Excellence in Research and Innovation for Humanity

International Science Index

Commenced in January 1999 Frequency: Monthly Edition: International Paper Count: 8

Environmental, Chemical, Ecological, Geological and Geophysical Engineering

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  • 8
    Impact of Coal Mining on River Sediment Quality in the Sydney Basin, Australia
    The environmental impacts arising from mining activities affect the air, water, and soil quality. Impacts may result in unexpected and adverse environmental outcomes. This study reports on the impact of coal production on sediment in Sydney region of Australia. The sediment samples upstream and downstream from the discharge points from three mines were taken, and 80 parameters were tested. The results were assessed against sediment quality based on presence of metals. The study revealed the increment of metal content in the sediment downstream of the reference locations. In many cases, the sediment was above the Australia and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council and international sediment quality guidelines value (SQGV). The major outliers to the guidelines were nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn).
    A Simple and Empirical Refraction Correction Method for UAV-Based Shallow-Water Photogrammetry
    The aerial photogrammetry of shallow water bottoms has the potential to be an efficient high-resolution survey technique for shallow water topography, thanks to the advent of convenient UAV and automatic image processing techniques Structure-from-Motion (SfM) and Multi-View Stereo (MVS)). However, it suffers from the systematic overestimation of the bottom elevation, due to the light refraction at the air-water interface. In this study, we present an empirical method to correct for the effect of refraction after the usual SfM-MVS processing, using common software. The presented method utilizes the empirical relation between the measured true depth and the estimated apparent depth to generate an empirical correction factor. Furthermore, this correction factor was utilized to convert the apparent water depth into a refraction-corrected (real-scale) water depth. To examine its effectiveness, we applied the method to two river sites, and compared the RMS errors in the corrected bottom elevations with those obtained by three existing methods. The result shows that the presented method is more effective than the two existing methods: The method without applying correction factor and the method utilizes the refractive index of water (1.34) as correction factor. In comparison with the remaining existing method, which used the additive terms (offset) after calculating correction factor, the presented method performs well in Site 2 and worse in Site 1. However, we found this linear regression method to be unstable when the training data used for calibration are limited. It also suffers from a large negative bias in the correction factor when the apparent water depth estimated is affected by noise, according to our numerical experiment. Overall, the good accuracy of refraction correction method depends on various factors such as the locations, image acquisition, and GPS measurement conditions. The most effective method can be selected by using statistical selection (e.g. leave-one-out cross validation).
    Understanding Integrated Removal of Heavy Metals, Organic Matter and Nitrogen in a Constructed Wetland System Receiving Simulated Landfill Leachate

    This study investigated the integrated removal of heavy metals, organic matter and nitrogen from landfill leachate using a novel laboratory scale constructed wetland system. The main objectives of this study were: (i) to assess the overall effectiveness of the constructed wetland system for treating landfill leachate; (ii) to examine the interactions and impact of key leachate constituents (heavy metals, organic matter and nitrogen) on the overall removal dynamics and efficiency. The constructed wetland system consisted of four stages operated in tidal flow and anoxic conditions. Results obtained from 215 days of operation have demonstrated extraordinary heavy metals removal up to 100%. Analysis of the physico- chemical data reveal that the controlling factors for metals removal were the anoxic condition and the use of the novel media (dewatered ferric sludge which is a by-product of drinking water treatment process) as the main substrate in the constructed wetland system. Results show that the use of the ferric sludge enhanced heavy metals removal and brought more flexibility to simultaneous nitrification and denitrification which occurs within the microbial flocs. Furthermore, COD and NH4-N were effectively removed in the system and this coincided with enhanced aeration in the 2nd and 3rd stages of the constructed wetland system. Overall, the results demonstrated that the ferric dewatered sludge constructed wetland system would be an effective solution for integrated removal of pollutants from landfill leachates.

    Numerical Modelling of Shear Zone and Its Implications on Slope Instability at Letšeng Diamond Open Pit Mine, Lesotho

    Rock mass damage due to shear tectonic activity has been investigated largely in geoscience where fluid transport is of major interest. However, little has been studied on the effect of shear zones on rock mass behavior and its impact on stability of rock slopes. At Letšeng Diamonds open pit mine in Lesotho, the shear zone composed of sheared kimberlite material, calcite and altered basalt is forming part of the haul ramp into the main pit cut 3. The alarming rate at which the shear zone is deteriorating has triggered concerns about both local and global stability of pit the walls. This study presents the numerical modelling of the open pit slope affected by shear zone at Letšeng Diamond Mine (LDM). Analysis of the slope involved development of the slope model by using a two-dimensional finite element code RS2. Interfaces between shear zone and host rock were represented by special joint elements incorporated in the finite element code. The analysis of structural geological mapping data provided a good platform to understand the joint network. Major joints including shear zone were incorporated into the model for simulation. This approach proved successful by demonstrating that continuum modelling can be used to evaluate evolution of stresses, strain, plastic yielding and failure mechanisms that are consistent with field observations. Structural control due to geological shear zone structure proved to be important in its location, size and orientation. Furthermore, the model analyzed slope deformation and sliding possibility along shear zone interfaces. This type of approach can predict shear zone deformation and failure mechanism, hence mitigation strategies can be deployed for safety of human lives and property within mine pits.

    Potential Climate Change Impacts on the Hydrological System of the Harvey River Catchment

    Climate change is likely to impact the Australian continent by changing the trends of rainfall, increasing temperature, and affecting the accessibility of water quantity and quality. This study investigates the possible impacts of future climate change on the hydrological system of the Harvey River catchment in Western Australia by using the conceptual modelling approach (HBV mode). Daily observations of rainfall and temperature and the long-term monthly mean potential evapotranspiration, from six weather stations, were available for the period (1961-2015). The observed streamflow data at Clifton Park gauging station for 33 years (1983-2015) in line with the observed climate variables were used to run, calibrate and validate the HBV-model prior to the simulation process. The calibrated model was then forced with the downscaled future climate signals from a multi-model ensemble of fifteen GCMs of the CMIP3 model under three emission scenarios (A2, A1B and B1) to simulate the future runoff at the catchment outlet. Two periods were selected to represent the future climate conditions including the mid (2046-2065) and late (2080-2099) of the 21st century. A control run, with the reference climate period (1981-2000), was used to represent the current climate status. The modelling outcomes show an evident reduction in the mean annual streamflow during the mid of this century particularly for the A1B scenario relative to the control run. Toward the end of the century, all scenarios show a relatively high reduction trends in the mean annual streamflow, especially the A1B scenario, compared to the control run. The decline in the mean annual streamflow ranged between 4-15% during the mid of the current century and 9-42% by the end of the century.

    Ground Response Analyses in Budapest Based on Site Investigations and Laboratory Measurements

    Near-surface loose sediments and local ground conditions in general have a major influence on seismic response of structures. It is a difficult task to model ground behavior in seismic soil-structure-foundation interaction problems, fully account for them in seismic design of structures, or even properly consider them in seismic hazard assessment. In this study, we focused on applying seismic soil investigation methods, used for determining soil stiffness and damping properties, to response analysis used in seismic design. A site in Budapest, Hungary was investigated using Multichannel Analysis of Surface Waves, Seismic Cone Penetration Tests, Bender Elements, Resonant Column and Torsional Shear tests. Our aim was to compare the results of the different test methods and use the resulting soil properties for 1D ground response analysis. Often in practice, there are little-to no data available on dynamic soil properties and estimated parameters are used for design. Therefore, a comparison is made between results based on estimated parameters and those based on detailed investigations. Ground response results are also compared to Eurocode 8 design spectra.

    Effect of Horizontal Joint Reinforcement on Shear Behaviour of RC Knee Connections

    To investigate seismic performance of beam-column knee joints, four full-scale reinforced concrete beam-column knee joints, which were fabricated to simulate those in as-built RC frame buildings designed to ACI 318-14 and ACI-ASCE 352R-02, were tested under reversed cyclic loading. In the experimental programme, particular emphasis was given to the effect of horizontal reinforcement (in format of inverted U-shape bars) on the shear strength and ductility capacity of knee joints. Test results are compared with those predicted by four seismic design codes, including ACI 318-14, EC8, NZS3101 and GB50010. It is seen that the current design codes of practice cannot accurately predict the shear strength of seismically designed knee joints.

    A Content Analysis of Sustainability Reporting to Frame the Heterogeneity in Corporate Environment Sustainability Practices
    While extant research has examined many aspects of differential corporate environmental outcomes and behavior, a holistic and integrated view of heterogeneity in corporate environment sustainability (CES) practices remains a puzzle to be fully unraveled – its extent and nature, its relationship to macro or micro level influences, or strategic orientations. Such a perspective would be meaningful for the field given notable strides in CES practices and the corporate social responsibility agenda over the last two decades, in the backdrop of altered global socio-political sensitivities and technological advances. To partly address this gap, this exploratory research adopted a content analysis approach to code patterns in the sustainability disclosures of the 160 largest global firms spread over 8 years. The sample of firms spanned seven industries, nine countries and three continents thereby presenting data rich and diverse enough in several dimensions to be representative of global heterogeneity in CES practices. Through a factor analysis of the coded data, four strategic CES orientations were extracted through the analysis, that effectively straddles most of the variation observed in current CES practices – one that seeks to reduce environmental damage on account of the firm’s operations, another that prioritizes minimalism, a third that focuses on broader ecological status quo, and a final one that champions the ‘business of green’, extending the CES agenda beyond the firm’s boundaries. These environment sustainability strategy orientations are further examined to elicit prominent patterns and explore plausible antecedents.