I arrived in beautiful San Diego, California today for the ASCE Geo-Institute Geo-Congress 2013 conference. It’s being held at the Town and Country Resort and Hotel located on Hotel Circle, and it’s not the typical conference venue.
The facility has a sprawling feel, with some single story, almost casita-like hotel room buildings mixed with several more conventional hotel towers. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, making the walks between the hotel room and conference venues very relaxing and enjoyable. The smells are out of this world too, jasmine or honeysuckle I think. (Photo Credit: Town and Country)
Tonight was the first of the keynote addresses, the H. Bolton Seed Lecture by Dr. Stephen G. Wright of the University of Texas at Austin. The theme for the conference is “Stability and Performance of Slopes and Embankments III”. The III references the historic 1966 and 1992 conferences on the same topic. So who better to kick off the conference on this topic than Professor Wright, the author of the UTEXAS slope stability program and one of the preeminent experts on the topic?
I won’t share too much about this first lecture, mainly because I know I won’t have the time and/or fortitude to write much about all of the other amazing keynote lecturers lined up this week. But I will mention the key points from his lecture. He relayed two things that he said he learned from Professor Seed. One, he said that before you even start working on a slope stability problem (or maybe geotechnical problem in general) you should already know what is a reasonable answer. His second main point was something he said Seed would always emphasize, that you must know and remember your soil mechanics. Seems simple enough, right?
He showed several examples of slope stability problems, emphasizing how these two important tenets apply. He noted that in addition to the UTEXAS program, the two industry-standard slope stability programs in use are SLOPE/W by Geo-Slope and Slide by Rocscience. And he noted that if you are analyzing the same problem and doing it correctly, these programs should give you the same answer when performing limit equilibrium slope stability analyses. If you come up with different answers, chances are you are not analyzing the same problem.
He provided a few cautions about the software packages and some default settings and tolerances that may not always work in certain circumstances. One of his important summary points that is important for practitioners is that you must always check your work, and that it is not practical to perform hand-calculations or even spreadsheet calculations for checking the slope stability calculations, so you must use another program to check the first.
Things are just getting rolling here in San Diego. Stay tuned to GeoPrac and our twitter and Facebook streams for all of the latest happenings. And if you want even more coverage, check out the live blogging that Geoengineer.org is doing. This is the type of thing you see at tech conferences, but kudos to Dimitrios (and Marietta!) at Geoengineer.org for bring it to Geo-Congress!