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Scholarly biography

Dr. Stone has extensive experience in a broad range of geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering problems and is an expert in geotechnical centrifuge modelling having undertaken research projects using centrifuge facilities in the UK (Cambridge, London, and Dundee), West Germany (Ruhr University), Australia (UWA) and the USA (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (Waterways Experimental Station, Mississippi).  As a recognised expert in geotechnical centrifuge modelling, Dr Stone was invited in 2007 to join the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET) as a member of the physical modelling team investigating the performance of the New Orleans Hurricane protection system in the wake of Hurricane Katrina for which he was awarded the Commander’s Award for Public Service. 

Dr Stone has attracted funding from a range of UK and European sources including EPSRC, Royal Academy of Engineering, European Union and UK industry.  These funding streams enabled Dr Stone to establish the Brighton University Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility in 2010 which has been extensively employed in both academic and industry funded research projects. He has successfully supervised three Doctorate (PhD) research degrees and numerous MSc projects.

Dr Stone has published extensively in both peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings on research ranging from engineering in soft rock, soil index testing, seismic faulting,  foundation systems and soft-soil behaviour.

Approach to teaching

I am in the fortunate position of having both an academic and industrial/consulting background.  Prior to joining the University of Brighton I undertook academic research in Germany, Australia and America, following which I spent several years in the consulting sector working on a broad range of projects both in the UK and abroad.  The diversity of my academic and consulting experience has proved extremely useful in providing me with first hand design examples relating to the material being taught.  Consequently I try to pass on as much as is possible of this ‘experience’ in the context of the theoretical material presented in the course.


Soil mechanics involves the student getting to grips with materials which they have no prior experience of in the sense of a ‘building or construction material.  In many instances these ordinary particulate materials found in the home can illustrate the mechanical concepts of a soil or rock.  Even complex phenomena such as earthquake induced liquefaction can be related to the more familiar condition known as ‘quicksand’.  Furthermore, by ensuring that students are exposed to geotechnical material in laboratory and project work the students are able to get first-hand experience in assessing their engineering behaviour.  This is an invaluable in merging the theoretical models of soil and rock behaviour with a realistic grasp of the physical nature of the materials that are being described.

 So the essence of my approach to teaching is essentially threefold, namely;

a)  to try to actually teach ‘experience’, but as second best to make the students aware of the problems and pitfalls associated with the application of their new found knowledge,

b) to relate complex or unfamiliar concepts to everyday phenomena to illustrate their physical reality,
c) and finally to encourage students to appreciate the materials they are dealing with, (i.e. to have realistic appreciation or ‘feel’ for them). After all the materials are not abstract concepts described by a set of mathematical relationships, they actually exist. 

Research interests

My research interests are generally focussed on (i) reduced scale physical modelling, (ii) development of strength and index testing and (iii) soft rock engineering. 

Following installation and commissioning of the geotechnical centrifuge the use of the facility was focussed on investigating the time dependent behaviour of dredged marine sediments which forms a significant element of the EU funded SETARMS project.  Following this work facility has also been successfully employed in collaboration with researchers from the School of Mines in Nancy to investigate the influence of rock jointing on bulk caving.

More recently research has been undertaken on the development of novel offshore foundation systems, in particular the development of ‘hybrid’ systems which combine foundation elements such as footings and piles. Also relevant to the offshore sector has is on-going research to investigate the performance and analysis of irregular shaped footings. The offshore research area has expanded to include hybrid GBS systems and self-installing screw-fin pile systems.

Some recent research has also been undertaken (funded by Tullow Services Limited) to investigate the interaction of propagating seismic faulting on the integrity of oil well casings.  This research was won on the basis of the centrifuge modelling capability the University is now able to offer and was undertaken by a 2 year post-doctoral position.

My research in the field of soil strength and index testing stems from my involvement with the Main Roads Department of Western Australia in attempting to develop better ways to classify soil index properties.  Following this early work I designed and Patented a soil penetrometer system for the determination of soil strength and index testing of fine grained soils (Patent GB 2 297 849 B).  This area of research continues to yield useful advances and in particular a methodology to assess index properties of fine grained soils without the requirement to remove any coarse fraction.

Only a few of my more prominent research interests are described here, and research is by nature pro-active activity.  The centrifuge testing facility offers the ability to address virtually any geotechnical or geo-environmental problem as the need requires.

Education/Academic qualification

Bachelor, University College London

PhD, University of Cambridge

Master, University of Cambridge

External positions

Member of Institution of Civil Engineers

Member of British Geotechnical Association


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