GeoVirginia Conference: “Lessons Learned in Geotechnical Engineering”

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GeoVirginia is a geotechnical conference focused on lessons learned from case histories. The main goal of the conference is to learn from things that went right or wrong (failures) during the design and construction of projects. Hosted every 18 months by the Virginia Geo-Institute Chapter of the ASCE, the conference was created in late 2010 by a committee appointed by Virginia G-I Chapter Chair Roger A. Failmezger, P.E., F.ASCE. The conference is held in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

In order to accomplish the stated goal, 15 highly qualified speakers are selected to give 45 minute presentations during the day and a half conference. The selected speakers have extensive geotechnical experience from around the country and overseas. A variety of project types are selected for the presentations, such as tunnels, soil stabilization and improvement, dams, roads and embankments, landslides, reinforced soils, Panama Canal, excavations and supporting systems, groundwater evaluations and dewatering systems, among others. The presentations also provide an update of soil strength parameters evaluation in terms of selecting appropriate exploration tools and the most reliable parameters.

The first and second GeoVirginia conferences were held the first week of May 2012 and the first week in October 2013. The third conference will be held early spring 2015. There are sponsorship opportunities (Platinum, Gold and Silver) and 30 geotechnical-related exhibitor opportunities. To request information about participating in or sponsoring the next conference, visit and contact a committee member for assistance. One evening is typically left free from activities to enable registrants to enjoy historic Williamsburg, which is immediately adjacent to the conference lodge. Average conference registrations are around 120, with people from a variety of backgrounds, including government agencies, consulting firms, universities, and geotechnical suppliers. It is a good opportunity to meet with colleagues, share knowledge, and learn from one another’s experiences.

ECS Virginia Beach Branch Manager Jose N. Gomez, PE, MSc. served as Conference Chair in 2012 and 2013. Approximately 20 ECS employees attended each of the conferences.

Below is a listing of the presentations from 2013:

Presentation Title
Greg Baecher
University of Maryland
Geo-risk management at the Panama Canal
Tom Brandon
Virginia Tech
The use and measurement of fully softened shear strength
Bill Edgerton
Jacobs Associates
Lessons Learned from Geotechnical Investigations at DC Clean Rivers Tunnel Project
David Elton
Auburn University (AL)
Learning from the Mistakes of Others…
Gabriel Fernandez-Delgado
Consulting Engineer
Lessons Learned in Tunnel Excavations: Rehabilitation of Machu Picchu Hydroelectric Powerhouse
Jose Gomez
ECS Mid-Atlantic, LLC
Slide Stabilization with a 17.0-meter Reinforced Earth Fill; Back Analysis, Remediation, and Geotechnical Design and Construction Lessons Learned
Robert Holtz
University of Washington
Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil: From the Experimental to the Familiar
Suzanne Lacasse
Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI)
Lessons Learned from Landslides
Gordon Matheson
Schnabel Engineering
Lessons Learned in Groundwater Evaluations
Paul Mayne
Georgia Tech
Case Studies Linking Foundation Performance and In-Situ Testing in the Appalachian Piedmont
Jim Mitchell
Virginia Tech
Lessons from the Lives of Two Dams
Tom O’Rourke
Cornell University
Lessons Learned About Excavations and Their Effects on Adjacent Structures
Andrew Noel Schofield
University of Cambridge
Lessons learned from Cambridge (UK) Soil Models: Trench & Tunnel heading damage
Al Sehn
Hayward Baker
Ground Improvement for Liquefaction Risk Mitigation – Methods, Verification, and Recent Research
Chester Watts
Radford University
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