From Fame to Failure: The St. Francis Dam (Part 1)
One of the most devastating engineering disasters in American history, the 1928 St. Francis Dam failure has had a lasting impact on the profession of civil engineering....

Designed for Durability
The Marc Basnight Bridge, completed in February, carries North Carolina Highway 12 over the Oregon Inlet, an area that is one of the most dynamic and dangerous inlets on the Atlantic Coast. At 2.8 mi long,...

The Present And Future Of Virtual and Augmented Reality In Geotechnical Engineering: This Technology Has Gone Way Beyond Gaming!
One of the greatest challenges with subsurface construction has always been our relative inability to visualize underground conditions that are often comprised of spatially variable soil and rock strata,...

Reliability-Based Design (RBD) For Everyone: (No Monte Carlo Simulation Required!)
In North America, the design of earth structures for transportation applications is most often carried out using load and resistance factor design (LRFD). In the U.S., the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications...

The Transcona Grain Elevator Failure Revisited: A Modern Perspective a Century Later
More than a century ago, a seminal event in the then world of foundation engineering took place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, when the mat-foundation-supported Transcona Grain Elevator underwent catastrophic...

An Unknown-Unknown Does In An Overpass: A Soil Stockpile on Soft Clay Is Too Much for a Bridge in Canada
Like most structures, bridges are designed for an array of loading conditions. Some loads are known or can be reasonably estimated with confidence (i.e., known-knowns, such as structure dead and vehicular...

Geotechnical Aspects Of Coastal Impacts During Hurricanes Harvey And Irma: Logistical and Technical Challenges During Reconnaissance
As designers and managers for society’s infrastructure, civil engineers, including the geotechnical community, must understand and predict the most severe expected loadings from physical or environmental...

The State of Soil Improvement in China: The G-I Soil Improvement Committee’s China Scan Tour
During the last four decades, China has made significant improvement in various sectors of its infrastructure, including high-speed railways, long-span and cross-sea bridges, large dams, long- and large-diameter...

Drones: An Engineering Reconnaissance Tool of Tomorrow, but Here Today!
About six years ago, I began researching geotechnical engineering applications of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. My initial efforts were encouraged by most of my colleagues, but were criticized...

Geotechnics of the Suez Canal Construction: 150 Years Old, but Nearly Four Millennia in the Making
Construction of the Suez Canal created one of the most important waterways in the world, connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Its construction from 1854 to 1869 created three cities, Port-Said, Ismailia,...

Immortal and Ethereal Beauty in Stone: The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal, probably one of the most beautiful structures in the world, has withstood the vagaries of history and the environment. Lengthy tomes have been written on its beauty and the details of the...

What Lurks Below: The Geotechnical Intrigue of Boston’s Back Bay
In 1858, the great filling of Back Bay began. Completed in about 20 years, it led to nearly 100 city blocks of iconic 4- and 5-story brick rowhouses. In the past 60 years, about 50 high-rise buildings...

Connecting Continents: Challenges of the Eurasia Tunnel in Istanbul
The Eurasia Tunnel, the first bored tunnel crossing of the Istanbul Strait (Bosphorus) in Istanbul, Turkey, is a site that presents many unique challenges, including very poor ground conditions, unusually...

Advances In Geosynthetic Solutions For Sustainable Landfill Design: Geosynthetics Really Do Last!
Even though geosynthetics are now a well-established discipline within geotechnical engineering, ingenuity continues to play a significant role in projects involving their use. This is because it’s possible...

NTSB Issues Preliminary Report on Florida Bridge Collapse
In late May, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report about the March 15 structural failure and collapose of a partially-constructed pedestrian bridge in Miami....

What's Hiding Between the Boreholes?
Often, geotechnical explorations consist of a few, strategically placed boreholes and considerable interpolation and extrapolation by the geotechnical engineer. The information between boreholes in most...

State of the Practice for Laboratory Testing of Soft Soils: It's All in the Details
As with all material testing, soils testing has undergone dramatic advances in technology because of computer automation. In the 1970s, laboratories were filled with dial gages, proving rings, mercury...

A Good Cause for a Causeway: How Geotechnology and Project Delivery Restored a Roadway Embankment Crossing a Historically Challenging Soft Ground Site
As part of a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) design-build project, a causeway was constructed in 2017 to replace an aging bridge in the southwest metropolitan area of Minneapolis. The causeway...

Sustainability and Resilience in Transportation Infrastructure Geotechnics: Integrating Advanced Technologies for Better Asset Management
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, enumerates 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be achieved by the member countries...

When Bridges, Roadways, and Dams Need Our Help: Innovative Techniques Can Help Save Our Nation's Critical Infrastructure
The nation's infrastructure is showing its age. The signs are obvious with structure distress, lack of functionality, and failure reported frequently over the last several decades. Specialty geotechnical...

 

 

 

 

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