Project title: Peat slope stability and the effectiveness of mitigation measures on peatland sites in Ireland
Researchers: Eileen McCarthy, Emilia Palenius
Peat instability has proven to be a significant geohazard in Ireland for the last 15 years. Major failure events have cost millions of euros in damage and litigation. The most public examples of this are Derrybrien, Co. Galway in 2003 and Ballincollig Hill, Co. Kerry in 2008. There have been many other failure events that have not reached public media scrutiny, many of which, the lead researcher has worked on personally. Based on the lead researcher’s experience in working as a geotechnical consultant in this area for c.20 years, there are recurrent themes arising from these failures that have not been eliminated or solved by existing methodologies or guidance documents. The lead researcher proposes to undertake research in collaboration with industry in order to resolve these problems and improve standards across the board for planning and construction on peatland environments. Risk assessment methodologies used for peat stability assessment are often inconsistent. Furthermore, it is not yet clear if best ‘risk assessment’ should be Qualitative, Probabilistic or Deterministic within data limitations. Undertaking research using an existing large databank of observations, as well as undertaking empirical testing at study sites will improve scientific understanding of peat slope stability assessment, as well as inform engineering methodologies and standards for future practice.
• What is the geotechnical behaviour of peat? What are the uncertainties in understanding that behaviour? What rheological deformation model does it best approach?
• What is the best ‘risk assessment’ approach for determining slope stability in peat? Are current approaches such as Qualitative, Probabilistic and Deterministic adequate?
• What do ‘case studies’ and industry experience from the last 15-20 years show us in terms of risk assessment adequacy? Predication versus Results.
• What improvements / changes are required to provide a current best standard for industry, to serve as a benchmark for future developments on peatland sites.
• Evaluate the effectiveness of current mitigation measures commonly employed for slope stability management and evaluate their effectiveness for future planning applications.