Geologic Hazards

Landslide on Arizona SR 87 Closes Highway

On March 21, 2008 a landslide caused the closure of Arizona State Route 87 between Payson and Phoenix near mile post 224. So far there are no official estimates as to the size, but based on aerial photos, it appears to be at least 50,000 sq-ft in plan. The offset at the head scarps was approximately 2-meters (6.6-ft) according to AZGS Geologists on site. It appears to have been a rotational slide as the toe of the landslide heaved the southbound roadway up by as much as 1-meter (3.3 ft). There was an existing soil-nail retaining wall on the slope that was destroyed by the slide as well.  Lateral deformations can be seen in photos of the median barrier and the roadway striping. The deformations extended into the northbound lanes as well. More photos and links after the break. (Photo by ADOT)

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Rockman's Ramblings

Future Geo Engineer

Regular readers of GeoPrac are probably used to the sporadic nature of my blogging. Sometimes I add entries a couple times a week, sometimes once a week. But I wanted everyone to know why I haven’t posted in a while and why it may be kind of sporadic for the next few weeks as well.

My second daughter, Michaela (Makayla), was born on Thursday, March 13. I’ve been enjoying time at home with my family, helping my wife get adjusted to the prospect of two kids around the house! Thanks for your patience. I’m hoping that by next week’s 1-year anniversary of GeoPrac.net I’ll have a chance to write about "the state of the union" so to speak and talk a little about my goals for the site in the coming year. Thanks to all you loyal readers for sticking with me! — Randy (rockman) 

 

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Geologic Hazards

Landslide Blocks Road in LA, Inconveniences UCLA Hoops Fans

Mud and debris from a small landslide closed a portion of Sepulveda Blvrd. In Westwood California on Thursday. The slide took out at  least one local resident’s backyard and was large enough to block several lanes of the roadway with debris up to 6-ft high in addition to knocking out several power poles and disrupting service. The material was cleared up by 10pm but not before it cause some inconvenience to UCLA basketball fans on their way to watch their team beat Stanford. The LA Times reports that there were questions about possible broken water lines, of course it is the old "chicken or the egg" argument that’s been seen before (including on a recent landslide) about whether the broken water lines contributed to the landslide, or the landslide caused the water line breaks. (Photo by Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

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Project Related

Utah Company has 7 Western-US Geothermal Projects Under Development

Utah-based Raser Technologies has started development of two additional geothermal projects which will bring the total number of projects under development to seven. There are three projects in Nevada, two in Utah, one in New Mexico, and one in Oregon. The company has initiated approximately 75 MW of geothermal projects since April of 2007. By 2011 they plan to initiate 150 MW of projects per year. Links after the break. (Photo copyright Raser Technologies, Inc.)

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Standards and Codes

Changes in Geotechnical Engineering Practice in Arizona

[Editor] Note: NCS Consultants, LLC is Randy Post’s full time employer…ie. my day job! [/Editor]

There are some significant changes being made to the state of the practice in geotechnical engineering in Arizona. NCS Consultants, LLC has prepared three policy memoranda for the Arizona Department of Transportation or ADOT that have been issued to consultants all over the State. These memos are on the topics of bearing capacity and settlement of spread footings and retaining walls, the design of drilled shaft foundations in gravelly soils, and the preparation of drilled shaft axial capacity charts for use by bridge engineers.

Although primarily applicable to upcoming ADOT projects implementing the AASHTO 2007 LRFD code, the memos will have a ripple effect down through other local agencies within the state who frequently defer to ADOT guidelines for geotechnical engineering. Also, the memos and the ADOT/NCS approach to LRFD implementation in geotechnical engineering were presented by NCS at the 2008 TRB Conference in Washington D.C., and many other state DOTs and the FHWA were very excited about the memos. The approach used if not the exact content may become a model for other agencies. More info and links to download the policy memoranda are provided after the break.

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Available Resources

February Update of Google Earth Imagery

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found Google Earth to be a very useful tool in my practice. Whether it is scoping out a site I’ve never seen before or creating a boring location plan or other figure for a report. Feel the same way? Then you might be interested in some recent (February 19, 2008) updates to Google Imagery and other data. Higher resolution images are always welcome! Comprehensive list after the break. 

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Miscellaneous

Geological Engineering Major Eliminated at University of Arizona

[Editor’s Note] I am an alumn of the U of A’s Geological Engineering program, so this hits me in a sentimental spot. [/Editor’s Note]

A proposal submitted by Mary Poulton (Mining and Geological Engineering Department Head) and Jeff Goldberg (Associate Dean of College of Engineering) was submitted to the University of Arizona Faculty Senate to eliminate the geological engineering undergraduate major and merge the degree with Mining Engineering. The proposal was accepted by the Senate this week despite the efforts of Dr. Ben Sternberg who attended the hearing. The geological engineering degree will be combined with the mining engineering degree. The new degree will be a B.S. in Mining and Geological Engineering and there will be a mining engineering track and a geological engineering track. Budget cuts and small enrollment were the main reasons cited for the elimination of the degree. Read on for more. (Photo by Jacob Rader)

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Standards and Codes

AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications – 2008 Interims Released

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) just released the 2008 interims for the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications, Customary U.S. Units, 4th Edition. These specifications govern the design of foundations for federal and state highway projects. As soon as we find out if there are any significant changes with respect to bridge foundations or retaining walls, we’ll let you know.

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Regional

New Dams Being Considered to Handle West’s Water Needs

An article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer discusses how the era of building massive dams that ended in the late 1960s with the completion of Glen Canyon Dam may be on its way to a resurgence because of booming populations throughout the west and a desperate need for water. This comes at a time when the USBR and other agencies are in the process of tearing down some dams. Of course the environmental hurdles and opposition to new dam projects will likely kill many of the projects before they get started. But in the absence of any kind of limits on population growth, there may not be many other options. Read on to see where major dam projects are being considered. (Photo by Molas)

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