Professor Neil Dixon

BSc PhD FGS

  • Professor of Geotechnical Engineering
  • Division Lead, Civil Engineering

Research and expertise

I am a civil engineer with over 35 years of experience in geotechnical engineering research and practice. I conduct research and have published over 190 refereed publications and supervised 33 PhD students in the areas of slope failure mechanisms, in situ measurement of soil/waste properties, slope stability assessment, instrumentation development, slope process modelling, geosynthetics applications, landfill barrier design guidance and impacts of climate change studies. 

I have development the acoustic emission landslide monitoring method using Slope ALARMS sensors working with my colleague Dr Alister Smith. Our approach and sensors are being used in multiple countries including applications to help protect a railway in Canada, a flood embankment in the UK and a road tunnel in Italy. In addition, we have developed a Community Slope SAFE early warning system, which is being trialled with partners and community groups in Malaysia and Myanmar. Our research has been commercialised with RST Instruments limited who manufacture and market Geo Acoustic Aware (GAA) sensors for use in applications world-wide.

I also lead Loughborough University’s participation in the multi-partner EPSRC programme grant Assessment, Costing and enHancement of long lIfe, Long Linear assEtS(ACHILLES) investigating impacts of climate change on earthworks. I have received multiple awards for my publications and impact activities. 

Current research activity

Recently completed research projects 

  • FUTURENET: Future Resilient Transport Networks, part of the ARCC Adaption and Resilience to a Changing Climate programme (EPSRC)
  • Slope ALARMS ‘Lite’: Protecting Vulnerable Global Communities (EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account)
  • Slope ALARMS – Sensor Design Review and Extended Field Trials (EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account)
  • CLIFFS: Network on Climate Change Forecasting For Slopes (EPSRC)

See here to learn more about our work on slopes and infrastructure.

Recent publications

  • Smith, A. and Dixon, N. (2020) Listening for deterioration and failure: Towards smart geotechnical infrastructure. Proceedings of Institution of Civil Engineers, Journal Smart Infrastructure and Construction.
  • Parente, L., Chandler, J.H. and Dixon, N. (2019) Optimising the quality of an SfM‐MVS slope monitoring system using fixed cameras. The Photogrammetric Record.
  • Smith, A., Moore, I.D. and Dixon, N. (2019) Acoustic Emission Sensing of Pipe-Soil Interaction: Full-scale Pipelines Crossing a Normal Fault. ASCE Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering.
  • Smith, A. and Dixon, N. (2019) Acoustic emission generated by glass beads in compression and shearing. Granular Matter.
  • Smith, A., Heather-Smith, H.J., Dixon, N., Flint, J.A. and Pennie, D. (2019) Acoustic emission generated by granular soil-steel structure interaction. Geotechnique Letters, 10, pp. 1–9.
  • Smith, A. and Dixon, N. (2019) Acoustic emission behaviour of dense sands. Géotechnique.
  • Dixon, N., Crosby, C.J., Stirling, R., Hughes, P.N., Smethurst, J., Briggs, K., Hughes, D., Gunn, D., Hobbs, P., Loveridge, F., Glendinning, S., Dijkstra, T. and Hudson, A. (2019) Measurement of near surface saturated hydraulic conductivity in engineered clay slopes. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, 52, pp. 123–135.
  • Postill, H., Dixon, N., Fowmes, G., El-Hamalawi, A. and Take, A. (2018) Modelling Seasonal Ratcheting and Progressive Failure in Clay Slopes: A Validation. Canadian Geotechnical Journal.
  • Dixon, N., Smith, A., Flint, J.A., Khanna, R., Clark, B. and Andjelkovic, M. (2018) An acoustic emission landslide early warning system for communities in low and middle income countries. Landslides, pp. 14. 
  • Berg, B., Smith, S., Russell, S., Dixon, N., Proudfoot, D. and Take, W.A. (2017) Correlation of acoustic emissions with patterns of movement in an extremely slow moving landslide at Peace River, Alberta, Canada. Canadian Geotechnical Journal. 
  • Smith, A., Dixon, N. and Fowmes, G. (2017) Monitoring buried pipe deformation using acoustic emission: quantification of attenuation. International Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, 11(4), pp. 418-430.
  • Smith, A., Dixon, N. and Fowmes, G. (2017) Early detection of first-time slope failures using acoustic emission measurements: large-scale physical modelling. Géotechnique, 67(2), pp. 138-152.
  • Codeglia, D., Dixon, N., Fowmes, G.J. and Marcato, G. (2017) Analysis of Acoustic Emission patterns for monitoring of rock slope deformation mechanisms. Engineering Geology: Special issue on Monitoring, Physical and Numerical Modeling of Landslides and Debris Flows, 219, pp. 21-31.  
  • Postance B., Hillier, J.K., Dijkstra, T. and Dixon, N. (2017) Extending natural hazard impacts: an assessment of landslide disruptions on a national road transportation network. Environmental Research Letters, 12(1), 14010.
  • Dixon, N., Fowmes, G. and Frost, M. (2017). Global challenges, geosynthetic solutions and counting carbon. Geosynthetics International, 24(5), pp. 451-464. 
  • Postance, B., Hillier, J., Dijkstra, T.A. and Dixon, N. (2017) Comparing Threshold Definition Techniques for Rainfall Induced Landslides: A National Assessment Using Radar Rainfall. Earth Surface Exchanges In ‘Earth Surface Processes and Landforms’. DOI: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/esp.4202.
  • Fowmes, G., Dixon, N., Fu, L. and Zaharescu, C.A. (2017) Rapid Prototyping of Geosynthetic Interfaces: Investigation of Peak Strength Using Direct Shear Tests. Geotextiles and Geomembranes, 45 (6), pp. 674-687.
  • Scotland, I., Dixon, N., Frost, M.W., Fowmes, G. and Horgan, G. (2016) Modelling deformation during the construction of wrapped geogrid-reinforced structures. Geosynthetics International, 23(3), pp. 219-232. 
  • Dixon, N., Spriggs, M.P., Smith, A., Meldrum P. and Haslam, E. (2015) Quantification of reactivated landslide behaviour using acoustic emission monitoring. Landslides, 12(3), pp 549-560. 
  • Dixon, N., Smith, A., Spriggs, M., Ridley, A., Meldrum, P. and Haslam, E. (2015) Stability monitoring of a rail slope using acoustic emission. Proceedings of the ICE Geotechnical Engineering, 168(5), pp. 373–384.
  • Raja, J., Dixon, N., Fowmes, G., Frost, M.W. and Assinder, P. (2015) Obtaining reliable embodied carbon values for geosynthetics. Geosynthetics International, 22(5), pp. 393–401.
  • Dixon, N., Spriggs, M.P., Smith, A., Meldrum P. and Haslam, E. (2015) Quantification of reactivated landslide behaviour using acoustic emission monitoring. Landslides, 12(3), pp. 549-560.
  • Zamara, K.A., Dixon, N., Fowmes, G., Jones, D.R.V. and Zhang, B. (2014) Landfill side slope lining system performance: A comparison of field measurements and numerical modelling analyses. Geotextiles and Geomembranes, 42, pp. 224-235.
  • Dijkstra, T.A., Dixon, N., Crosby, C.J., Frost, M.W., Gunn, D.A., Fleming, P.R., and Wilks, J.H. (2014). Forecasting infrastructure resilience for climate change. Proceedings Institution of Civil Engineers Transport, 167(5), pp. 269-280,
  • Raja, J., Dixon, N., Fowmes, G., Frost, M.W. and Assinder, P. (2014). Comparison of carbon dioxide emissions for two landfill capping. Proceedings of the ICE - Engineering Sustainability, 167(5), pp. 197–207.
  • Smith, A. and Dixon, N. (2014) Quantification of landslide velocity from active waveguide generated acoustic emission. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 52(4), pp. 413-425.
  • Smith, A., Dixon, N., Meldrum P. and Haslam, E. (2014) Inclinometer casings retrofitted with acoustic real-time monitoring systems. Ground Engineering Magazine, pp. 24-29.
  • Smith, A., Dixon, N., Meldrum P., Haslam, E. E. and Chambers J. (2014) Acoustic emission monitoring of a soil slope: Comparisons with continuous deformation measurements. Géotechnique Letters, 4(4), pp. 255-261.

Teaching

I contribute to learning and teaching activities across the School's programmes including:

Undergraduate

  • Geotechnical engineering modules on civil engineering programmes;
  • The geotechnics component of the residential field course;
  • Integrated design project; and
  • Supervision of dissertations on topics aligned to my research interests

Postgraduate

  • Supervision of dissertations on topics aligned to my research interests

Enterprise

Current projects

See here to learn more about our work on slopes and infrastructure.

Recently completed projects

  • Intelligent system for alerting on the movement of masses - prevention of related natural disasters in Colombia (Bio Nano Consulting)
  • Slope ALARMS ‘Lite’: Protecting Vulnerable Global Communities (EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account)
  • Slope ALARMS – Sensor Design Review and Extended Field Trials (EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account)

Consultancies

  • Advisor to Heathrow Expansion project (Heathrow Airport Ltd)

Profile

Career

I graduated from Hatfield Polytechnic in 1982 with a degree in Civil Engineering. I then carried out research in Soil Mechanics at Kingston Polytechnic, and was awarded a PhD in 1987 for an investigation of 'The Mechanics of Coastal Landslides in London Clay at Warden Point, Isle of Sheppey'. This was followed by a three-year period working for Travers Morgan Consulting Engineers. This included two years as a Senior Assistant Resident Engineer on the A55 Immersed Tube Conwy Crossing, with responsibility for assessing slope stability and interpretation of extensive geotechnical instrumentation, and a period as a Geotechnical Engineer responsible for all aspects of ground investigations, and design of power station foundations. Consultancy activities have been continued to the present day, and include landfill engineering issues, slope stability assessment, specialist laboratory testing and providing expert witness evidence.

Following the period in industry, I joined Nottingham Trent University in 1989 as a Senior Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering, and subsequently held the positions of Principal Lecturer and then Reader in Geotechnical Engineering. Over a period of ten years, research interests were extended from the initial area of slope stability, to include geotechnical engineering of landfills and waste mechanics. In October 1999 I joined the Department of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough University as Senior Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering and leader of the Geotechnics Group. I became Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in June 2007 and held the roles of: Associate Dean Enterprise for the School in 2011-2014, University Research Challenge Leader for Changing Environments and Infrastructure 2014-2017 and Division lead for Civil Engineering since 2018. 

Professional affiliations

  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London
  • Graduate Member of The Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Member, British Geotechnical Association
  • Member, International Geosynthetics Society
  • Member, International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering
  • Member, International Joint Technical Committee on Landslides (JTC1)

Awards

  • Awarded Best Paper in Geosynthetics International Journal 2017
  • Awarded Institution of Civil Engineers’ Telford Premium Award for Best paper of 2014 published in Géotechnique Letters
  • Awarded Institution of Civil Engineers’ Rees Jeffreys Award for ‘Best paper of 2014 published in Proceedings Institution of Civil Engineers Transport’ 
  • Awarded Best paper in Geosynthetics International Journal in 2006
  • Awarded The Institution of Civil Engineers 2005 Reed and Mallik Medal for best paper
  • Slope ALARMS project was included in EPSRC 2006 annual report and it was again featured in the 20th Anniversary Special EPSRC Pioneer Magazine looking at highlights in the second decade 2004-2014
  • Slope ALARMS won the 2015 East Midlands Institution of Civil Engineers Merit Award for Studies and Research
  • Slope ALARMS acoustic sensor development was voted Best Commercialisation Project in the Loughborough University Enterprise Awards 2010
  • Slope ALARMS won The Engineer Magazine Technology and Innovation Award 2011 for Civil Engineering
  • The leak detection and location in plastic pipes project, a partnership between Severn Trent Water, Echologics and Loughborough University, won the Water Industry ‘Most Innovative New Technology of the Year Award’ and we also won the ‘Outstanding Innovation 2014 Award’, which was selected from winners of the 12 categories and is awarded for the most significant and innovative contribution to the UK water industry
  • My work on leak location in plastic water pipes was nominated for the Loughborough University 2015 Enterprise Awards in both the Economic Impact and International Impact categories and was highly commended in both categories
  • My work on landslide early warning for vulnerable communities ‘Community Slope SAFE’ was nominated for the Loughborough University 2017 Enterprise Award and was highly commended in the One To Watch category
  • Winner of the 1987 British Geotechnical Society Cooling Prize Competition.  This is an annual prize awarded for the best technical paper written and presented by a UK young geotechnical engineer

External activities

  • Member of EPSRC College of Peer Reviewers (2006 to present)
  • UK representative on the International Joint Technical Committee on Landslides (2014 – present)
  • Expert Panel Member, Canada Foundation for Innovation - Outcome Measurement Study, Queen’s University, Ontario, January 2010
  • Panel Member, Geotechnical Engineering, National Science Foundation, USA, May 2006
  • Editorial Board, Geotextiles and Geomembranes (2004 - present)
  • Editorial Board, Geosynthetics International (2006 - present)
  • Editorial Board, Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology (2007 - 2012)
  • Council Member, International Geosynthetics Society (Elected in word-wide ballots) (2006-2014)
  • Committee member, International Geosynthetics Society, UK Chapter (2001 – 2012), Vice-chairman (2005 – 2008), Chairman (2008 - 2010)
  • Committee member, East Midlands Geotechnical Group (1995 - 2000) and Chairman (1997 - 1998)
  • Committee member, The Institution of Civil Engineers East Midlands Local Association (1997 – 1998)
  • External Examiner, BSc in Civil Engineering, Salford University (2001 – 2005)
  • External Examiner, MEng/BEng in Civil Engineering, Coventry University (2006 – 2010)
  • External Examiner, MSc in Soil Mechanics and Environmental Geotechnics, Imperial College, London (2009 – 2013)
  • External Examiner, MSc in Geotechnical Engineering, MSc in Engineering Geology, Newcastle University (2010 – 2014)
  • Ground Engineering Awards Judge 2015-2019

Key collaborators

My research and enterprise activities are conducted with a range of academic and stakeholder partners, including:

  • Universities: Newcastle, Southampton, Durham, Leeds, Bath, Queen’s (Canada), Alberta (Canada) and Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Government organisations: British Geological Survey and CNR-IRPI (Italy)
  • Technology companies: RST Instruments Ltd, Datalink Electronics and INGLAS (Germany)
  • Consultants: Geotechnical Observations Ltd, Jacobs, Thurber Engineering (Canada) and WSP - Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Stakeholders: Network Rail, OeBB (Austrian Railway), Alberta Transportation (Canada), Scarborough Borough Council, Monmouthshire County Council, Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian National Railway; JKR (Malaysia); SlopeWatch community group (Malaysia), FHI 360 (US) and Community Care for Emergency Response and Rehabilitation (Malaysia)