Calgary Geotechnical Society


Welcome to the 2011–2012 lecture series!

The regular lecture series is held at the Austrian Canadian Cultural Centre at 3112 11th Street NE, Calgary. (See map here).
There is parking available either at the ACC or on-street.
The talks are held either in the upstairs hall or downstairs – doors on the west side of the building.
Lectures are free to attend unless stated otherwise.

Date Thursday May 31, 2012
EventCalgary and National Reports, CGS Awards & Lecture
LocationAustrian Canadian Cultural Centre
Time 5:30 pm – Registration and Cash-Bar
6:00 pm – Welcome and Dinner
6:45 pm – Calgary and National Reports, Presentation of CGS Awards
7:15 pm – Lecture
Speaker Chuck Brawner, P.Eng., FCAE, FEIC, FCIM
  Carroll O. (”Chuck“) Brawner is known and respected worldwide for his contributions to open-pit mining and geotechnical engineering. He earned his reputation as a foremost authority in these fields as the result of professional experience gained over half a century in no less than 40 nations and all the world's continents, including Antarctica. In 1963 he co-founded a consulting firm that provided technical assistance to hundreds of open-pit mines and mineral projects in Canada and around the world. Golder Brawner and Associates subsequently evolved into Golder Associates, an internationally recognized firm with multi-disciplinary expertise.
Mr. Brawner was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in 1929, and graduated in civil engineering from the University of Manitoba in 1953. After completing a Master of Science degree in soil mechanics from Nova Scotia Technical College (now part of Dalhousie University) in 1958, he gained valuable experience in British Columbia, which because of its mountainous terrain posed design challenges to both civil and mining engineers. He spent ten years with the province's Department of Highways before becoming President of Golder Brawner and Associates, which specialized in the application of engineering principles to the design of man-made slopes in soil and rock.
During his years as a consultant, he provided technical guidance on the design and construction of many of the world's largest and most important surface mines, including coal operations. He earned a reputation as being the best person to solve - and prevent - geotechnical problems, and became an authority on the design, construction and maintenance of stable tailings dams. While providing sage advice, he always strived to protect the safety of people, property and the environment.
Mr. Brawner was appointed Professor of Mining Engineering in the University of British Columbia's Department of Mineral Engineering, later known as the Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering. His courses on tailings dams and slope stability and mine design were core components of the mining program. He has also continued as a specialist consultant and member of international review boards and panels as C.O. Brawner Engineering Ltd. He has edited ten major mine geotechnical texts published by the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration and Miller Freeman Publications, served on numerous technical committees and chaired important industry conferences. In 2006 he published his experiences in geotechnical engineering in his autobiographical book, Engineer.Around the World in Fifty Years.
TopicCase Examples of Open Pit Mine and Transportation Rock Instability
Abstract The important factors that affect rock slope stability are briefly described. They include adverse structural geology, weak rock...
  conditions, ground water pressures and excess blasting forces. A number of international case examples are described. Comprehensive geotechnical investigations and follow-up monitoring are recommended to provide the required stability.
Sponsor Mobile Augers and Research Ltd.
Cost $40 per person; Free for full-time students
Pay at the door by cash or cheque only; pre-registration is required.
RSVP By email to by Tuesday May 29, 2012.
Please include your company name, phone number and indicate any dietary restrictions.

Date Tuesday April 24, 2012
EventCross Canada Lecture Tour (CCLT)
LocationAustrian Canadian Cultural Centre
Time 11:45 am – Registration
12:00 pm – Buffet Lunch
12:25 pm – Presentation
Speakers S. Lee Barbour, Ph.D., Professor at the University of Saskatchewan
  Lee is a professor in the Department of Civil and Geological Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The focus of his research is the modeling of seepage and transport processes in saturated or unsaturated ground water flow systems.
Lee began his career with EBA Engineering Consultants (Edmonton) and Clifton Associates (Saskatoon) before returning to the university in 1982. His PhD, under the supervision of Dr. Fredlund, included a term of study with the hydrogeology group at the University of Waterloo. Not surprisingly, this lead to a career-long interest in contaminant transport and water migration processes within unsaturated soils. The formation of the Unsaturated Soils Group at the University of Saskatchewan with Dr. Fredlund and Dr. Ward Wilson, gave him opportunity to apply these interests to mine closure challenges such as waste rock, tailings and engineered soil covers. For the past 15 years, he has led a number of multidisciplinary research studies associated with mine closure in the oil sands industry, including the long-term performance of reclamation soil covers, and containment and closure issues associated with tailings, sulphur and coke.
The Canadian Geotechnical Society (CGS) awarded Lee the Canadian Geotechnical Colloquium in 1995 as well as the GeoEnvironmental Division Award in 2004. He is a Fellow of both the EIC and the CSCE. Lee is married and has two daughters who have brought him great joy, including in recent years the joy of 4 (+) grandchildren. He is an avid cyclist, commuting by bike throughout the year. He also spends as much time as he can at the family cabin enjoying hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing. and grandkids.
Topic Can we Successfully Reclaim Oil Sands Mine Closure Landforms?
Abstract The goal of reclamation at oil sands mines in Northern Alberta is the reconstruction of landforms following mining, which...
  have an equivalent capability to those present prior to mining. This reclamation is occurring at unprecedented scales over extremely challenging parent materials. Syncrude, for example, has reclaimed nearly 3500 ha (2011) of disturbed land since 1978, approximately 17% of a total disturbance area of 20,000 ha. These reconstructed profiles have been placed over a range of parent materials comprised of saline/sodic overburden, sand and fine tailings, as well as refining by-products such as coke.
The goal of these reconstructed profiles is to accelerate the development of soil profiles through the placement of an organic rich 'A' horizon of peat/mineral mix overlying a 'B' horizon of salvaged glacial lacustrine clay or till. It is anticipated that these reconstructed soil profiles and the associated ecosite characteristics (particularly available water, soil chemistry and nutrients) will then evolve along a trajectory towards that of comparable natural profiles.
A collaborative, multi-disciplinary, research program into the design and performance of reconstructed soil profiles on lands disturbed by oil sands mining has been ongoing at the University of Saskatchewan since the late 1990s. This presentation will highlight the performance of several reconstructed soil profiles over different parent materials including saline-sodic shale, sand tailings and a refiner by-product, coke. Of particular interest will be the evolution of the hydraulic properties, the controls on water and salt transport within these cover profiles and the dynamic nature of the water balance over time. The evolution of shale chemistry due to pyrite oxidation and its impact on the reconstructed soil profile will also be highlighted.
The research highlights the relatively long time frames that are required to demonstrate the trajectory and maturation of these reclamation cover profiles; decades (10s of years) for physical changes and water dynamics and longer (50-100 years) for chemical weathering and the re-establishment of upland forests.
Organizer Canadian Geotechnical Society
Funding Canadian Foundation for Geotechnique
Sponsors BGC Engineering Inc.
EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd.
Golder Associates Ltd.
Thurber Engineering Ltd.
Cost $40 per person; Free-of-charge for full-time students
Pay at the door by cash or cheque only; pre-registration is required.
RSVP By email to or phone at 403-988-1913 by Friday April 20, 2012.
Please include your company name, phone number and indicate any dietary restrictions.

Date Thursday April 19, 2012
EventCyGS-CSCE Joint Talk
LocationBlackfoot Inn – 5940 Blackfoot Trail SE
Time 5:30 pm – Cocktails & Registration
6:30 pm – Dinner
7:15 pm – Presentation
8:30 pm – Closing Remarks
Speakers Robin Tweedie, P.Eng., Thurber Engineering Ltd.
  Robin is a Principal and Senior Geotechnical Engineer with Thurber Engineering Ltd. in Edmonton. He obtained his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from Queens's University Belfast in 1974 and a Master of Science in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Alberta in 1976, and has been employed with Thurber since that time. His experience includes geotechnical engineering for industrial plants and he has been active in the Fort McMurray oilsand plants for over 30 years, including the Syncrude Upgrade Expansion. His recent projects include the CNRL Horizon Oilsands plant, Total's Joslyn North Mine project, and numerous SAGD (Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage) plant site developments in the Fort McMurray, Conklin and Cold Lake areas.
Topic Heavy Foundation Design for Industry
Abstract The last decade has witnessed a boom in industrial plantsite development for the oil sands industry. During this time, the...
  introduction of Limit States Design in the National Building Code (2005) has had a significant impact on the design of pile foundations. This presentation will provide a geotechnical perspective of foundation design of heavy industrial plant foundations focusing on the recent oilsand plantsite developments in the Fort McMurray area. This talk will include presentation of recent pile load tests on cast-in-place-concrete piles, Continuous Flight Auger (CFA) piles, driven steel piles and helical piles, and evolution of pile designs based on these results.
Cost $30 CGS/CSCE member; $15 full-time students; $40 non-members.
Pay at the door by cash or cheque only; pre-registration is required.
Click here for registration
RSVP At least one day prior to the event so we may coordinate with the hotel catering staff.

Date Friday March 23, 2012
EventMarch – Regular Series Lecture
LocationAustrian Canadian Cultural Centre
Time 11:45 am – Registration
12:00 pm – Buffet Lunch
12:25 pm – Presentation
Speakers David Field, P.Eng., EBA Engineering
  David Field is a Principal Consultant with EBA Engineering based out of Calgary, Alberta. David is a graduate of the University of Delaware where he received a Masters degree in Geotechnical Engineering and undergraduate degrees in Civil Engineering and Geology. He has over 25 years of progressive geotechnical engineering experience in Colorado and Alberta, focusing on urban infrastructure and transportation projects. David has managed the geotechnical design effort for several large transportation projects including the Denver International Airport, The Northeast Stoney Trail DBFO project in Calgary, The Northwest Anthony Henday Drive DBFO project in Edmonton and the Design-Build Calgary West LRT project.
Topic West LRT Project
Abstract The Calgary West LRT project represents almost $1B in construction and associated costs, extending 8 km from the downtown...
  core to near the City’s western limits at 69th Street. The project includes elevated, trenched and tunnelled portions tucked into the developed urban environment along Bow Trail and 17th Avenue West, two major commuter routes. David will present an overview of the project features, site geology, geotechnical challenges and lessons learned on this complex project currently taking shape and due to open at the end of 2012.
Cost $20 per person; full-time students are free of charge.
Pay at the door by cash or cheque only; pre-registration is required.
RSVP By email to by Tuesday March 20, 2012.
Please include your company name, phone number and indicate any dietary restrictions.

Date Thursday February 23, 2012
EventFebruary – Regular Series Lecture
LocationAustrian Canadian Cultural Centre
Time 5:30 am – Cash Bar and Light Snacks
6:00 pm – Presentation
Speakers Andy Take, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Queen’s University
  Andy Take is an Associate Professor and researcher in Geotechnical Engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering at Queen’s University. Andy completed an undergraduate and a Masters degree from the University of New Brunswick with Prof. Arun Valsangkar, before travelling to the UK to undertake his PhD studies under the supervision of Prof. Malcolm Bolton at the University of Cambridge. In 2002, Andy was elected into a Research Fellowship at Churchill College, Cambridge where he worked until his return to Canada in 2004 to take up a position at Queen’s. Andy’s research is currently focused on better understanding landslide processes, developing new digital-image based technologies for measurements of displacements and strains in soils and structures, and understanding the unsaturated behaviour of geosynthetics barrier systems.
Topic Physical Modeling of Slope Instability Processes
Abstract Mechanisms of slope failure can be exceedingly complex. In some cases it may not be possible to definitively identify the...
  proximate cause of failure due to the many factors potentially contributing to the instability. Physical modeling provides a unique tool in which slope instability processes can be observed under controlled conditions. This permits researchers to isolate the various factors contributing to the instability processes in order to investigate the magnitude of their influence on the resulting observed slope behaviour. In this presentation, results of current research at Queen's is presented that aims to investigate three interesting slope failure processes - the delayed progressive failure of stiff clay slopes, the antecedent conditions prior to rainfall-induced failure of loose granular slopes that result in high velocity landslides, and the processes governing the distal run-out of granular avalanches.
RSVPNot Required

Date Thursday January 26, 2012
EventJanuary – Regular Series Lecture
LocationAustrian Canadian Cultural Centre
Time 5:30 am – Cash Bar and Light Snacks
6:00 pm – Presentation
Speakers Rodolfo Sancio, Ph.D., P.E., Geosyntec
  Dr. Sancio is a geotechnical engineer and lead of Geosyntec's Houston, Texas geotechnical engineering group. He has 14 years of experience in most areas of practice such as: geotechnical site investigations and soil/rock characterization, development and execution of specialized laboratory testing programs for development of parameters for sands, clays, silts, mine tailings, and fly ash, foundation engineering for large industrial facilities including recommendations for the selection of shallow or deep foundation systems, site and foundation settlement evaluations, probabilistic and deterministic seismic hazard assessments, static and dynamic slope stability analysis, construction issues related to site preparation and development, site development feasibility studies, earthquake reconnaissance missions and post-earthquake assessment of the performance of earthen structures and foundations, large scale modeling, issues related to seabed gouging by ice and the safety of offshore pipelines in cold regions, wave induced liquefaction analysis and pipeline flotation issues, and civil construction.
For the past 8 years, Dr. Sancio's experience was mainly focused on onshore and offshore geotechnical engineering issues for the upstream and midstream oil and gas and petrochemical industry. His work has included sites in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Gulf of Guinea, the North Caspian Sea, Sakhalin Island, Russia, Canada, and South America.
Dr. Sancio has authored or coauthored over 20 journal and conference publications, including a study on the liquefaction susceptibility of fine-grained soils that became the accepted methodology included in the 2006 version of the Canadian Foundation Engineering Manual, a study of the measurement of energy transferred during the Standard Penetration Test that was used as guidance in the development of the ASTM D4633 standard, interpretation of CPT tests in engineering practice, results of cyclic testing on fine grained soils, and results of subsurface characterization using in situ tests.
Topic Assessment of Seismically and Statically Induced Liquefaction of Fine-Grained Soils
Abstract The catastrophic failure of the TVA Kingston Dredge Pond in December of 2008 is said to have been caused by static liquefaction...
  of fly ash, a fine-grained coal combustion residue that has been typically disposed in ponds using wet deposition methods. In 2010 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a proposal to regulate coal combustion residuals, including fly ash. These pending regulations would end the use of wet-disposal techniques and require "rapid" closure of existing ash ponds. This has led to the need by the operators of coal combustion facilities to better understand the potential geotechnical implications of these regulations and develop techniques to assess static and seismically induced liquefaction of fly ash.
The presenter will provide background on static liquefaction, seismically-induced liquefaction of fine grained soils, and discuss the susceptibility of fly ash to statically and seismically induced liquefaction. Existing methodologies for their assessment and their shortcomings will be discussed.
RSVPNot Required

Date Thursday December 15, 2011
EventDecember – Regular Series Lecture
LocationAustrian Canadian Cultural Centre
Time 5:30 am – Cash Bar and Light Snacks
6:00 pm – Presentation
Speakers Martin Halliwell, P.Eng., HCM Contractors Inc.
Matthew Janes, P.Eng., Isherwood Associates.
  Martin Halliwell, P.Eng., is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario (UWO), London, ON, and President of the HCM group of companies. He has over 28 years of experience in heavy civil construction. He gained extensive background in specialty design-build geotechnical contracting while serving as Operations Manager at Deep Foundations Contractors between 1982 and 1989. The HCM Group offers innovative design-build foundation and excavation support solutions to clients in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.
Matthew Janes, P.Eng., is also a UWO graduate. He is a Senior Designer with Isherwood Associates, one of the leading geo-structural design firms in Canada, and has over 25 years experience in specialty geotechnical design and construction including extensive expertise in predictive geotechnical modeling. He is also President and Founder of Vancouver-based Resonance Technologies Inc., a firm offering Sonic Vibration Technology to the foundation industry throughout North America. Matt is a Trustee of the Deep Foundations Institute, and was a two-time All Canadian linebacker for the powerful UWO Mustangs.
Topic Bow Tower Project
Abstract The Encana Corporation Bow Tower Project in downtown Calgary featured the largest design-build excavation support system...
  ever constructed in Calgary. The site covered two city blocks, had a footprint of 17,000 m2 and a supported face of 13,000 m2. Challenging geotechnical conditions included water bearing gravels over soft rock which was highly susceptible to weathering. HCM Contractors teamed with Isherwood Associates on a unique solution involving a tieback-supported Secant Wall Over Shotcrete (SWOS wall) to retain the 20.5 m (70 ft) deep excavation. This two part presentation features both the Contractor (Martin Halliwell) and Designer (Matt Janes) in a unique format designed to provide the listener with a clear view of the practical challenges, the analysis and design process, and the knowledge gained. This Project was also presented at the Annual Meeting of the Deep Foundations Institute.
RSVPNot Required

Date Friday November 4, 2011
EventFall Cross-Canada Lecture Tour (CCLT) 2011
LocationAustrian Canadian Cultural Centre
Time 11:45 am – Registration and Cash Bar
12:00 pm – Buffet Lunch
12:25 pm – Presentation
Speaker Steven G. Vick, P.E., author and independent consultant
  Author and independent consultant Steven G. Vick has based his practice in the mountains of Colorado for the past 25 of his 40 years in the profession. Long specializing in mining geotechnics, his first book Planning, Design, and Analysis of Tailings Dams remains the classic text on the topic and has been in print continuously for almost 30 years. Focusing on dam safety aspects, in the 1990s Vick spearheaded the first catalog of tailings dam failures, compiled by the U.S. Society on Dams.
Beginning with graduate research at MIT, his other main interest has been risk and probabilistic methods. In a crossover application, Vick helped pioneer risk analysis in dam safety with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other dam owners in Canada and elsewhere. This led to publication in 2002 of Degrees of Belief, the only book of its kind exploring the interface between subjective probability and engineering judgment. Drawing on fields beyond engineering, it has been called a “masterpiece of Natural Philosophy.”
A veteran of Klohn Leonoff's former Denver office, Vick has always had close ties with the Canadian geotechnical community. For him, this enhances the honour of presenting the fall 2011 Cross Canada Lecture Tour.
Topic The Science of Judgment
Abstract Since Ralph Peck asked in 1980 where judgment had gone, there has been little sign of its return, and engineering judgment...
  is privately viewed in some circles as a metaphysics for the elderly or the analytically inept. This lecture seeks to revive the concept of engineering judgment by elaborating its principles and establishing its foundations in cognitive and behavioural research.
First, judgment is fundamentally inductive – using specific cases to arrive at generalizations, a property it shares with all branches of science, with only mathematics being wholly deductive. This may seem to put judgment at odds with the mathematically deductive character of engineering analysis that reasons the other way around – from the general to the specific, from first principles to what passes for objective truth. But in all engineering problem solving, it is the judgmental induction of diagnosis that precedes deductive analysis, and inductive judgment of interpretation that follows.
Inductive judgment and deductive analysis are complementary. Neither is right or wrong; they do different things. In deductive analysis, if all of the premises (assumptions) are true, then the conclusion (results) must be true. Induction cannot arrive at unequivocal truth, it can only find something to be probably true. Inseparable from judgment then is the notion of probability, and the relation between the two has much to say about judgment's cognitive basis. Within this framework, the lecture develops the following topics in a geotechnical context:
• Causal and statistical reasoning strategies
• The relationship between experience and judgment
• The role of case histories
• Weighing evidence: the importance of lists
• Calibration and feedback
• Mental simulation and Homer Simpson
• Risk analysis in diagnosis and visualization
• Geology in diagnosis and visualization
• Pattern recognition, experience, and case histories
• Intuition, hypothesis, diagnosis, and pattern recognition: Henri Poincare
• Situational awareness: seeing the Big Picture
For many, this framework will provide a new perspective on judgment. It does not merely assert, it establishes why judgment is a necessary component of all engineering problem solving, far from the nebulous accessory it has often been taken to be.
Organizer Canadian Geotechnical Society
Funding Canadian Foundation for Geotechnique
Sponsors BGC Engineering Inc.
EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd.
Golder Associates Ltd.
Thurber Engineering Ltd.
Cost $40 per person; full-time students are free of charge.
Pay at the door by cash or cheque only; pre-registration is required.
RSVP By email to or phone at 403-216-8992 by Tuesday November 1, 2011.
Please include your company name, phone number and indicate any dietary restrictions.

Date Thursday September 22, 2011
EventSeptember – Regular Series Lecture
LocationAustrian Canadian Cultural Centre
Time 5:30 pm – Cash Bar
6:00 pm – Lecture
Speaker Sidantha Weerakone, Ph.D., Golder Associates Ltd.
Winner of the Calgary Geotechnical Society's 2011 Student Travel Award
  Sidantha obtained his PhD degree from the University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr. Ron Wong and his Masters and Bachelors degrees from Singapore and Sri Lanka, respectively. His postgraduate research background covers Hydrology, Hydrogeology and Geotechnical Engineering. Sidantha authored and co-authored several journal and conference papers.
Sidantha is a junior geotechnical engineer in Golder Associates Ltd. Before joining Golder, he worked as a junior engineer in E2K Engineering, Canada and Toa Corporation, Singapore. At Golder, Sidantha is mainly involved in geotechnical design work of tailing ponds and other related infrastructure for oil sand mines, specifically in stability, deformation and seepage aspects. He also conducts sequential tailing deposition simulations for tailings management purposes.
Sidantha was a member of the organizing committee for the 2010 Canadian Young Geotechnical Engineers and Geologists conference (cYGEGC 2010). He also worked as student representative and executive committee member of the Calgary Geotechnical Society for two consecutive years. Sidantha has received NSERC doctoral scholarship, Queen Elizabeth II doctoral scholarship, Dean's entrance scholarship and Government of Alberta graduate student scholarship as a post graduate student at U of C. The Calgary Geotechnical Society has recently selected to sponsor him to attend the 2011 Pan-Am CGS Geotechnical Conference.
Topic Effect of Fracture Characteristics on Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPL)-Water Flow in Rock Fractures
Abstract This study investigated the immiscible two-phase flow processes in rock fractures, experimentally and theoretically, under...
  capillary forces dominated and viscous forces dominated conditions. The aperture distributions required for the study were obtained from fractures in sandstone and shale specimens of Alberta Paskapoo Formation using X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) technique.
Capillary pressure-saturation relationship was the most important parameter to be determined from the laboratory experiments to solve the governing equations of capillary forces dominated two-phase flow in rock fractures. Experiments were designed and conducted to measure the capillary pressure saturation relationship for rock fractures. A reasonable comparison was observed between the experimentally and theoretically determined capillary pressure curves. Further, the geostatistically generated aperture distributions demonstrated that the amount of spatial continuity in aperture distributions in flow direction affects the properties of the capillary pressure-saturation relationship and single phase permeability of rock fractures.
The experimental results of two-phase flow tests indicated that the conventional relative permeability concept cannot represent the viscous forces dominated two-phase flow in fractures accurately. Instead, the Lockhart-Martinelli model that is used to analyze two-phase flow in pipes demonstrated a better match.
RSVPNot Required