Geotechnical Society of Edmonton

NEWS 2015

Posted October 2, 2014 (Updated April 8, 2015)

Event: May 7, 2015

GSE 2015 AGM: Dr. James Mitchell, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Virginia Tech - "Lessons from the Lives of Two Dams"

Location: Saskatchewan Room, Faculty Club, University of Alberta (11435 Saskatchewan Drive)

Time: 5:30pm Registration, 6:00pm Dinner, 6:45pm AGM and Presentation

Cost: $35 Members, $45 Non-members, $10 Students

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2015 AGM Minutes

Many embankment dams completed during the first six decades of the 20th century have been found deficient relative their ability to resist currently anticipated levels of seismic shaking and probable maximum flood. In this Fourth Victor de Mello Lecture, two recent case histories are described. One is a hydraulic fill structure completed in 1920 that is founded on alluvial material, some zones of which are susceptible to liquefaction. The other is a zoned earthfill dam completed in 1956 that is founded over a channel filled with loose, uncompacted, hydraulically placed tailings from gold mining operations. Each dam has been upgraded in phases over periods of several decades using different strategies and ground improvement technologies to improve stability and reduce failure risks. Several take away lessons from these experiences concerning current risk mitigation strategies, the importance of correct soil and site characterization, and implementation and effectiveness of different ground stabilization and improvement methods are presented.

James K. Mitchell, Sc.D, P.E., N.A.E., N.A.S. has a bachelor in Civil Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and both M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He worked as a soils engineer for the Waterways Experiment Station in 1955 and then spent 1956–1958 as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1958 he joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley, rising through the ranks to eventually become the Cahill Professor of Civil Engineering and finally Cahill Professor Emeritus in 1993. He then left Berkeley and joined the faculty at Virginia Tech in 1994. He retired from Virginia Tech in 1999 as University Distinguished Professor, Emeritus. Dr. Mitchell’s research activities have focused on experimental and analytical studies of soil properties and behavior, admixture stabilization of soils, soil improvement and ground reinforcement, in-situ measurement of soil properties, and mitigation of ground failure risk during earthquakes. He has supervised the Ph.D. dissertation research of 74 students, and has authored more than 350 publications, including the book "Fundamentals of Soil Behavior". During the 1960s and early 1970s Dr. Mitchell served as the principal investigator for the Soil Mechanics Experiment that was a part of the U.S. Apollo Moon landing and exploration program. He is an Honorary Member of ASCE and has served on many boards and committees of several professional and technical organizations and was vice president of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering from 1989–1994. Dr. Mitchell has received numerous awards, including: The Norman Medal, the Middlebrooks Award, the H. Bolton Seed Medal and Lecture, both the Terzaghi Lecture and the Terzaghi Award, the Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the 2001 Kevin Nash Gold Medal of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

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