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21 October 2009 | PR 09/144

Loughborough University develops landslide technology with British Geological Survey

Engineers at Loughborough University have received further funding to investigate the development of an innovative early-warning sensor for the detection of landslides, in collaboration with scientists at the British Geological Survey (BGS).

The one-year project, which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, is being led by Dr Neil Dixon, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering. He is working with Dr Matthew Spriggs from Loughborough University, along with Richard Ogilvy and Philip Meldrum, from the BGS.

The research is a follow on from The Acoustic Real-Time Monitoring System (ALARMS) project, which ran from November 2005 – May 2009, which developed and investigated the performance of a rigorous practical early warning system for slopes.

“Thousands of people worldwide are killed each year due to slope failures,” said Dr Dixon.

“As well as the human cost in developing countries, where landslides can be caused by acts of nature including earthquakes and severe rainfall, there are also potential economic costs in developed countries, with a device such as this enabling timely maintenance of critical infra-structure.”

“Loughborough University, in partnership with the British Geological Survey, is investigating producing a low cost acoustic sensor which we hope will serve the needs of a range of markets.”

“Current devices available for the early detection of slope failures are costly and technically limited and we feel that the production of a sensor which is affordable for a wide range of users could save hundreds of lives.”

The device gauges the stability of slopes by using a sensor which is able to pick up the high frequency sounds that come from soil particles moving underground.

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Notes for editors:

  • The British Geological Survey
    The British Geological Survey (BGS), a component body of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), is the nation’s principal supplier of objective, impartial and up-to-date geological expertise and information for decision making for governmental, commercial and individual users. The BGS maintains and develops the nation’s understanding of its geology to improve policy making, enhance national wealth and reduce risk. It also collaborates with the national and international scientific community in carrying out research in strategic areas, including energy and natural resources, our vulnerability to environmental change and hazards, and our general knowledge of the Earth system. More about the BGS can be found at www.bgs.ac.uk.

  • Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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