Civil Engineering - Theses

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    Effect of land surface heterogeneity on satellite near-surface soil moisture observations
    Panciera, Rocco. (University of Melbourne, 2009)
    This thesis develops a technique to reduce the error in near-surface soil moisture estimates from spacebome passive microwave sensors, by accounting for the heterogeneity of land surface conditions within the sensor field of view. Using experimental data collected in the course of this research, it is demonstrated that this technique will significantly reduce the error in satellite near-surface soil moisture retrieval. The technique has been developed specifically for the first dedicated passive microwave soil moisture satellite, the European Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity Mission (SMOS), which will use L-band (1.4GHz) measurements to map nearsurface soil moisture globally at a near-daily time scale. The main steps taken to develop these techniques are the first evaluation of the core radiative transfer model of the SMOS soil moisture retrieval algorithm for the Australian conditions using airborne data, and an analysis of the land surface controls on near-surface soil moisture distribution at the satellite footprint scale. These initial steps provided the tools in order to test the accuracy of the soil moisture retrieval approach proposed for SMOS at the satellite footprint scale in the presence of spatial variability of the land surface, and to develop a new retrieval approach for SMOS which overcomes the shortfalls identified in the SMOS proposed approach.
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    Addressing uncertainties associated with water accounting
    Lowe, Lisa Diane. (University of Melbourne, 2009)
    Water accounts provide information to a range of stakeholders who make decisions related to water. There are significant challenges in quantifying all of the information elements included in water accounts. Some information elements are measured while others are estimated. There is uncertainty associated with the information presented in water accounts, either due to measurement uncertainty or the assumptions made during the estimation process. The presence of uncertainties in water accounts poses two problems. Firstly, the decisions made based on information presented in the accounts may change if the associated uncertainties were disclosed. Secondly, due to the uncertainties associated with each element, the accounts rarely balance. At present the uncertainty in water accounts is not well understood and it is not systematically captured and reported in the accounts. This thesis identifies and quantifies the major sources of uncertainty in water accounts. Established techniques to quantify the uncertainties are only available for a few of the elements. A number of new techniques are developed to quantify the uncertainty associated with elements that include unmetered water use, net evaporation from storages, reservoir volumes and impacts of farm dams. A general framework to quantify uncertainties is developed and applied to a case study, the Werribee River basin (Victoria, Australia). The largest uncertainties in this catchment are associated with estimating rainfall runoff and surface water -groundwater interactions. A new method to constrain the uncertainty associated with each component of the water accounts and to create a balanced set of accounts, based on numerical data reconciliation, is presented. If the uncertainty surrounding each element is known, it is possible to improve the estimates and reduce the uncertainties by removing combinations of inflows and outflows that do not create a balanced set of accounts. Existing analytical techniques to perform the required calculations for data reconciliation are not suitable in water accounting because they assume that all uncertainties can be described using a Gaussian distribution. In order to incorporate other types of probability distributions, a numerical technique is developed. Overall, this thesis presents three new contributions: an identification of information elements which are useful to decision makers; a quantification of uncertainties associated with the elements reported in water accounts and methods are presented to quantify these uncertainties; a new numerical method, data reconciliation, to minimise the uncertainties by considering the joint probability of all inflows and outflows that create a balanced set of accounts.
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    A hybrid microsimulation model of freight transport demand
    Donnelly, Richard Ren�. (University of Melbourne, 2009)
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    Intersectoral water allocation : valuing water and the case for water property rights
    Glennie, Paul Rog�r. (University of Melbourne, 2006)
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    The structure and strength of Victorian brown coals
    Rosengren, K. J. (University of Melbourne, 1961)
    A soil mechanics investigation into the structure and strength of Victorian brown coals has been performed and the results of consolidation and triaxial tests explained in terms of a proposed model of coal structure. Brown coal possesses a porous skeleton with aggregates of planar aromatic molecules cross-linked by aliphatic chain structures. The aggregates are effectively in contact with direct chemical linking at the points of contact. However, the bonding within the aggregates is much stronger than that between aggregates and the response of brown coal to stress is dominated by the inter-aggregate contact forces. Brown coal follows an effective stress law and a Hvorslev type law, with Ce/Je approximately 0.25 and �e approximately 35�, is applicable. A frictional type shear strength law is suggested and, good agreement is found between predicted and measured tensile strengths. Consolidation behaviour closely resembles that of a clay and the distribution of moisture contents in brown coal seams is shown to be a consolidation phenomenon. Other features in common with clays are the correlation of dimensionless parameters and the existence of a critical voids ratio line.
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    Investigating the benefits of considering the payload spectra of freight vehicles on pavement costs based on weigh-in-motion data
    Ren, Jing ( 2017)
    Truck traffic is a crucial factor that contributes to pavement damage. The urbanization and globalization promote the higher level of daily consumption for goods, thus increasing the derived demand for freight transport. In some countries, such as Australia, there is a trend towards using larger vehicles, which raised the road authorities’ concern about their effect on pavement because of the lack of pavement maintenance and rehabilitation funding. Therefore, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of Australian road freight market and optimize the allocation of freight for different types of trucks to reduce the total pavement damage. Weigh-in-motion (WIM) system, which measures and records detailed vehicle information operating on road, was the data source for this study. The data was provided by the State Road Authority of Victoria (VicRoads). This thesis gave out a prototype filtering strategy for WIM database to improve the accuracy. Also, it investigated the efficiency of freight transport by comparing the effect of six-axle semi-trailers and nine-axle B-doubles with regards to pavement performance when carrying various payloads. Mathematical models were developed to help decision makers consider how to distribute the road freight task more efficiently to minimize the pavement damage induced by freight vehicles. A simplified pavement performance prediction model was utilized as a basis to determine the future pavement maintenance & rehabilitation schedules and thus, help compare the long-term pavement treatment costs for different traffic loading scenarios. The outcomes of the research showed that it would have considerable advantages in reducing the overall pavement damage by decreasing the percentage of empty trucks, changing the proportion of freight carried by B-doubles as well as optimizing the payload distributions. In addition, there would be significant benefits in the pavement maintenance & rehabilitation costs over the pavement service life by improving the allocation of freight for trucks.
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    Humans’ decision-making during emergency evacuations of crowded environments: behavioural analyses and econometric modelling perspectives
    Haghani, Milad ( 2017)
    Modelling evacuation behaviour of humans has become an increasingly important topic due to the growth of urban populations and mass gatherings as well as the increasing frequency of emergency incidents in environments that host large numbers of humans. Emergencies are relatively rare occurrences with high potential impact and safety-related implications. Thus, preparedness for them has the potential to save lives by preventing injuries during the evacuation process and accelerating the overall process and leading people to safety in the least possible amount of time. The research on this topic ultimately aims at developing predictions tools that could facilitate evacuation planning and optimisation by producing measures such as total evacuation times for each given condition. This would enable authorities and planners to evaluate the effectiveness of their evacuation policies, identify potentially problematic locations and vulnerabilities in their venues and propose measures that can accelerate the discharge of occupants should an incidents occurs in the environment. Such applications could range from simply advising occupants as to how they should conduct themselves in case of an incident, to estimating the safe occupancy rate of venues (particularly in mass gatherings and special events) and thus managing the demand accordingly, to optimising the architectural design of the environments in ways that best support the efficient discharge of occupants. The problem is interdisciplinary by nature and has attracted the attention of researchers in various fields, including ergonomics and fire safety, applied physics and mathematics, behavioural sciences and transport engineering. The problem at hand is also highly multifaceted and entails many aspects such as computational capacities and the versatility of the models. The most crucial component of such practice is arguably the accuracy of modelling that is inextricably linked with the humans’ behaviour element and how accurately it can be replicated by the models. Given the safety-related implications of evacuation models, it is of paramount importance to minimise the extent and likelihood of inaccurate estimates that could potentially culminate in misguided designs or suboptimal policies (contradicting the primary purpose for which such models are intended). Ensuring that the behaviour of evacuees in simulated practices are replicated accurately enough is, however, a highly challenging task. The modeller deals with a problem related to humans’ decision-making behaviour which is intrinsically complex, in addition to the fact that the behaviour is this context is particularly rare and is not observed on a day to day basis. This leaves modellers with a paucity of data for model development, calibration and verification purposes. Given that the human behaviour in emergencies is not yet well understood, more often than not, the modellers have resorted to formulating “intuitive” assumptions whose accuracy have yet to be scrutinised based on empirical observations. This has left a range of mysterious theoretical assumptions in this field of research largely unverified and thus subject to debate and scepticism. I argue that the empirical knowledge in this research field has lagged notably behind the theoretical advancements and model formulations, calling for more extensive empirical research in this field in order to bridge this gap. Furthermore, by analysing the existing empirical literature in this field, I argue that the research has been distributed in a relatively imbalanced way in terms of addressing various aspects of human behaviour relevant to this research area. More empirical knowledge has been acquired in relation to the aspects of behaviour that are more convenient in terms of data collection, namely the “walking behaviour” and momentary “collision avoidance” decisions of people. Whereas, higher levels of escape decision making like the directional wayfinding choices or choices of activities are in comparison far less understood. These less explored aspects of behaviour often entail a heightened cognitive load (compared to instantaneous and largely subconscious walking decisions) and pose additional levels of complexity for experimentation, data extraction and modelling. However, I argue in that gaining an accurate understanding of these aspects and developing models that can echo them adequately in the modelling process is at least as important as modelling the walking behaviour from a practical standpoint. In this study, I focused on modelling and understanding the directional (or wayfinding) choices of humans during evacuations that are often referred to as “tactical decisions”. The study is predominantly empirical. In carrying pout this study, a major underlying question was to choose the experimentation method that best suits this problem. As explained in the literature review chapter, I classified the data collection and experimentation techniques in this field to seven major categories, a number of which could be potentially used for the question in hand here. Each method offered certain advantages and disadvantages. I study the problem using two general sources of empirical observations: hypothetical-choice data and data extracted from controlled laboratory experiments with actual crowds (which I refer to as “realistic” choice experiments or often as “field-type laboratory” experiments). The hypothetical-choice data was simply gathered by generating fixed sets of directional choice scenarios, visualising them in the form of simple pictures and surveying a sample of subjects one by one. The choice scenario conceptualise trade-offs between “social factors” and “physical factors” of the environment and elicit the prioritisation of respondents between these factors. This decision trade-off was then imitated in a more realistic simulated evacuation experiment where decision makers had to interact with actual crowds in an actual confining environment for making escape decisions. Their decisions were extracted at the level of individuals using the video-analyses of the experiment footage. The choice data obtained from both contexts were structured in an identical way and were analysed using econometric choice modelling techniques. The findings of this study are two-fold, divided into behavioural findings and econometric-related findings. The analysis results provided novel insight into the escape behaviour of humans, allowing me to revisit a number of conventional theoretical assumptions and statistically test them based on empirical observations. In particular, I examined the assumption of “herding behaviour” and “social attraction and repulsion effects” deeply entrenched in the literature. The conclusion was that these assumptions did not perfectly hold true and could in least terms be regarded as overgeneralisations of complex behavioural phenomena that could affect the accuracy of our predictions. Also the disaggregate nature of our data allowed me to address in depth the question of individual differences in this context that had largely been downplayed by previous studies. The close connection established between the hypothetical and realistic choice data also provided interesting findings about how the responses that people state as to what they would do in hypothetical escape scenarios could actually materialise when they make the actual decisions in more realistic contexts. This connection led to findings that not only did offer insight into the possible relevance of the hypothetical choice methods (or virtual-reality experiments in more general terms) in this particular context (with major implications for choosing research directions for future studies in this field) but also could be of the interest of the researchers in the field of experimental economics and econometrics. The modelling practices reported in this study were performed while considering the prospect of the outcomes leading to practical applications. I intended the models reported in this study to be implementable to evacuation simulation tools. The models, as a result, were kept parsimonious and the parameters were kept fully generic. As a practical application of this study, these models were integrated with a social-force model of walking. This dual-layer model is capable of simulating crowd evacuation process in complex environments that entail the choice of direction. Given that the parameters of the directional choice model convey behavioural interpretations, the model has also the potential to provide behavioural insight into the evacuation behaviour from a system perspective (i.e. based on aggregate measures) through computer simulation and manipulation of the simulated behaviour through varying the level of these parameters. A preliminary analysis of this kind has also been reported in the thesis.
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    Seismic assessment of reinforced concrete walls in Australia
    Hoult, Ryan ( 2017)
    Some non-ductile reinforced concrete walls in buildings were observed to perform poorly in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, with most of the lives lost from the event caused by the collapse of buildings that relied on these structural elements for lateral support. Reinforced concrete (RC) walls are widely used throughout the Australian building stock as the primary lateral support elements. It is possible that some of these structural elements would perform poorly in a very rare earthquake due to the low standard of detailing that is currently required in Australia, as well as the low earthquake return period that the Building Code of Australia stipulates for their design. The aim of this research has been to assess the seismic performance of reinforced concrete structural walls, both rectangular and C-shaped, in Australia, a region of low-to-moderate seismicity. The current Australian Standard for Earthquake Actions, AS 1170.4:2007, stipulates earthquake hazard values that are based on a seismic hazard map that is over two decades old. A probabilistic seismic hazard analysis was conducted for most of the capital cities in Australia using the AUS5 model to provide a more accurate prediction of seismic hazard in Australia. The results indicate that for some cities, such as Melbourne, the response spectrum is expected to be higher for large return periods in comparison to the design spectra derived using AS 1170.4:2007. Furthermore, a site response study was conducted using equivalent linear analyses to investigate the amplification of the soil response as classified in AS 1170.4:2007 using a range of ground motions that would be expected in Australia. The primary conclusions from the study showed that there can be a large dependency of the soil amplification on the intensity of the earthquake ground motions for the softer soil classes. Moreover, the low intensity ground motions resulted in a higher spectral shape factor for soil class Be and Ce in comparison to factors derived from the current AS 1170.4:2007. An investigation was undertaken to find the displacement capacity of rectangular lightly reinforced and unconfined walls using a finite element modelling (FEM) program, with emphasis on finding the equivalent plastic hinge length. A Secondary Cracking Model (SCM) was formulated, which is a simple, mathematical model that has the potential to predict if a RC wall has a sufficient longitudinal reinforcement ratio to enable “secondary cracking” to occur. The SCM has been validated by comparison with results from the FEM analyses. Equivalent plastic hinge length equations were derived for the rectangular walls that were observed to form secondary cracking and a single, primary crack, and this can be used to predict the displacement capacity of these walls. This estimate of the displacement capacity assumes that the inelastic rotation that occurs over the inelastic region at the base of the wall can be modelled using an equivalent plastic hinge length over which the curvature is assumed to be a constant value. These estimates of the equivalent plastic hinge length are more appropriate for RC structural walls commonly found in Australia due to the parameters used in deriving them (e.g. mechanical properties of steel, longitudinal reinforcement ratio). Moreover, some expressions for the equivalent plastic hinge length that have derived by previous researchers were found to be inappropriate for the walls analysed in this research; these were particularly inaccurate for walls that do not have sufficient longitudinal reinforcement to force secondary cracks to form. The new expressions provide better estimates of the displacement capacity of lightly reinforced and unconfined walls when compared with recent experimental observations. One of the most widely used and popular cross-sections used in structural design of RC walls is the C-shaped section. There is a paucity of information available on the inelastic behaviour of such elements, and virtually no experimental data exists on non-rectangular concrete walls with inferior details commonly found in regions of low-to-moderate seismicity. An extensive number of nonlinear pushover analyses have been conducted based on FEM to investigate the seismic behaviour of C-shaped walls with detailing commonly found in Australia. Based on the FEM results, the SCM, that has been developed for rectangular walls, was found to be able to predict the potential of a single-crack forming in the walls. The direction of loading and mode of bending was found to be particularly important for the seismic performance of these walls. A non-ductile failure was observed for the majority of the walls investigated due to crushing of the unconfined concrete at the ends of the flanges in the governing direction of loading. Further analyses were conducted in the FEM program but with confined boundary ends to emphasise the importance of such structural detailing in allowing some plastic behaviour to be achieved for the governing direction of loading. The equivalent plastic hinge lengths derived from the extensive number of FEM analyses correlated poorly in comparison to the estimates from a number of expressions that exist in the literature, including a recently developed equation specifically for C-shaped walls. Therefore, equivalent plastic hinge lengths were derived from these results and for each direction of loading. A program has been written in MATLAB to derive vulnerability functions for low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise buildings in Australia that use structural walls as their lateral force-resisting system. The city of Melbourne was used as a template for conducting the analyses, and a dataset of thousands of buildings obtained from the National Exposure Information System (NEXIS) and Census of Land Use and Employment (CLUE) databases was included in the assessment. The displacement capacity of each of the buildings was estimated using a moment-curvature analysis followed by a plastic hinge analysis. A range of artificial earthquakes from GENQKE and real earthquakes from the PEER ground motion database on “weathered bedrock” conditions were obtained. These ground motions were subsequently used in equivalent linear analyses using the program SHAKE2000 to find the site response at the surface of different soil columns from shear wave velocity profiles taken predominantly from sites around Melbourne. The National Regolith Site Classification Map was used to estimate the soil conditions underlying each of the building sites. The acceleration and displacement response spectra resulting from these ground motions were used to represent the seismic demand for different site conditions in the capacity spectrum method and to ultimately estimate the vulnerability of the buildings. Thus, vulnerability functions were derived from the results.