Theory of Sampling and Environmental Decision Making

Soil matrices are an often highly heterogeneous mixture of naturally occurring soil particles and anthropogenic material.  The sampling of such a heterogeneous mixture and the uncertainties associated with it, is often ignored, with the main emphasis on potential error only considered post sampling.

This work combines the use of conceptual, deterministic and stochastic, models to develop a sampling tool.  The models simulated the heterogeneity present within soil matrices, and aided the development of experimental procedures that utilised correct sampling techniques to characterise uncertainty.  Comparisons made using the stochastic models and current industry standards indicated a lack of control concerning sampling uncertainty when considering made ground materials.  Further experimentation was carried out to characterise the errors incurred through the collection of samples.

Modelled errors using British Standards
Modelled errors using British Standards
The errors generated when no sampling procedures are followed could render any laboratory analysis and the decisions based on these results invalid even if the laboratories are fully accredited.  If sampling theory is applied to environmental, geotechnical or any engineering sampling then the risk of poor decision-making and liabilities and associated costs is reduced.
Example of a correct sampling protocol
Example of a correct sampling protocol

For further Information, please contact:

Dr Rory Doherty
Environmental Engineering Research Centre
School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 4746
E-mail: r.doherty@qub.ac.uk