Sydney Symposium 2022

Reliability-based Design: Advances, Innovation and Experiences

Keynote/Invited Speakers: Kok-Kwang Phoon, Jinsong Huang, Dr. Richard Kelly, Dr. Luis Fernando Contreras, Majidreza Nazem, Prof. Mark Jaksa and Ramtin Tajeddin

The Australian Geomechanics Society (AGS) Sydney Chapter is holding its 26th annual symposium on Friday 11 November 2022, ‘Reliability-based Design: Advances, Innovation and Experiences‘.

The symposium forms part of the continuing program of events organised by the AGS Sydney Chapter. It aims to encourage ideas and discussions about one of the key aspects of design which is becoming more prevalent in industry and academia.


The symposium will showcase state-of-the-art practices, new research findings and case histories that demonstrate reliability-based designs and assessments. The organising committee invites papers on reliability-based approaches covering various aspects of site investigations, interpretations, designs, specialised testing and technologies.

The symposium presents an opportunity for professional engineers, researchers, specialist contractors, regulators, educators and students to meet and share their knowledge and experiences in geotechnical engineering.

Important Dates & Submission

Abstracts must be submitted by 17 May 2022, with papers to be completed by 22 July 2022. All papers will be peer reviewed and should be submitted in the Australian Geomechanics journal format.

The final version of the papers, after addressing any reviewers’ comments, must be submitted by 7 October 2022.

All abstracts and papers should be sent to Puvaneswary Rajarathnam via [email protected]

By submitting a paper for the symposium, the author(s) are giving permission for the AGS to publish the paper in the proceedings and other AGS national publications.


What sponsorship will do for you

Benefits of sponsorship

Further Information

To apply to be a sponsor, or for further information about sponsorship opportunities, view the Call for Sponsors flyer, or contact Saman Zargarbashi via [email protected]


8:00 – 8:45: Registration
8:45 – 9:00: Opening Address

Session 1: Reliability-Based Design (RBD) – Australian Practice

9:00 – 9:35: Keynote lecture (Prof Phoon – Top 5 Questions on Reliability-Based Design)
9:35 – 9:55: Ramtin Tajeddin (Reliability Based Design: An Australian Experience)
9:55 – 10:15: Dr. Richard Kelly (Potential Use of AS5104 For Reliability Based Design)
10:15 – 10:30: Q&A
10:30 – 11:00: Morning Tea

Session 2: Applications of RBD in Site Investigation and Design

11:00 – 11:20: Prof Mark Jaksa (Optimising Site Investigations Using Monte Carlo Analysis and Genetic Algorithms)
11:20 – 11:40: Michael Crisp (Extending Finite Element Software with Python for Sensitivity Analysis and the Random Finite Element Method)
11:40 – 12:00: AProf Majidreza Nazem (Application of Machine Learning Methods in Estimating Soil Properties from Dynamic Penetration Tests)
12:00 – 12:15: Q&A
12:15 – 13:30: Lunch

Session 3: Applications of RBD in Stability and Settlement Assessment

13:30 – 14:05: Keynote Lecture (Prof Jinsong – Apply Probabilistic Methods for Slope Stability Analysis)
14:05 – 14:25: Behzad Fahati (Random Field and Monte Carlo Based Reliability Assessment for Time-Dependent Settlement of Low Embankments on Soft Soils Considering Creep)
14:25 – 14:45: Lachlan Dunbar (A Case Study of an Impact Assessment of an Excavation in the
Sydney CBD, Adopting Industry Guidance for Numerical Modelling)
14:45 – 15:00: Q&A
15:00 – 15:30: Afternoon Tea

Session 4: Applications of RBD in Dams and Mining

15:30 – 15:50: Dr. Luis-Fernando Contreras (Bayesian Analysis of Consolidation of a Tailings Storage Facility)
15:50 – 16:10: Leon Frylinck (Cognitive Biases and Their Influence on Project Outcomes – A Mining Case Study)
16:10 – 16:20: Q&A
16:20 – 16:40: Closing Remarks
16:40 – 17:40: Drinks and Canapés
17:40: Close

Organising Committee

Keynote/Invited Speakers

Kok-Kwang Phoon Cheng Tsang Man Chair Professor, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)

“Top 5 questions on reliability-based design”


Kok-Kwang Phoon is Cheng Tsang Man Chair Professor and Provost, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). He obtained his BEng and MEng from the National University of Singapore and his PhD from Cornell University. Prof Phoon is particularly interested in developing statistical and other data-driven methods to support decision making in geotechnical engineering. He has edited 3 books and authored 1 book: Model Uncertainties in Foundation Design (CRC Press, 2021). He was bestowed the ASCE Norman Medal twice in 2005 and 2020, and the Humboldt Research Award in 2017, among many others. He is the Founding Editor of Georisk and past Chair of ISSMGE TC304. He was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Engineering Singapore in 2012.


Reliability-based design (RBD) is widely practiced in the structural engineering community as exemplified by ISO2394:2015 “General Principles on Reliability for Structures” (4th Edition). In geotechnical engineering, practice is less uniform with RBD adopted in North America, Japan, and the Netherlands, the partial factor approach adopted in Europe, and the global factor of safety adopted elsewhere. The purpose of this paper is to address 5 questions on geotechnical RBD that is commonly posed by practitioners:

  1. What is RBD?
  2. How does it work, particularly in the form of the Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD)?
  3. How to get statistics from limited data?
  4. How to select the target reliability index?
  5. Why bother?

Jinsong Huang Professor, PhD, M.ASCE, Discipline of Civil, Surveying and Environmental Engineering, Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical Science and Engineering, The University of Newcastle

“Apply Probabilistic methods for slope stability analysis”


Jinsong Huang is a professor at the Priority Research Centre for Geotechnical Science and Engineering, the University of Newcastle. His research interests include risk assessment in geotechnical engineering and computational geomechanics. He has published over 100 journal papers on the risk assessment of slope stability and landslides, the modelling of spatial variability, stress integration techniques for elastoplastic models, the contact dynamics of granular media, the analysis of hydraulic fracturing and the predictive maintenance of railway tracks. He received a Regional Contribution Award from the International Association of Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics at its international conference in Kyoto in 2014 and the GEOSNet Award from the Geotechnical Safety Network in 2017. He will serve as the conference chair of the 8th International Symposium on Geotechnical Safety and Risk to be held at the University of Newcastle in December 2022.


Slope stability analysis is a branch of geotechnical engineering that is highly amenable to probabilistic treatment, and has received considerable attention in the literature. This paper tries to demonstrate how probabilistic methods can be applied to slope stability analysis. The probabilistic methods used in this paper range from simple First Order Second Moment method (FOSM), First Order Reliability Method (FORM) and Monte Carlo Simulations (MCS) to more advanced Random Finite Element Method (RFEM). The importance of considering the spatial variability of soil properties in slope stability analysis is highlighted by comparing these methods. The paper also demonstrates how to use Response Surface Method (RSM) to improve the computational efficiency in probabilistic slope stability analysis.

Dr. Richard Kelly Chief Technical Principal for Geotechnical Engineering and General Manager of Technical Excellence, SMEC

“Potential Use of AS5104 For Reliability Based Design”


Richard is Chief Technical Principal for Geotechnical Engineering and General Manager of Technical Excellence at SMEC.  Richard has over 25 years experience as a consultant and academic.  Richard became interested in reliability concepts while on sabbatical at the University of Newcastle, working with Prof Jinsong Huang.  Richard has collaborated with Jinsong on Bayesian updating, prediction of consolidation settlement, stochastic pile capacity and structural reliability of solar farm foundations.

Dr. Luis Fernando Contreras PhD, FIEAust, CPEng (Civil and Geotechnical Engineering), NER, RPEQ

“Bayesian analysis of consolidation of a tailings storage facility”


Luis-Fernando Contreras is a Civil Engineer with more than 40 years of experience in the field of geotechnical engineering. His expertise includes risk evaluation studies for mine design and project optimisation, tunnel engineering and geotechnical design for civil and mining projects. He has worked throughout his career on over 80 geotechnical engineering projects in South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Australia. Recently, he completed research on Bayesian methods to treat geotechnical uncertainty in slope design as part of a PhD program at the University of Queensland. He currently works as an Associate Principal Consultant for SRK Consulting in Brisbane.

Majidreza Nazem

“Application of machine learning methods in estimating soil properties from dynamic penetration tests”


Majid’s research work focuses on solving problems associated with design and analysis of onshore and offshore infrastructure and concerns the fields of computational mechanics and geomechanics, geotechnical engineering, ocean engineering, and transport engineering. His research areas include finite element methods, meshless analysis methods, artificial intelligence, and their application in geomechanics and transport.

Prof. Mark Jaksa Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering, University of Adelaide

“Optimising Site Investigations Using Monte Carlo Analysis and Genetic Algorithms”


Mark Jaksa is Professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He has been an academic for more than 30 years, before which, he spent 4 years practising as a consulting geotechnical and civil engineer in Adelaide and Canberra in Australia. He has a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree in Civil Engineering and a PhD, both from the University of Adelaide.

He has published more than 200 papers, chapters and reports on various aspects of geotechnical engineering research and teaching. His primary areas of expertise are in the characterisation of the spatial variability of soils, probabilistic analyses, artificial intelligence, ground improvement, unsaturated soils and enhancing learning in geotechnical engineering. He has received several awards recognising his contributions to learning and teaching in geotechnical engineering.

Mark is a former Chair of the Australian Geomechanics Society and immediate past Vice-President for Australasia and Treasurer of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering. He is also a past Chair of the ISSMGE’s Technical Committee, TC306, on Geo-engineering Education and a member of TC304, on Risk Assessment and Management.

Ramtin Tajeddin GHD

“Reliability Based Design: An Australian Experience”


Ramtin Tajeddin has 27 years’ experience in geotechnical investigation, design and construction support of civil infrastructures (roads, rails, bridges, ports and buildings), mining infrastructures, coastal and hydraulic structures, water and tailing dam engineering.  His recent works include geotechnical design lead for reference design of Melbourne’s North East Link and technical advisor to Westgate Tunnel Authority, Major Road Projects Victoria and Department of State Growth (Tasmania). Ramtin has particular interest in risk and reliability based design of soil-structures and advocates for official inclusion of this design method in Australian Standards and states’ technical specifications and requirements.


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