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QUADRAT DTP CASE: Geotechnical Properties of Glacial Tills: Engineering and Environmental Applications

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 22, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The geotechnical properties of a substrate (e.g. grain-size, permeability, shear strength) determines how it responds to natural and anthropogenic processes. In the UK, glacial till is the most widespread surface deposit, but is hugely heterogeneous and poorly characterised in terms of physical and chemical properties. This has widespread environmental and engineering implications, for example for prediction of ground conditions, groundwater resource protection, and hazard risk management. Recent advances have recognised specific bedrock controlled till domains (Roberson and Pellicer 2017) across the island of Ireland, providing a national framework within which to undertake this project.

The primary aim will be to gather and assess physical and chemical properties of tills from geologically defined bedrock domains across Northern Ireland in order to identify linkages between bedrock and till (Davies et al 2015). The study will utilise information held by the supporting organisations, including the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) who host a repository of site investigation information in excess of 100K records. Also available through GSNI are the regional, high resolution Tellus Project soil geochemistry and radiometric datasets. Access to QUB geotechnical testing facilities will facilitate acquisition of new and bespoke data specific to bedrock till domains.

An important outcome will be to provide, for each bedrock domain, a suite of properties that allow for modelling of the engineering and environmental behaviour of till across the region. Statistical analysis and comparison of datasets will identify relationships between variables, e.g. particle size distribution and permeability (MacDonald et al 2012), and it is envisaged that further associations will be discovered at the domain and regional scales.

This project is supported by Department for the Economy (DfE) (affiliated with Geological Survey of Northern Ireland) as a CASE partner.


Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered providing they have a Distinction at Master’s level.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences
• State name of the lead supervisor as ‘Name of Proposed Supervisor’ on application
• State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding
• Select the ‘Visit Website’ to apply now

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the NERC QUADRAT-DTP and is available to UK/EU nationals who meet the UKRI eligibility criteria. Please visit View Website for more information.

The studentship provides funding for tuition fees, stipend and a research training and support grant subject to eligibility.

How good is research at Queen’s University Belfast in Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 30.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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