Risk in Geotechnical Practice: Geotechnical Judgment
People use judgment in every aspect of their lives. We rely on our judgments to make decisions that can have consequences from small to large on ourselves and on others, sometimes with life-threatening...

Risk in Geotechnical Practice: Dealing With Uncertain Ground
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...

Soil Sampling at Sword Beach in Normandy, France, 1943: How Geotechnical Engineering Influenced the D-Day Invasion
When the World paused last summer to remember the 75th anniversary of D-Day, many of us were gripped by stories, both heroic and horrific, told about the Allied invasion of Normandy’s beaches. One of these...

Best Practices For Geotechnical Site Characterization: Have We Regressed from Decades Past?
The objective of a geotechnical site-characterization program is to determine soil and rock stratigraphy, in-situ pore water pressure conditions, and soil and rock properties for analysis and design of...

Swift Support
In April and May, Civil Engineering published online a "Special Coverage: COVID-19" series of articles that focused on how civil engineers quickly responded to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three...

West Virginia’s Airport In The Clouds: Response to a Massive Slope Failure at Runway’s End
Although the small and scenic Mountain State ranked 40 out of 50 in population according to a July 2017 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, it boasts seven airports. Yeager Airport (CRW), billed as "West Virginia’s...

Highway Embankment Failure on Soft Clay: Bad Input = Bad Output
Our ability to analyze and compute 2D and 3D factors of safety for embankments and slopes, including finite element and finite difference analyses, has increased greatly in the last decade. However, use...

Learning From Pile Driving Failures: Out of Sight Can't be Out of Mind
The design of driven pile foundations for static service and strength limit state loading conditions is meaningless if the piles cannot be driven to the required depth and nominal resistance without sustaining...

Flexible Rockfall Barrier Post Support Performance: Deflection as a Positive Attribute
Rockfall has plagued infrastructure for centuries, whether generated by natural weathering of unaltered rock slopes or due to jointing and weaknesses in constructed rock slopes. Rockfall in the U.S. has...

Seeing into the Subsurface: Harnessing Geophysics to Remotely Monitor the Condition of Earthworks
Condition assessment of geotechnical structures is essential for cost-effective maintenance and prevention of hazardous failure events. Early identification of deteriorating conditions generally allows...

In the Wake of the Mount Polley Mine Tailings Breach: Tailings Dam Design, Innovation, and Practice Changes
The Mount Polley tailings dam in British Columbia (BC), Canada, failed in 2014, spilling approximately 21 million m3 of water and tailings (estimated as approximately 50/50 water and tailings) into Hazeltine...

Tsunami Loads and Effects
Guide to the Tsunami Design Provisions of ASCE 7-16
The devastating tsunamis that struck Chile and Japan in 2010 and 2011 underscored the critical need for new structural design criteria to improve building resilience and safeguard human life. They also...

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....

From Fame to Failure: The St. Francis Dam (Part 2)
In the July/August issue, History Lesson examined the construction of California's St. Francis Dam and its catastrophic failure in 1928. This month's instalment examines the causes and aftermath of the...

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...

Failures Inspire Progress: Protecting Sensitive Buildings from Tunnelling
Tunnelling in urban areas is always a challenge, and it’s especially so when construction is proximate to densely populated districts. Such was the case on January 25, 2005, when a 10-m length of a Barcelona...

Compliance with the Standard of Care: Hurricane Katrina Canal Breaches in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward
Hurricane Katrina Canal Breaches in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. On August 29, 2005, more than 50 levees and flood walls failed to protect New Orleans, LA, during Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating...

Forensic Investigations Get to the Facts: East Side IHNC Flood Wall Breaches during Hurricane Katrina
East Side IHNC Flood Wall Breaches during Hurricane Katrina. I served as a geotechnical expert for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) supporting the defense of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)...

Helicopter-Based Geophysical Reconnaissance of Levees: A Faster, Cost-Effective Tool for Assessing Their Risk
As with much of the nation's infrastructure, people are becoming more and more aware of the condition of levee systems in the United States. The media cast a spotlight on the New Orleans levee failures...

What's New in Geo? The Future of Numerical Geo-Modeling: Is 3D Here to Stay?!
Application of soil mechanics in engineering practice has undergone remarkable changes over the past 50 years as a result of developments in computer technology. Each improvement in computing capability,...

 

 

 

 

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