Reasons for the Changes

As I said, the software running the site needed upgrading. I use the Joomla content management system, it’s quite a bit more complex than WordPress or other blogging platforms. Anyway, it was a major upgrade and it was long overdue. It involved installing the entire site (somewhere around 8,000 files plus a large database) on a testing server, finding updates to the various modules, plugins and other features and getting it all working. Then I pulled in the news, articles, weblinks, comments etc. from the live site. Finally, there was the scary moment of deleting the old files on the live site and uploading the new ones. Actually that scary moment took me three tries to get it to work! There are quite a few other steps I didn’ mention in there, but you get the idea. Since you’re reading this, I guess everything must have worked!

Cosmetic Changes

So the theme I was using for the old site wasn’t automatically compatible with the new version of the software. Since I had to pay to download the updated version of the theme anyway, I decided to check out some other ones and found one I liked. I really like the ability to have some featured content at the top, and the module I’m using to highlight the technical articles. It also has a cool module for video content which I hope to take advantage of at a later time.

New Features

I’ll write some additional posts later about a couple of new features and other changes. There are two major ones that I’m particularly excited about: the new GeoThreads section and the addition of locations for sponsor’s banners.

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New Feature – GeoThreads

I made a conscious decision when creating to NOT include a forum or bulletin board. I feel that with my technical skills and using one of the excellent open source products out there I could have done a nice job of integrating it into the site in a way that is not done on similar sites in our field…but I had to ask myself why? The main reasons I decided against it are that a forum is only as good as the people using (and moderating) it and after I found out how much time was invoved in just keeping fresh content on, I didn’t want to have to moderate and reply to posts on top of that. That’s why I have instead chosen to promote the forums at and in the Geotechnical Section at Up to this point, there has not been much promoting involved…hopefully GeoThreads will change that

Check out GeoThreads!

With the new GeoThreads feature on, you can view the forum threads on topics such as foundation engineering, slope stability, site investigations, geophysics, laboratory testing and more right here in one place. Quickly scan the thread title and a short introduction to find items that interest you and jump directly into the thread at the forums at, or other related sites to view the full post and subsequent replies! As a bonus feature, the “Hot GeoThreads” module will show up on the left side of the site (currently near the bottom) with a list of the 10 most replied to threads started in the past month so you can see what topics have the geo-community buzzing.

I built these applications with extensive use of Yahoo! Pipes and a custom designed caching system that runs on a set schedule. Because of the reliance on Pipes, I can’t guarantee the freshness of the info, but in my testing, it’s typically updated within 1-2 hours. I also don’t want to make the site owners mad by straining their server, so I won’t be releasing RSS versions of this info. Hopefully between my caching mechanisms and those of Yahoo! Pipes it will be minimal negative impact and increased traffic coming from GeoPrac.

Remembering Geology Fieldcamp

Castle Rock, Utah I had a wild hair the other day. I was remembering back to my geology fieldcamp class I took one summer, thinking it had been around 10 years since I went…but I couldn’t remember exactly when. I picked up my old field notebook, and sure enough, it was 10 years ago June. That was a great time, and a class unlike any other.

It was pre-session at the U of A, the two weeks between the spring semester and the first summer school session. We packed up our camping gear and took off in a massive convoy of suburbans, passenger vans, cargo vans and even one Ryder truck with gear in it. We made our way to Northern Arizona with a few stops along the way.

Lecture at the North Rim Our first night was spent at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The next day, I had the single most memorable lecture of my college career. Sitting there at one of the vista points at the North Rim, Peter DeCelles stood there with a flipchart and lectured about the stratigraphy of the Grand Canyon, and it formed the basis for the mapping we would be doing for the next two weeks in the so-called Colorado Plateau geologic province of Northern Arizona, Southern Utah and Western Colorado…God’s Country for certain.

View all of the photos in a Flickr slideshow.

We spent the most of our time based out of the Moab area of Utah. Actually we were just outside of Castle Valley, at the footslopes of the LaSal Mountains. We spent a lot of time in the car going to and from field sites, but I’ve forgotten most of those lousy memories in the last 10 years and I only remember the hard work, beautiful scenery and good company.

Looking over Castle ValleyOur days consisted of geologic mapping at various locations. We would load up our pack in the morning, hike around a dozen miles, using our trusty rock hammer and brunton compass to measure bedding orientations and fault orientations and put them on our map. We got back to camp late in the afternoon, but our work wasn’t over. We had to clean up our maps and get them ready to hand in. Frequently we had to prepare cross-sectional sketches of the area with our interpretation of how the different rock layers were transformed by faulting, folding and erosion…God’s paintbrushes. When it got dark, the lanterns and flashlights came out and we kept working. Fortunately we didn’t have to cook, although we all took turns with KP duty helping the camp cook with prep work and with cleanup.

Randy at Sunset in camp In addition to our regular mapping assignments, we also had some independent mapping exercises that were kind of like exams. We wouldn’t be allowed to talk with any of our colleagues, and we had the day to map an entire area and turn in a completed (and correct) map and cross section. I wish I still had some of my maps, I don’t even remember what they looked like. But they kept everything because they didn’t want the next year’s students to get a hold of them. I do still have my field notebook of course with a few sketches, notes, and strike and dip measurements.

Shaving in my brunton compass

It was incredibly hard work but I was amazed that my body actually got used to all of the hiking. Being out in the field in that beautiful country reminded me of why I picked geological engineering as a major in the first place. I still get energized by my time in the field, at least on the more interesting projects. I can’t say that I have spent any time creating a geologic map, but I have used those skills for scanline surveys and cell mapping among other things. And we have had projects with some limited mapping components. But it did teach me how to think in three dimensions, how to take in a site while you’re standing out there in the field, and how to shave using my Brunton!


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Top 50 GeoPrac Content Items of 2008 Q2

  1. Highway Cut Slopes in Rock: Specialized Excavation and Enhancement Techniques – Published 08/28/2007 (50.58 hits/day, 6,925 total page impressions)
  2. Sea-Tac Runway Nearing Completion – Published 06/30/2008 (38.05 hits/day, 10 total page impressions)
  3. 7 Amazing Holes – Published 02/11/2008 (32.63 hits/day, 5,128 total page impressions)
  4. Wind Turbine Foundations and Massive Off-Shore Turbines – Published 06/29/2008 (29.55 hits/day, 34 total page impressions)
  5. 380,000 Jobs Now in Jeopardy Because Congress Fails To Rescue America’s Transportation Account – Published 06/30/2008 (21.05 hits/day, 18 total page impressions)
  6. Yucca Mountain Moving Forward – Published 06/05/2008 (19.16 hits/day, 495 total page impressions)
  7. VBA and Excel for Engineers and Scientists – Part 2 – Published 05/20/2008 (18.36 hits/day, 755 total page impressions)
  8. Top 50 GeoPrac Content Items of 2008 Q1 – Published 05/14/2008 (18.11 hits/day, 866 total page impressions)
  9. New Tunnel Project In Peru Through Andes – Published 05/30/2008 (17.88 hits/day, 569 total page impressions)
  10. Devil’s Slide Tunnel – Project Updates and Geotechnical Info – Published 06/10/2008 (15.81 hits/day, 320 total page impressions)
  11. New Publications from Transportation Research Board – Published 04/30/2007 (14.13 hits/day, 2,050 total page impressions)
  12. Problems with Registration and Outside News and Blogs – Published 01/22/2008 (13.05 hits/day, 1,871 total page impressions)
  13. Continuing Problems for Ohio Landfill – Published 05/06/2008 (12.26 hits/day, 678 total page impressions)
  14. The Claremont Tunnel – Designed to Survive Fault Rupture on the Hayward Fault – Published 06/24/2008 (11.84 hits/day, 76 total page impressions)
  15. Transient Stability Analyses with SLOPE/W 2007 – Published 05/28/2008 (9.70 hits/day, 324 total page impressions)
  16. Embankment Dams in Earth Fissure Risk Zones-a Regulator’s Dilemma – Published 09/27/2007 (9.48 hits/day, 2,766 total page impressions)
  17. LRFD for Bridge Substructure Design, Note 1 – Published 04/23/2007 (9.05 hits/day, 2,319 total page impressions)
  18. VBA and Excel for Engineers and Scientists – Published 04/05/2007 (8.95 hits/day, 2,199 total page impressions)
  19. – New Geotechnical Search Engine! – Published 06/18/2008 (8.56 hits/day, 105 total page impressions)
  20. Ohio DOT to use EQuIS for Geotechnical Data Management – Published 06/25/2008 (8.27 hits/day, 43 total page impressions)
  21. Drilled Shaft Industry Notes – Published 07/15/2007 (8.26 hits/day, 1,255 total page impressions)
  22. Allegations: Oregon Not Forthcoming With Landslide Hazard Information – Published 01/25/2008 (8.02 hits/day, 1,267 total page impressions)
  23. AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications – 2008 Interims Released – Published 03/04/2008 (7.66 hits/day, 883 total page impressions)
  24. RSS Feeds – Published 02/13/2007 (7.52 hits/day, 1,355 total page impressions)
  25. gINT Professional Software Explained – Published 06/25/2007 (7.26 hits/day, 1,772 total page impressions)
  26. GEO-STUDIO Software Update 7.11 – Published 05/21/2008 (7.22 hits/day, 295 total page impressions)
  27. Landslide on Arizona SR 87 Closes Highway – Published 03/27/2008 (7.18 hits/day, 802 total page impressions)
  28. 27 Years Ago: Bizarre Drilling Disaster at Lake Peigneur – Published 11/21/2007 (7.09 hits/day, 2,393 total page impressions)
  29. Future Geo Engineer – Published 03/19/2008 (6.90 hits/day, 696 total page impressions)
  30. Update on Landmark Kansas City Bridge Project – kcICON – Published 06/18/2008 (6.84 hits/day, 84 total page impressions)
  31. TenCate opens new factory in China for the growing geosynthetic market – Published 06/16/2008 (6.80 hits/day, 97 total page impressions)
  32. Sidoarjo Mud Volcano 2 year Anniversary – Published 05/30/2008 (6.69 hits/day, 213 total page impressions)
  33. Dr. Jorj O. Osterberg – In Memorium – Published 06/03/2008 (6.63 hits/day, 182 total page impressions)
  34. Updated – DFI Committee Looking for Soil Nail Data – Published 06/24/2008 (6.46 hits/day, 44 total page impressions)
  35. The Ultimate Geotechnical Engineering Challenge – Published 05/29/2007 (6.40 hits/day, 2,098 total page impressions)
  36. North America’s Tallest MSE Retaining Wall – Published 01/09/2008 (6.34 hits/day, 1,727 total page impressions)
  37. German town sinking after drilling operations – Published 02/25/2008 (6.32 hits/day, 1,478 total page impressions)
  38. LRFD for Bridge Substructure Design, Note 2 – Published 06/21/2007 (6.29 hits/day, 1,853 total page impressions)
  39. Embeded Google Earth in Web Pages – Published 05/30/2008 (6.22 hits/day, 198 total page impressions)
  40. ADSC 2008 Faculty Workshop Wrapup – Published 06/18/2008 (5.94 hits/day, 73 total page impressions)
  41. New Report – Geosynthetics in Civil Engineering – Published 04/06/2007 (5.92 hits/day, 923 total page impressions)
  42. TBM Stuck on Pittsburgh North Short Connector Project – Published 04/28/2008 (5.86 hits/day, 371 total page impressions)
  43. AMEC To Acquire Specialist U.S. Environmental and Geotechnical Consultancy – Published 06/05/2008 (5.80 hits/day, 150 total page impressions)
  44. New DT80G and DT85G Geotechnical Data Loggers – Published 06/16/2008 (5.74 hits/day, 82 total page impressions)
  45. Arizona Geologic Survey Releases Earth Fissure Maps – Published 04/24/2008 (5.66 hits/day, 381 total page impressions)
  46. New Sheet Piling Installation Manual – Published 02/28/2008 (5.63 hits/day, 683 total page impressions)
  47. Drilled shaft rig falls into hole – Iowa – Published 06/03/2008 (5.53 hits/day, 154 total page impressions)
  48. Sichuan Earthquake Update – Published 05/21/2008 (5.53 hits/day, 226 total page impressions)
  49. Chaiten Volcano, Chile – Published 05/13/2008 (5.53 hits/day, 267 total page impressions)
  50. Famed Hole In Danger of Collapse – Published 02/11/2008 (5.49 hits/day, 730 total page impressions)
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Top 50 GeoPrac Content Items of 2008 Q1

  1. 7 Amazing Holes – Published 02/11/2008 (42.68 hits/day, 2,257 total page impressions)
  2. German town sinking after drilling operations – Published 02/25/2008 (23.69 hits/day, 922 total page impressions)
  3. Landslide on Arizona SR 87 Closes Highway – Published 03/27/2008 (23.43 hits/day, 170 total page impressions)
  4. 27 Years Ago: Bizarre Drilling Disaster at Lake Peigneur – Published 11/21/2007 (19.03 hits/day, 1,769 total page impressions)
  5. Highway Cut Slopes in Rock: Specialized Excavation and Enhancement Techniques – Published 08/28/2007 (16.78 hits/day, 2,475 total page impressions)
  6. North America’s Tallest MSE Retaining Wall – Published 01/09/2008 (13.72 hits/day, 1,169 total page impressions)
  7. Finland’s Nuclear Waste Storage Plans – Published 04/01/2008 (13.09 hits/day, 38 total page impressions)
  8. GeoPrac Turns One! – Published 04/03/2008 (12.32 hits/day, 11 total page impressions)
  9. Personal Reflections on I-35 Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis – Published 01/17/2008 (10.67 hits/day, 831 total page impressions)
  10. More Free Online Journal Access from Springer – Published 11/21/2007 (10.15 hits/day, 944 total page impressions)
  11. Massive Landslide in B.C. Triggers Tsunami in Lake – Published 12/12/2007 (10.07 hits/day, 936 total page impressions)
  12. Problems with Registration and Outside News and Blogs – Published 01/22/2008 (9.99 hits/day, 723 total page impressions)
  13. Landslide at Traunsee Lake in Austria – Published 12/04/2007 (9.20 hits/day, 855 total page impressions)
  14. Geological Engineering Major Eliminated at University of Arizona – Published 03/05/2008 (9.16 hits/day, 269 total page impressions)
  15. Man Killed In Drilling Accident – Published 11/21/2007 (9.13 hits/day, 849 total page impressions)
  16. Kilauea Volcano: Examining Hazards from Latest Redirected Flow Event – Published 12/03/2007 (9.10 hits/day, 846 total page impressions)
  17. Ralph B. Peck: 1912 – 2008 – Published 02/20/2008 (9.06 hits/day, 394 total page impressions)
  18. Free Online Access to Natural Hazards Journal – Published 11/01/2007 (8.97 hits/day, 1,127 total page impressions)
  19. $180 Million Settlement in Reservoir Failure – Published 12/04/2007 (8.92 hits/day, 829 total page impressions)
  20. MSEW Update 8.1 from Adama Software – Published 12/19/2007 (8.66 hits/day, 805 total page impressions)
  21. Most Popular Content of 2007 – Published 01/02/2008 (8.60 hits/day, 799 total page impressions)
  22. Lawmakers Step Up To Address Dangerous Dams – Published 11/21/2007 (8.39 hits/day, 780 total page impressions)
  23. City of Vancouver sues over failed shoring – Published 01/06/2008 (8.27 hits/day, 735 total page impressions)
  24. ASCE Geo-Institute Reports on Trends Affecting the Geo-Community – Published 12/19/2007 (8.17 hits/day, 760 total page impressions)
  25. IPET Risk Maps Released in June for New Orleans Are CORRECT – Published 12/03/2007 (8.17 hits/day, 760 total page impressions)
  26. Boston’s Big Dig Finally Complete – Published 01/04/2008 (8.14 hits/day, 735 total page impressions)
  27. Allegations: Oregon Not Forthcoming With Landslide Hazard Information – Published 01/25/2008 (8.14 hits/day, 561 total page impressions)
  28. La Jolla Landslide Update – Remediation and Legal Affairs – Published 12/03/2007 (7.97 hits/day, 741 total page impressions)
  29. Utah Releases Landslide Susceptibility Map – Published 01/09/2008 (7.90 hits/day, 674 total page impressions)
  30. Nevada’s Yucca Mountain Case Versus DOE Thrown Out – Published 12/14/2007 (7.89 hits/day, 734 total page impressions)
  31. Drilling to Save Aswan Obelisk Quarry – Published 12/03/2007 (7.88 hits/day, 733 total page impressions)
  32. Anderson Drilling Delivers Trump Towers in Las Vegas – Published 11/21/2007 (7.86 hits/day, 731 total page impressions)
  33. ASCE: Cease and Desist over Video Spoof – Published 11/19/2007 (7.86 hits/day, 731 total page impressions)
  34. Java Mud Volcano: Economic Damages Estimated $8.6 Billion – Published 11/29/2007 (7.85 hits/day, 730 total page impressions)
  35. Load Test For New I-35W Bridge – Published 11/27/2007 (7.80 hits/day, 725 total page impressions)
  36. NOAA, USGS Warning System to Help Protect Southern Californians from Debris Flows and Flash Floods – Published 12/03/2007 (7.73 hits/day, 719 total page impressions)
  37. New White Paper on Earth Fissures – Published 12/14/2007 (7.71 hits/day, 717 total page impressions)
  38. Officially Launches! – Published 04/05/2007 (7.59 hits/day, 706 total page impressions)
  39. Second Issue of International Journal of Geoengineering Case Histories – Published 01/17/2008 (7.55 hits/day, 588 total page impressions)
  40. 54 Dams Slated for Removal in 2007 – Published 12/03/2007 (7.53 hits/day, 700 total page impressions)
  41. URS Completes $3.1 Billion Buyout – Published 11/19/2007 (7.42 hits/day, 690 total page impressions)
  42. Geosynthetics at De-Icing Facitility – Published 01/15/2008 (7.35 hits/day, 587 total page impressions)
  43. Louder drilling to occur as I-35W bridge foundation work nears completion – Published 01/17/2008 (7.30 hits/day, 566 total page impressions)
  44. ReSSA Major Update and MSEW Update – Published 02/05/2008 (7.23 hits/day, 422 total page impressions)
  45. Italy to use UAV to Monitor Volcano – Published 11/16/2007 (7.09 hits/day, 659 total page impressions)
  46. More Movement on La Jolla Landslide – Published 01/20/2008 (7.08 hits/day, 524 total page impressions)
  47. AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications – 2008 Interims Released – Published 03/04/2008 (6.90 hits/day, 209 total page impressions)
  48. VBA and Excel for Engineers and Scientists – Published 04/05/2007 (6.84 hits/day, 1,412 total page impressions)
  49. Digital Mapping Duopoly – Published 01/15/2008 (6.84 hits/day, 546 total page impressions)
  50. LRFD for Bridge Substructure Design, Note 1 – Published 04/23/2007 (6.61 hits/day, 1,523 total page impressions)
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