University Of Tasmania

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Rehabilitation of field tunnel erosion using techniques developed for construction with dispersive soils

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 19:13 authored by Marcus HardieMarcus Hardie, Cotching, W, Zund, PR
Past repairs of field tunnel erosion using mechanical treatments (deep ripping, contour furrowing, contour ripping, etc.) and reestablishment of perennial vegetation have often failed, resulting in further tunnelling. Techniques to prevent 'piping' (tunnel erosion) in earth dams constructed using sodic clays have not been used in the repair of field tunnel erosion; however, these techniques have the potential to reduce recurrent failure. Installation of an optical fibre cable in a Grey Sodosol and Grey Dermosol at a site near Dunalley, Tasmania, in November 2001, resulted in the formation of a 380-m-long tunnel erosion system. Detailed site investigations and soil analysis in 2004 indicated that the tunnel erosion resulted from the consequences of inadequate compaction during the installation of the optical fibre cable, and secondary processes such as capture of surface and subsurface flow, dispersion of sodic clays, and translocation of dispersed clay platelets through the poorly compacted fill. Repair works consisted of excavating the entire length of the tunnel system, chemical amelioration with gypsum, compaction of repacked fill to reduce internal porosity, and installation of sand blocks to capture and remove water moving along the reinstalled cable. Inspections conducted 2 years after completion of the repair works indicated the site to be stable; however, it is acknowledged that this is too short an interval to adequately assess the long-term stability of repair works and techniques employed at the site. Due to the costs associated with the application of dam construction techniques, their use for the repair of field tunnel erosion is likely to only be justified where continued erosion poses a risk of damage to high value infrastructure. © CSIRO 2007.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Soil Research










Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial systems and management not elsewhere classified

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    University Of Tasmania