DFI Journal - The Journal of the Deep Foundations Institute

Volume 5, Issue 1, January 2011

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Slope Stabilisation of a Section of the Thirlmere Aqueduct by the Use of Spaced Micropiles and Permeation Grouting

David Preece, BEng, MSc, CEng, MICE


The Thirlmere aqueduct was constructed over 110 years ago to provide water from the Lake District (in the north-west of England) to the city of Manchester some 60 miles (100 km) away. The aqueduct remains, to this day, a key piece of infrastructure in the distribution of raw water in the north-west of England. A short section of the aqueduct was identified as being in poor condition during routine inspections by the owner. Subsequent investigations attributed the conduit damage to the movement of unstable ground over the conduit. Bachy Soletanche Ltd was subsequently appointed to carry out the design and construction of the slope stabilisation works and to undertake repairs inside the damaged conduit. The works were undertaken on an existing slope which, in places stands at a gradient of up to 40º to the horizontal. Strict limitations on plant and equipment were imposed by the client (United Utilities) to ensure that slope and conduit loading and associated vibrations were kept to an absolute minimum during construction. An intensive instrumentation system was installed to monitor surface movements, ground movements at depth, conduit movement and strains across existing planes of weaknesses within the conduit. The solution comprised the installation of spaced piles up-slope and down-slope of the conduit. Restrictions were imposed on the minimum stand-off distance between the outside face of the conduit and the piling works so targeted permeation grouting was undertaken to improve the ‘connection’ between the conduit and the down-slope piles. The presence of existing sub conduit groundwater flows was suspected and the permeation grouting was focused in areas to minimize disruption to the groundwater regime. The paper presents the basis of the design and highlights the combined construction and instrumentation methods adopted to minimise damage to this valuable asset.

Slope stabilisation, micropiles