National Terzaghi lecture

Protecting the environment with geosynthetics

Dr. R. Kerry Rowe

Geosynthetics are now widely used to contain fluids and protect the environment. Applications include most modern landfills, lagoons for contaminated fluid and drinking water, dams, and mining applications where loss of fluid to surface water or groundwater must be minimized. These systems often involve a single liner with welded panels of geomembrane liner, a geosynthetic clay liner, or a composite liner with a geomembrane over a clay liner. For large landfills or other higher-risk applications, a double liner system with a geocomposite or granular drain between two liners is used. Most frequently designs have used materials that meet a minimum set of commonly specified index parameters. This lecture draws together field observations, long-term experimental data, and theory to show how, and why, these systems have worked so well while highlighting the importance of design and construction considerations that, if overlooked, can cause problems. It then discusses the means of avoiding pitfalls.

About the speaker

Dr. R. Kerry Rowe Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Queen’s University, Canada

Holds the Canada Research Chair in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. He has extensive research and consulting experience in geosynthetics, waste management and geoenvironmental engineering including the design and/or peer review of hydrogeology and/or design for more than 60 landfills in Canada, US and other countries. He was the key advisor developing technical aspects of regulations in a number or countries. In addition to landfills, his long list of projects includes remediation of PCB contaminated soil in the Canadian Arctic; the remediation of hydrocarbon contaminated soil in the Arctic and Antarctic; and liners for mining applications. He has been recognized by numerous awards including the Giroud Lecture (2002), Rankine Lecture (2005), Casagrande Lecture (2011), and the ASCE Karl Terzaghi Lecture (2017). The International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering has created the ISSMGE R. Kerry Rowe Lecture. He has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, a foreign Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Fellow UK Royal Academy of Engineering and both the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as Professional Societies in Australia, Canada, and USA. He is a past president of the International Geosynthetics Society, the Canadian Geotechnical Society and the Engineering Institute of Canada. He has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

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