The "Excavation and safety engineering" area develops studies and research aimed at the performance of excavations, in both open-pit and underground, in different types of materials, from soft ground to strong rocks, aimed at the construction of tunnels and other infrastructure, and for the exploitation of raw materials from mines and quarries, as well as for environmental rehabilitation, paying attention to the organization of construction sites in compliance with the safety and healthiness of the working environment.

The approach to research is highly interdisciplinary, involving various skills related to the study of rocks, soils and land surveying; the investigation techniques undertake experimental studies in the laboratory, on site and theoretical and numerical modelling. The research projects are financed both by public institutions and by private companies. Researchers belonging to the sector regularly publish scientific papers in prestigious international journals; some of them are involved as patent inventors and many of them have positions of primary importance in national and international cultural associations.

The main research topics are listed below (in brackets, the personnel involved in alphabetic order:

Tunnels and underground works (Cardu, Martinelli, Oggeri, Oreste, Peila): it mainly deals with excavation techniques and technologies with civil purposes, support techniques and technologies, reinforcements and pre-supports, rock excavation by Drill & Blast, maintenance of underground works, strategic planning for underground exploitation, numerical modelling of underground stopes, new computation techniques to solve static problems of underground works. As part of the activities related to tunnelling, the sector staff is managing a II Level Post-Graduate Master: “Tunnelling and Tunnel Boring Machines”;

Safety (Clerico, Oreste): it mainly deals with health and safety at work (H&S), in addition to environmental safety; within the scope of the health and safety area, topics related to the diffusion and the control of the noise, presence of dust particles in the air, evaluation of occupational safety risks, analysis of the incidentality in the workspaces, geotechnical risks in the excavation and construction activities in civil and mining sectors are faced; within the scope of the environmental safety area, topics related to the evaluation of noise pollution and presence of fine airborne particles are faced;

Mining activities - quarries and mines (Cardu, Martinelli, Oggeri, Oreste, Peila): it mainly deals with excavation techniques and technologies with exploitation purposes, excavation by Drill & Blast, mechanical excavation of rocks and soft ground, equipment for rock excavation and earthmoving, cutting/splitting techniques for the extraction of dimension stones, demolition techniques with and without explosive, exploitation methods and selection of the most suitable equipment, stability analysis of underground mining stopes and voids and excavation faces; strategic design of underground and open-pit exploitation with related equipment, mining plants, reuse and stability of the exploitation stopes. As part of the activities related to mining, the sector staff is managing a Post-Graduate Master: “Mining Engineering applied to ornamental stone quarries”.

Applied Geomechanics (Cardu, Deangeli, Martinelli, Oggeri, Oreste, Peila): it mainly deals with the mechanical behaviour of geo-materials, geomechanical monitoring, slope stability, also with reference to climate change, rock fall, experimental tests for geomechanical characterization of rocks and soils at different scales, numerical modelling, consolidation and support of rocks and soils, principles of geomechanics, rock mechanics at great depth, applications of geo-synthetics, characterization of geosynthetic interfaces with waste, rock and soils, properties and behaviour of the suitable muck management from excavations (both civil and industrial), enabling, when possible, their re-use, geomechanical characterization of waste, municipal, industrial or mixed, with care to safety and stability of landfills and reuse options, stability of landfills.

Station and tunnels of the Milan underground (M4) under construction

ILCM apparatus for the evaluation of excavation rock tools performance

Discrete element modelling of underground voids in rock mass

Outdoor air quality measurements