Risk in Geotechnical Practice: Dealing With Uncertain Ground

by Ranjan Satyamurthy, P.E., Ph.D., project manager with Kleinfelder in Redmond, WA, ranjan@kleinfelder.com.

Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2020, Vol. 24, Issue 1, Pg. 58-63


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: Tools for identifying and managing risk in geotechnical engineering projects. Risk is an inherent component of all types of projects, no matter the size or discipline. Geotechnical engineering projects are particularly risky for several reasons. First, as we in this field know well, the geotechnical landscape is complex and highly variable. Often projects can have unique objectives (e.g., unusually small settlement criteria) that differ significantly from our past experience, and their complexity may evolve as the project progresses (e.g., an adjacent building is unexpectedly affected by the project construction activities). Second, lean staffing, lower budgets due to commoditization of services, use of published correlations and complex computer programs for analysis and design, data inadequacy, and other uncertainties have led to an increase in the frequency and severity of project risks. For simple projects, it may be adequate for risk mitigation to consist of brainstorming or interviews with senior staff. But for relatively complex, nonroutine projects, there are few alternatives to using robust tools to guide risk identification and management.

Subject Headings: Project management | Geotechnical engineering | Risk management | Geohazards | Construction management | Computer analysis | Landscaping | Structural settlement

 

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