Geoenvironment: Protecting the Environment using Geosynthetics

Some answers and some questions

Prof. Kerry Rowe

This event has been cancelled due to COVID travel restrictions

In the six decades since Karl Terzaghi, soil mechanics has evolved into what is known today as geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering. The range of applications has increased, but sound practice is still based on the basic approaches pioneered by Terzaghi. Perhaps what has changed most is the range of materials that can aid in solving some of the problems and many new aspects of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering. Examples include the use of geosynthetics for stabilizing embankments on soft ground; steepening slopes with new construction; erosion protection, drainage, and stabilization of existing slopes; minimizing greenhouse gases; using the ground (e.g., energy piles) to help reduce carbon-based energy needs and hence minimize global warming, etc.  In geoenvironmental engineering, geosynthetics are widely used to contain fluids and protect the environment. Applications include most modern landfills; lagoons for contaminated fluid, valuable process solutions, and drinking water; dams; and mining applications such as heap leach pads, tailings storage facilities where loss of fluid to surface water or groundwater must be minimized, and in capping waste rock where the ingress of water and oxygen need to be minimized to reduce generation of acid rock drainage. In this technical presentation, the state-of-the-art for barriers systems control of pollution migration and hydraulic structures including liner systems for landfills, mine waste, and dams/lagoons are discussed along with some comments on current significant environmental issues. Recent research on geomembranes, geosynthetic clay liners, and composite liners and the practical implications are discussed. The need to design taking account of the interactions between the liner system components is highlighted. Regional differences relating to environmental geotechnics of municipal solid waste and mining waste and the implications of differences in regulations and climate are discussed. The implications for environmental geotechnics associated with recycled materials, waste minimization, and some overarching issues are discussed.

About the presenter

Prof. Kerry Rowe Queens University, Canada

Educated at the University of Sydney  Rowe worked with the Australian Government Department of Construction 8 years prior to immigrating to Canada.  He spent 20 years as a professor at The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. From 2000 to 2010, he served as Vice-Principal (Research) at Queen’s University in Kingston. Since 2010 he has held the Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering at Queen’s where he is also the Barrington Batchelor Distinguished University Professor.  His professional practice and research has covered a broad range of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering including extensive work on geotextiles, geomembranes, geogrids, geonets landfills, ponds, dams as well as reinforced embankments and walls. He is a past President of the International Geosynthetics Society, the Canadian Geotechnical Society and the Engineering Institute of Canada.   He has been selected to present the world’s most prestigious named geotechnical lectures including the Giroud Lecture (2002), Rankine Lecture (2005), Karl Terzaghi Lecture (2017), and Mercer Lecture (2019). In 2013, the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering created a named lecture to honour his pioneering contributions to geoenvironmental engineering, the ISSMGE R. Kerry Rowe Lecture. He has received numerous awards and been elected a Distinguished Member of ASCE (its highest award), Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London, UK), UK Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Canada, and the Canadian Academy of Engineering.  He has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada (O.C.).

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