entitled Measure to Offset the Effects of Benthic Habitat Loss associated with Dredging on Fishery Production in Sydney Harbor, and secondly to further Mr. Consolvo’s research project entitled Geotechnical Investigation of Bivalve-Sediment Interaction with regard to Bivalve Farms as a Self-sustained Scour Mitigation Method.

The field marine survey took place from Monday, November 19, 2018, through Wednesday, November 21, 2018 (3 days). Field instrumentation d…

Reconnaissance in response to Hurricane Michael

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Last week Matthew flew to Panama City Beach, Florida to perform reconnaissance on the damage done to Mexico Beach, Cape San Blas, and Port St. Joe caused by Hurricane Michael. Matthew’s primary task was surveying the destruction done to buildings at the three locations mentioned and catalogue them in an online data base via the Fulcrum app. Matthew also collected soil samples from the field and is looking at scour prediction models to compare with the field data. Matthew was fortunate enough to work with a great team that included Andrew Kennedy, Pat Lynett, Jim Kaihatu, Matt Jenssen, Spencer Rogers, Doug Krafft, and Margaret Owensby.


One of the many buildings reduced to the foundation slab.


The remains of the pier at Mexico Beach. Large portions of the pier were found scattered throughout Mexico Beach.



Horseshoe scour formed around a wooden pile.