Engineers Australia

18th Glossop Medal Lecture: Variability and ground hazards: how does the ground get to be unexpected.

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Australian lectures cancelled

Please note that due to health reasons, the Australia presentations of the Glossop Medal Lecture have been cancelled. If there are any updates or the situation changes, news will be posted to the website.


The Glossop Award and Lecture was established in 1997 as the most prestigious lecture of the Engineering Group of the Geological Society, to be presented by an invited eminent engineering geologist.

The 18th Glossop Medal was awarded to Jackie Skipper (BSc, PhD, DIC, CGeol.) for her lecture: Variability and ground hazards: how does the ground get to be unexpected.

When something goes wrong in a civil engineering project, ‘unexpected ground conditions’ are often blamed. Natural variability of the ground can indeed be the cause of engineering hazards – but what are the causes of this variability? The systems in which sediments are laid down, weathered, eroded, faulted, frozen, transported, all make soils (and their behaviour) more complex. Engineering itself represents a type of assault on the ground, and variable sediments respond variably – leading to a wide range of potential hazards. Understanding why the ground is variable therefore leads to a better understanding of this response, allowing improved prediction and management of risks.

Using case histories, the 18th Glossop Lecture will explore the relationship between ground variability and engineering risk, in particular how training can increase the level of understanding of the ground at every level of a project.