The USGS issued a press release at the beginning of May highlighting the possibility of accessing USGS topo maps and other USGS imagery on mobile devices such as Android, iPhone and iPad. The USGS is not producing apps, but they are making the data available to developers. They highlight two Android apps using the data:
The most likely candidate for an app for iOS is called Galileo. It sounds like you need to do some legwork before using the apps. They discuss a Java-Based open source project that allows you to create "mobile atlases" on your desktop PC or Mac based on USGS maps at various scales that you can transfer to various mobile apps to take the maps with you on your device for use when you are outside cell phone coverage. The program you need is called Mobile Atlas Creator. There are some basic instructions in the full USGS Press Release. [Source: USGS Press Release via Geology.com. Image: USGS]
TRBâ€™s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) Final Report for NCHRP-IDEA Project 145: Extraction of Layer Properties from Intelligent Compaction Data examines a methodology that was developed to extract layer elastic modulus/stiffness from composite soil stiffness and global positioning system-based location provided by currently available vibratory intelligent compaction rollers.
Dimitrios at Deep Excavation LLC wrote this article a couple of months ago for his monthly newsletter. He contends that for multi-level braced excavations, the AASHTO LRFD code could produce unconservative results. From his article:
The currently adopted design methods for AASHTO (2010) LRFD appear to produce inconsistent and possibly unsafe designs for many multi-level braced excavations. Limit-equilibrium analyses combined with LRFD methods appear to severely underestimate benchmarked wall bending moments. For this reason, analyses in this paper suggest that limit-equilibrium methods should not be used to design the wall bending resistance for multi-level-braced excavations.
A new publication was released from the TRB's NCHRP program on Geofoam Applications in Slope Stability Projects.
TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Results Digest 380: Guidelines for Geofoam Applications in Slope Stability Projects explores the use of expanded polystyrene-block geofoam for slope stabilization projects. For the purpose of the report, slope stabilization projects include new roadways as well as repair of existing roadways that have been damaged by slope instability or slope movement.
I came across this interesting website recently. The Terrainator (is that a nod to Phineas and Ferb?) uses digital elevation model data to create a 3-D model that it can export to a site called Shapeways where it will be created using 3-D printing technology. The standard models are less than 3-inches square and a fraction of an inch tall. The cost is computed based on the amount of material needed to generate the model. This tiny model will run you somewhere in the neighborhood of $30. They recently added the capability to create larger models, but the price goes up to nearly $200 for a model roughly 8 or 9 inches square which seems to be about the max. The screen capture at left is of the US 89 Bitter Springs Landslide area in Northern Arizona. Terrainator has 10m USGS DEM coverage of most of the western US, and coarser coverage of the UK and other areas of Europe. Could make a great gift for a geologist or engineer in your life. But you need to pick someplace with pretty good relief to make it look interesting. [Source: . Image: Shapways.com]
I received an email today from the Arizona Chapter of the Geo-Institute relaying a plea for help from NCEES, the National Council for Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Every 5 years they survey practicing civil engineers for input on their licensing exam questions. Here is what the email said:
We are faced with a problem. The exam is split into two parts. The morning exam is â€œBreadthâ€ and tests for knowledge that all Civil Engineers should know. The afternoon is â€œDepthâ€ and one of the modules is for Geotechnical Engineers. We need valid surveys from 200 Geotechnical Engineers for the survey to be considered valid. We are short about 50 registered Geotechnical Engineers. The survey takes about an hour. Please help if you can.
Users of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013 who are looking for a way to import their geotechnical data into the program will be happy to note that Autodesk has launched a new Geotechnical Module add on as a free download from their subscription center. The add on was created by Keynetix and licensed to Autodesk. The features (straight from the blog post) are:
Importing and connecting to geotechnical data, both AGS and CSV formats
Creating and managing Boreholes in both plan and model space
Creating and managing sub strata surfaces
Producing dynamic profiles and projecting log strips on to them Geotechnical hatch and style management
I stumbled across this great answer to that question from Geotechnical consulting firm Tierra Group International, LTD a geotechnical consulting firm servicing the mining industry:
Mankind lives on the earth. Everything built, either originated from, is built on, or interacts with, the earth. Geology is the science of the earth. Geotechnical Engineering is the application of geology and mathematics to use Earth's natural resources to build infrastructure.
It reminds me of one of my favorite geo-engineering quotes from Richard L. Handy:
Virtually every structure is supported by soil or rock. Those that aren't either fly, float, or fall over.
A thief stole a taxi at knife point in Brookings, Oregon recently, and then tried to escape when a police officer attempted to pull him over in the stolen vehicle. He ignored signs of a road closed due to a landslide, but quickly found out that the signs were no joke as his car collided with the mud, rock and debris from the landslide blocking the road. He was taken into custody without further incident. [Source: KOMO News. Image: komonews.com]
The Central Federal Lands (CFL) division of the FHWA has published a new manual on Geotechnical Asset Management. Here's the abstract:
The purpose of transportation asset management is to meet life-cycle performance goals (safety, mobility, preservation, economics, and environmental aspects) through the management of physical assets in the most cost-effective manner. Geotechnical asset management can be incorporated into the broader practice of transportation asset management. Currently, most agencies manage geotechnical features on the basis of "worstfirst" conditions, reacting to failures and incurring significant safety, mobility, environmental, and intangible costs. The goal of geotechnical asset management is to implement project planning and selection on the basis of "most-at-risk" for the asset class with consideration of collective and site specific risks throughout the life cycle. Geotechnical features that can affect the performance of a transportation system include retaining walls, unstable slopes, rockfall sites, embankments, and tunnels. These features can be treated as physical assets of the system and managed like other assets of the system. While not every geotechnical feature exists in agency, those that do can be combined into a single asset class to simplify asset management procedures. Although likely on the high end of expectation, some studies indicate a life-cycle cost savings of up to 60 to 80 percent after the implementation of geotechnical asset management. The geotechnical asset management plan should be based on agency performance goals and integrate risk and life-cycle analysis. It is important to note geotechnical asset management will only be successful when all features that create risk are included. Risk management allows for the probability and consequences of events to be evaluated, which is essential for the integration with agency performance goals. Federal Land Management Agencies can implement geotechnical asset management with a relatively modest investment and using existing resources to assess geotechnical features in a multi-tier, riskbased approach. There is an agency cost associated with inaction on geotechnical asset management.