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Geotechnical Engineering Research Group

The group focuses on research into the engineering behaviour of earth materials. The research is applied in mining, petroleum and any other engineering concerned with construction on or in the ground. The Geo Research Group (Geogroup) in the Department, is made up of Prof. Samuel I.K. Ampadu, Dr. Frederick Owusu-Nimo and Mr. V. K. Acquaah. However, in the implementation of research, the Geogroup is a much larger group and includes participation of other research groups and technical staff of the Soils laboratory. From outside KNUST Prof. Fred Boadu of Duke University also participates as an Adjunct Professor to the College. Currently, the Geogroup focuses on three key Research Areas. Namely;



  • Characterising and Improving the properties of Laterites and Lateritic Soils

A laterite is a highly weathered, red subsoil material rich in secondary oxides of iron and aluminium found in the tropics where high temperatures and high rainfalls accelerate the processes of weathering of the parent rock and greatly increases the contribution of chemical weathering in soil formation. The chemical processes produce oxides of the different mineral contents but the less soluble oxides of alumina and iron which remain after percolation of the soluble ones tend to coat the clay and silt fractions and also cement the soil particles together. This cementation is what makes laterites and lateritic soils unique and leads to the classification in geotechnical literature as “problematic”. The ISSMGE has recognised this special nature of laterites and lateritic soil and formed a technical committee, TC-107 with Prof. Samuel I.K. Ampadu as the Chair.

The Research Group is currently working on the appropriate laboratory testing procedures for determination of reliable index properties of laterites and lateritic soils and includes studies on improving the properties of lateritic soils through compaction and through the use of cement, lime, pozzolana as stabilising agents. It also includes investigation of the strength and compressibility characteristics of lateritic soils at low and at large strains and the effect of water.

  • Assessing the Health Risks of Heavy Metals and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

 This is a collaborative research with a multi and cross disciplinary input from Engineering, Science, Agriculture, Community Health and Sociology to assess the Health Risks of Heavy Metals and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons through Soils, Water Resources and Food Crops to inhabitants of the Immediate Environs of Suame Magazine.

Within the College of Engineering, the multi-disciplinary input will include, from Geomatic Engineering, digitizing the terrain and using GIS as a tool to model the catchment area of the study. From geological engineering the input will involve an understanding of the geology and hydrogeological modelling of ground water flow. From Water Resources Engineering, will come a modelling of the surface drainage characteristics. The GeoGroup focuses on the soils component of this collaborative research. It is investigating the effect of used motor oil on the index, engineering and the electrical properties of soils of the study area. The studies will model the changes in the electrical and other properties with increasing used motor oil contamination level.

  • Cost Effective Construction and Management of Rural Roads

Even though rural roads carry low traffic volumes and are constructed to lower technical standards, they play a vital role in the socio-economic development of rural communities. The use of lower technical standards on rural roads imply that they tend to undergo rapid deterioration and there is the need to find appropriate surfacing type that is cost effective. Between the two extremes of a conventional bituminous surfacing and the use of gravel surfacing, there is potentially a range of technologies that can be used to provide cost effective surfacing for rural roads. The Geogroup is researching into the use of otta seal surfacing for rural roads. Its work also cover management issues involved in rural  roads.