by Dr. Ellen Rathje, Monday, February 11, 2019

Earthquake-induced landslides represent a significant seismic hazard, as evidenced by recent earthquakes in Kaikoura, New Zealand and Gorkha, Nepal, and proper planning/mitigation requires accurate evaluation of the potential for seismic landslides. Engineers often tackle this problem through a detailed evaluation of individual slopes and more recently have introduced performance-based engineering (PBE) concepts into the analysis. Recognizing the compounding effects of multiple landslides across an area, earth scientists often evaluate seismic landslides at a regional scale. This approach sacrifices details, but provides a broader assessment of the impacts of earthquake induced landslides. This presentation will describe the integration of performance-based engineering concepts into regional-scale seismic landslide assessments. The basic PBE framework for seismic landslides will be introduced along with the modifications required to apply it at a regional scale. The application of the approach for a seismic landslide hazard map will be presented. The use of seismic landslide inventories to validate regional landslide assessments will be discussed, along with advancements in developing seismic landslide inventories using remote sensing techniques. Finally, research needs required to further advance regional seismic landslide assessments will be presented.

VGS-TAC NEW YEAR'S TALK - Delivery of Safe Drinking Water in Bangladesh

by Mark Bolton, M.Sc., P.Geo., Tuesday, January 15, 2019

This meeting is being held in the Uber Lounge of Steamworks Pub next to Waterfront Station (375 Water Street).  Doors at 5:30pm, talk begins at 6:15pm.

Bangladesh is one of the poorest and most densely populated countries in the world. Due to its low-lying topography and tropical location in the Bay of Bengal, the country is vulnerable to droughts and flooding, resulting in freshwater shortages and bacterial contamination of water supplies. Since the 1970s, tubewells have been installed across the country to provide access to groundwater and lower the disease burden from drinking surface water; however, in the 1990s, health officials began noting symptoms of arsenic-related diseases. Subsequent water quality surveys uncovered widespread naturally occurring arsenic contamination in groundwater, resulting in what has been referred to as the worst mass poisoning of a population in history. UNICEF, the United Nations organization that is responsible for improving the lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the world, is working with the Government of Bangladesh and sector partners to tackle these challenges and increase access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation.

In this presentation Mark will share his experiences serving with UNICEF and contributing to the sector in Bangladesh. He will describe the unique geological setting in the Bengal Basin that has resulted in elevated concentrations of arsenic in groundwater and other factors that affect drinking water quality. These technical aspects will be discussed in the context of the physical, economic, political and social setting that has a profound impact on water supply and sanitation in Bangladesh. He will then present the innovative approaches that UNICEF and its partners are implementing to provide drinking water that is arsenic safe and resilient to the impacts of climate change. These approaches, which blend technical, social and financial tools, are successfully mobilizing and empowering vulnerable communities to access, operate and maintain safe water sources.  

Passive Seismic Methods for Site Assessment and Microzonation Mapping in Greater Vancouver

by Sheri Molnar, Thursday, November 8, 2018

Passive seismic techniques that record Earth’s background seismic noise wavefield have gained significant popularity in the last few decades. Passive seismic methods are non-invasive and non-disruptive to the site and therefore provide environmentally-sensitive methodology to infer subsurface geology. The use of passive seismic methods in current geotechnical engineering practice is rare but will increase in future. This presentation will include the basic theory of passive seismic methodology, why these passive methods are best combined with active-source seismic methods, and present case-study examples from nearly 20 years of experience in developing and applying passive seismic methods across Canada, Chile and in Nepal.  

Both active- and passive-source seismic methods are utilized to map subsurface ground conditions across western communities of Metro Vancouver related to a multi-year seismic microzonation mapping project, including shaking, liquefaction and slope stability hazards. The project is supported by Emergency Management British Columbia and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. Key tasks have involved developing a 3D geodatabase from previously collected geological, geophysical and geotechnical datasets, and performing seismic testing for subsurface site characterization which began this past summer 2018. In addition, all available recordings from 7 moderate earthquakes of magnitude > 4.3 between 1976 and 2015 are utilized to provide a comprehensive assessment of observed site amplification in Greater Vancouver. This presentation will include a status update of the Metro Vancouver microzonation mapping including preliminary non-invasive seismic testing results and comment on challenges in development of the underlying datasets.

Lessons Learned from Geotechnical Failures - 2018 Fall Cross Canada Lecture and VGS Annual General Meeting

by Alex Sy, Thursday, October 18, 2018

Despite advances in geotechnical engineering, failures do occasionally occur because of unknowns, uncertainties, inexperience, miscommunications, etc. However, failures do provide valuable lessons for the profession that can be learned to minimize future failures. This lecture will present three examples of geotechnical failures in British Columbia, in which the author was engaged to carry out forensic engineering. Pertinent details of the geotechnical failures and their causes are described for the following three case histories: (1) the dyke breach at the Stanley Street Pump Station located on the North Arm of the Fraser River in New Westminster; (2) the excessive foundation settlement at the Queensborough Middle School using stone column foundations in very soft soils at the east end of Lulu Island, and (3) the damaging ground movements at the Panorama/Ridgeview Subdivision located on an old landslide or “earthflow” in Chilliwack. Subsequent remedial solutions and lessons learned are also discussed.