The 54th Rankine Lecture

Over 900 people attended the 54th Rankine Lecture, one of the world’s leading geotechnical engineering lectures, which was delivered by Oxford University’s Head of the Department of Engineering Science, Professor Guy Houlsby. Amongst the audience at the British Geotechnical Association Rankine Lecture at Imperial College London were Harvey Burd, Byron Byrne and Chris Martin, all Associate Professors from this Department.

Professor Guy HoulsbyProfessor Houlsby’s lecture titled: “Interactions in Offshore Foundation Design” highlighted the difference between offshore solutions used by the oil and gas industry and those needed by wind farms. The lecture comprised three parts: the first and second were based on Professor Houlsby’s experience from the oil and gas industry and the use by this industry of jack up-units; the third part focused on foundations for offshore wind farms.

Professor Houlsby said: “Geotechnical engineers need to seek out alternative solutions to meet the foundation demands of the next generation of offshore wind farms. Screw piles could provide the solution in place of mono-piles and suction caissons as wind farms start to be developed in deeper water”.

Professor Houlsby concluded the lecture by looking at the potential screw piles offer to the offshore foundations market. He said: “They are robust and simple. However, scaling up existing screw piles by a factor of three or four presents a challenge and a contractor needs to develop the equipment to install them - essentially we need the world’s biggest screwdriver”.

The lecture commemorates WJM Rankine, Professor of Civil Engineering at Glasgow University, who was one of the first engineers in the UK to make a significant contribution to soil mechanics.  He is best known for his theory for the earth pressure on retaining walls.

In 1984, former Head of the Department of Engineering Science, Professor Peter Wroth, was the first Professor from Oxford University to give the Rankine Lecture.


Please view a video of the lecture here.