How Well Do Current Empirically-Based Attenuation Relationships Capture Nonlinear Site Effects?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 – 12:00 – 01:00 pm, 2312 Yeh Student Center


Izzat Idriss, PhD
Professor Emeritus – University of California Davis

Starting in the early 1970s, examination of recorded data at soil and rock sites over the past years has indicated that: earthquake ground motions recorded at “rock” sites are greater than those recorded at soil sites at distances close to the source; and the earthquake ground motions recorded at “rock” sites are smaller than those recorded at soil sites at distances farther from the source. The study by Duke et al. (1972) relied mostly on recordings from the 1971 San Fernando earthquake. The study by Seed et al. (1976) included a number of other earthquakes in addition to the 1971 San Fernando earthquake.
The 2014 NGA West2 studies included collection of numerous earthquake ground motion data recorded at a wide range of site conditions. These indicate similar trends to those obtained in the 1970s. This difference in the variations of earthquake ground motions recorded on “rock” sites compared to those recorded on soil sites is attributable to the nonlinear site effects. The current 2014 NGA West2 published models are also examined to assess whether the trends exhibited are captured by the attenuation relationships employed in these models. The results of this examination will be presented during this talk. Essentially, none of the 2014 NGA West2 relationships captures the trend sufficiently to fully capture the nonlinear site effects evident in the data.
I.M. Idriss is a UC Davis professor emeritus of geotechnical engineering whose research on soil mechanics and foundation engineering has influenced the construction of dams, nuclear power plants, seaports, office buildings, residences, hospitals, railways, and bridges around the world. In 1999, Idriss received the UC Davis Distinguished Public Service Award, an honor that recognizes faculty members who have made public service contributions to the community, state, nation and world throughout their professional careers. This followed his 1989 election to the National Academy of Engineering and the many high honors he has received from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Please view the flyer and bio attached for further details: GESO Guest Speaker Flyer – Izzat Idriss

Epic Fail- Shedding Light on Underground Risk

Monday, April 11, 2016 – 5:00 – 06:00 pm, 1311  Yeh Center


Rory Ball & Michael Vitale
Hatch Mott MacDonald

Several recent tunnel projects will be covered, including how geotechnical risks were identified and mitigated (or not) through the design effort.  Results during construction will be compared with expected outcomes.  Projects include: the micro tunnel that almost blew up Southern California; a shaft that also doubles as a very deep swimming pool; and a collapsed building in New York that supplied ducks to all of the local Chinese restaurants (police suspect ‘fowl’ play).

Mr. Ball’s experience includes planning, design, resident engineering, and project management roles on a wide variety of tunnel and underground construction projects.  He has in-depth knowledge in the areas of contract document preparation, trenchless construction, conventional tunnel excavation, TBM tunneling, pressurized face tunneling, portal design, and shaft and tunnel initial support design.  Mr. Ball leads a diverse working group of trenchless experts for the tunnel practice within HMM.  His worldwide experience includes projects in a dozen U.S. states, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand and includes tunnels in soft mud with zero blow count, to extremely abrasive soil with abundant cobbles and boulders, to glacial till, to a variety of hard rock types.

Mr. Vitale has extensive worldwide experience in the underground industry.  His areas of expertise encompass soil and rock engineering, hand-mined and TBM tunnels, pressurized-face tunnels, tunnel and shaft lining systems including segmental linings, micro tunnels, and other underground construction/braced excavations.  He has served as Design and Project Manager on some of the largest CSO tunnel projects in the United States and Southeast Asia.  Several of these projects have won international awards and recognition for innovations in tunnel methodology, lining design and drop shaft design/construction.  Mr. Vitale is a frequent author/presenter at national tunnel conferences and is active on many national technical committees and organizations.  He recently authored Chapter 7- “Wastewater Tunnels” in The History of Tunneling in the United States and was one of the primary authors of the ASCE Standard Guideline for Micro tunneling.


Please view the flyer and bio attached for further details: GESO Guest Speaker – Ball and Vitale

In-Place Weathering of Late-Stage Volcanic Materials at Ka Loko Dam, Hawaii

Friday, April 15, 2016 – 12:00 – 01:30 pm, 3310 Yeh Center


David R. Groholski, PhD, PE
Senior Engineer, Civil Engineering

Ka Loko Dam, in Kauai, Hawaii, failed suddenly and catastrophically on March 14, 2006.  The resulting broad “U”-shaped breach was marked by three distinct topographic benches.  The lowest bench was founded on a greasy, waxy, gel-like material produced by in-place weathering of late-stage volcanic materials.  Gravel-size pieces in the hydraulic fill of the embankment derived from these materials were also weathered in place.  Engineers and geologists generally assume that the strength, stiffness, and durability of bedrock, earth, and embankment materials will not vary over the operating life of a hydraulic fill dam.  However, bedrock materials can progressively weather into soil constituents over “geologic time.”  In the case of Ka Loko, late-stage volcanic materials substantially weathered in-place over approximately 115 years.  Prolonged exposure to seepage of anoxic water completely weathered the bedrock to saprolite, including weak, sensitive, fine, spherical halloysite clay.

Please view the flyer and bio attached for further details: 16-03-22 – David Groholski

Seismic Response of a High Plasticity, Diatomaceous Naturally Cemented Soft Clay Deposit

Moday, April 4, 2016 – 15:00 – 16:00 pm, B218 Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory

Xavier Vera

Xavier Vera-Grunauer, PhD
Director of the Engineering Institute at the UCSG and CEO of Geoestudios

High plasticity deltaic estuarine clays (non-liquefiable NEHRP F sites) are the predominant soils in Guayaquil City in Ecuador. A new geotechnical characterization scheme for these soils was proposed based on geological studies, historical data of geotechnical and insitu explorations. Accordingly, some correlations were developed between geotechnical parameters and seismic response properties to characterize the Guayaquil soil deposits for dynamic analyses. Based on the calculated elastic and inelastic responses of these soils, a seismic zonation for the city was proposed. In addition, a detailed procedure for estimating a design site response spectrum for Guayaquil City’s prevalent soil conditions was developed. The experimental results and numerical procedures presented in this research provide a framework for understanding the mechanical behavior of the estuarine-deltaic, high plasticity, diatomaceous, naturally cemented clay and provide key information for the design of engineered systems in Guayaquil and for cities worldwide, with similar geomorphological, seismic, and geotechnical characteristics.

Please view the flyer and bio attached for further details: GESO Guest Speaker – Dr. Xavier Vera

Experiences in large slope stability problems under complex geology

Friday, March 4, 2016 – 12:00 – 1:00 pm, 3310 Yeh Student Center

Camilo Marulanda, Ph.D.
Technical Manager, INGETEC

This presentation presents a brief summary of the origin of metamorphic rocks, specially schist and the presence of shear or gouge zones in metamorphic rocks, as defects that induce weakness characteristics to the rock mass and that depart substantially from the traditionally evaluation of joints and discontinuities, turning eventually into failure surfaces that govern the stability conditions of surface works. The effect these weak zones inflict into the metamorphic rock mass, especially to schist, causing significant slope stability problems, is illustrated through three case histories. The presence of such defects in the rock mass, detected and analyzed by means of exploratory holes drilled from the surface, can be hardly anticipated during the design stage as far as location, dip direction and geotechnical characteristics, given their erratic alignment within the rock mass, and their disguise during the drilling processes when the clay infill is washed away by the drill water, making their recognition and readiness for lab test sampling even more difficult. Special care of these geologic features, often present in metamorphic rocks, must be taken through: 1) direct exploration –such as galleries–, 2) the elaboration and interpretation of adequate geological models and corresponding sensitivity analyses of shear strength parameters of the established failure surfaces and 3) sound decision making and implementation of stabilization measures based on engineering judgment.

Please view the flyer and bio attached for further details: GESO Guest Speaker – Camilo Marulanda

Instability of Sand and its Implications for the Design of Tailing Dams

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 – 11:00 – 12:00 pm, 2312 Yeh Student Center

Jian Chu, Ph.D.
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Static liquefaction or flowslide is considered as one of the most common failure mechanisms for granular slopes or tailings dams. One of design approaches adopted is to use the residual strength or the so-called post-liquefaction undrained shear strength. However, there are a number of problems associated with this approach. One of them is that the post-liquefaction strength cannot be determined properly experimentally. The assumption of an undrained condition is also questionable for sand or tailings with relatively high permeability under static loading conditions. In this seminar, instability behavior of sand under undrained, drained, and other than undrained conditions are presented to illustrate that instability does not have to occur under an undrained condition and “undrained” does not have to be taken as a design assumption. Based on the new findings, a different design approach to use the stress ratio of instability line or the peak strength ratio is suggested.

Please view the flyer and bio attached for further details: Jian Chu, PhD


Problematic Soils in Australia and New Zealand

Thursday, March 3, 2016 – 12:00pm, B02 Coordinated Science Laboratory (CSL)

Sergei Terzaghi , Principal at ARUP

Australia and New Zealand contain many unusual and/or problematic soils.  Failure tounderstand the properties and behavior of these materials will lead to major cost overrunsand substantial difficulties in projects involving these materials.  Conversely, designingthe projects to take into account the unusual properties can lead to significant costsavings.  A number of case histories from both countries will be presented to illustrate theunique properties and how these properties can either lead to an economical design or toproblems. In New Zealand, there are two groups of soils that lead to fairly unusualproblems. The first is the pumiceous materials of the Central Volcanic Zone and theirallophane rich weathered materials, and the second are the residual soils of Auckland andNorthland.  All of these materials have high void ratios, but contrary to expectation, theyare often quite strong and stiff. Once a critical yield stress (or strain) is reached however,their behavior changes quite radically.  The reasons and consequences will be discussed.

Please view the flyer and bio attached for further details: GESO Guest Speaker -Sergei Terzaghi

Geo-Institute (ASCE) Cross USA Lecture

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 – 12:00pm, 3310 B02 Coordinated Science Laboratory (CSL)


Professor Jean-Louis Briaud, Ph.D, P.E
Distinguished Professor, Texas A&M University, President of FedIGS

Technical Communications: Humor and Philosophy

Professor Jean-Louis Briaud is a Distinguished Professor and Holder of the Spencer J. Buchanan Chair in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. He has served as President of the Association of Geotechnical Engineering Professors in the USA, President of the Geo-Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers, President of the ISSMGE, and is the current President of the FedIGS. He will be delivering cross country lectures at major universities of the United States and the University of Illinois will host him during such an instance.
His lecture will address some of the basic rules of technical communications, illustrated with a collection of events and situations related to communication problems and solutions in the technical world. Case histories such as the Washington Monument, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and the World War II cliffs of Normandy will be used. The goal of the lecture will be to share his valuable experiences.

Please view the flyer and bio attached for further details: Cross Country Lecture by Professor Briaud

Links to Professor Briaud’s presentation:

Lecture Video:

PPT File: Cross USA-Briaud-Illinois

Fixing the crack in Wanapum Dam

11/06/2015 – 12:00pm 3310 Yeh Center

rick d

Rick Deschamps PhD, PE, Vice President Nicholson Construction

Dr. Rick Deschamps is currently the Vice President of Engineering at NicholsonConstruction Company where he oversees Nicholson’s design group in the development ofcompetitive design-build systems for geo-construction projects throughout the U.S.A.  Hereceived his Bachelors and Masters in Civil Engineering from the University of South Florida andhis PhD in Civil Engineering from Purdue University in 1992. Afterwards Dr. Deschamps spent some time as an Assistant Professor within the Civil Engineering department at Purdue, followed by a number of years at FMSM Engineers in Kentucky, where he was heavily involved in design using advanced numerical models to address complex problems. He has been with Nicholson for the past 11 years, serving first as the Manager and now the Vice President of Engineering. He recently received the ASCE’s Wallace Hayward Baker award in 2013 in recognition of ingenious innovation in ground modification. He is a licensed professional engineer in several states and now has over 30 years of industry experience in consulting, academia and construction.

Please view the flyer and bio attached for further details: GESO Guest Speaker – Rick Deschamps – Nicholson Construction


Upcoming GESO Seminars

10/30/2015 – 12:00pm 3310 Yeh Center

lile simonton

Mr. Lyle Simonton from Subsurface Constructors

“Practical Considerations in Foundation Construction: A Contractor’s Perspective”

Please view the flyer attached for further details: GESO Guest Speaker – Lyle Simonton – Subsurface Constructors


11/02/2015 – 12:00pm 2312 Yeh Center

Mr. Ahmed Baghdady, UIUC PhD Student

“Oso Landslide Failure Mechanisms and Material Properties”

Please view the flyer attached for further details: GESO Guest Speaker – Baghdady and Stark


CEE Career Fair

The CEE Fall 2015 Job Fair is to be held in the Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory (Crane Bay)  on Thursday September 24th, between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm. A flyer with a listing of geotechnical companies is attached. Make sure to bring your i-card to check in at the job fair.

Geotechnical Engineering Companies

Geotech Potluck Picnic

The Geotechnical Engineering Student Organization would like to announce the fall “Geotech Potluck Picnic” this Saturday, September 19th at Illini Grove Park from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. This is a great opportunity to grab a bite with your classmates and professors and meet the new faces in the program.  Friends and family are also welcome. If you could bring a dish to contribute to the outing that would be great. See you Saturday!

Please view the flyer attached for further detail: GESO Picnic Poster