4th Louis Menard Lecture Down Under – Event Wrap

Menard - Soil Mixing

SYDNEY – 23 March 2018 – The 4th Louis Menard Lecture Down Under, hosted by AGS took place last week. This year, the topic: “Recent Advances in Vertical Drains and Vacuum Preloading For Soft Ground Stabilisation” was presented by Buddhima Indraratna, Distinguished Professor and Director, Centre for Geomechanics and Rail Engineering and ARC Industry Transformation Training Centre for Advanced Rail Track Technologies, University of Wollongong.

The lecture was well attended by Australian Institute of Engineers members, current civil engineering students, as well as PhD candidates. Prof Indraratna provided brief history of the deep drainage of soft soils, or what we now know as PVDs, and Louis Menard’s identification and development of the process; as well as the contributions that the University of Wollongong have made since.

He went on to the theoretical and practical developments of soft ground improvement via PVD (including natural fibre drains) and vacuum preloading, providing 16 themes, or sub areas that have been referenced back to the 1930s; as well as covering selected case studies in Australia.

Prof Indraratna also provided an update on the current Ballina Vacuum Consolidation research project which Menard contributes to, with the support of the Universities of Wollongong and Newcastle and a number of other industry partners. The project is also known as the Arc Linkage Vacuum research project. Menard has already performed some very large Vacuum Consolidation projects successfully in NSW and QLD, including The Port of Brisbane expansion Paddock S3A and S3B as well as the Ballina Pacific Highway. The aim of the trial is to specifically develop the technique for wider application. It presents tremendous benefits to deal with some of the difficult ground conditions encountered across Australia.

“The Louis Menard lecture series in Australia is always an important event for the whole Menard team. I can’t help but think of all the additional contributions and innovations Louis would have likely come up with if not for his death at such a young age. And, this years’ focus, on PVD is one close to our hearts with the Ballina trials under way,” said Phillipe Vincent, Managing Director, Menard.

The Louis Menard lecture is an initiative launched by ISSMGE in 2012 in recognition of our founder, Louis Menard’s contribution to the field of Geotechnics. It is intended to focus on innovative and technically challenging topics which will define the field of geotechnics in the years to come.


Menard Oceania maintains an exceptional 45-year history in Australia offering design and construction geotechnical experience. Providing cost effective ground improvement solutions for some of Australia’s mid-to-large infrastructure and construction projects. Its recent completion of the Pacific Highway upgrade, Optus Stadium (Perth) and Melbourne’s Webb Dock Project are Menard’s largest CMC projects in Australia.

Menard Oceania is a part of Soletanche Freyssinet, a group of world leaders in soil, structural and nuclear engineering. This relationship further strengthens Menard’s ability to manage complex integrated problems and continue as the leader and pioneer of specialist geotechnical contracting.

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