AbstractA membrane-type vacuum consolidation system, including surcharge loading and prefabricated vertical drains, was applied to rapidly consolidate soft clay beneath a circular embankment located at the National Field Testing Facility (NFTF) at Ballina, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Most previous studies were devoted to multidrain systems corresponding to an embankment strip loading in two-dimensional (2D) plane strain. So far, no case study has been investigated using vacuum consolidation via prefabricated vertical drains (PVDs) beneath a circular loaded area, where the system conforms to an axisymmetric problem. This paper outlines the site investigation, construction technique, and installation of a suite of instrumentation on this circular embankment. It also describes and discusses consolidation during and after the construction of this embankment in terms of settlement, excess pore water pressure, lateral deformation, and water flow relationships as they pertain to prediction embankment with vertical drains and surcharge only. The case study demonstrates that a loss of vacuum pressure can be prevented using the proposed approach in a membrane system. Treatment of water extracted using the vacuum consolidation technique, especially in acid-sulfate terrain, is also presented.