Alumna Dr Samy Garcia-Torres has been awarded a top prize for her doctoral thesis exploring the performance of rubble brick drains under buildings where the ground has been disturbed by earthquakes.
We were able to combine the use of recycled construction debris into earthquake drains that provide easy and affordable ways to mitigate earthquake-induced liquefaction. Samy’s research proved that such methods work very well, based on her high quality centrifuge tests carried out at the Schofield Centrifuge Centre here in Cambridge.Professor Gopal Madabhushi
Dr Garcia-Torres recently completed a PhD in Civil Engineering and is formerly of the Department’s Geotechnical and Environmental Research Group, led by Professor Gopal Madabhushi. Her paper titled Performance of drains in earthquake-induced liquefaction mitigation under new and existing buildings, which she co-authored with Professor Madabhushi, was awarded the Best Presentation Prize at the 1st International Symposium on Construction Resources for Environmentally Sustainable Technologies (CREST 2020). She received €150 from publisher Springer Nature and a certificate.
When an earthquake occurs, the motion can cause the overlying ground to sink, spread and crack. Loosely packed, water-saturated soil turns to liquid in a process known as ‘liquefaction’. The loss of shear strength means that the liquefied soil is unable to support structures that can sink/rotate. Buried pipes can also float and break.
Dr Garcia-Torres hails from Peru in South America where the probability of an earthquake occurring is very high.
“Earthquake-induced liquefaction phenomena left significant damage in southern Peru, following the Pisco earthquake in 2007,” she said. “In addition, damage due to liquefaction has been registered worldwide more recently, highlighting the relevance of developing research centred on mitigation techniques against this phenomenon. For this reason, my doctoral studies focused on the evaluation of the performance of drains below structures as a countermeasure technique against liquefaction damage.”
As part of her PhD looking at sustainable mitigation techniques, Dr Garcia-Torres visited Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, where she participated in a collaborative project called Progress 100, on the development of a soil physical model to evaluate the behaviour of vertical drains, made of rubber, as a measure to prevent damage to homes in the event of liquefaction.
Professor Madabhushi said: “Samy wanted to research on sustainable approaches that can be used in developing nations to mitigate earthquake damage to structures. We were able to combine the use of recycled construction debris into earthquake drains that provide easy and affordable ways to mitigate earthquake-induced liquefaction. Samy’s research proved that such methods work very well, based on her high quality centrifuge tests carried out at the Schofield Centrifuge Centre here in Cambridge.”
Dr Garcia-Torres is currently a consultant in geotechnical engineering in Lima, Peru, as well as a teaching assistant at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. She is planning to apply for a faculty position to teach post-graduate level students, her aim being that she will continue conducting research related to soil improvement technologies.