Geotechnical Society of Edmonton

NEWS 2010

Posted September 13, 2010 (Updated October 15, 2010)

Event: October 29, 2010

GSE/CGS Cross Canada Lecture: Dr. Sarah Springman, ETH Zurich - The Rüdlingen Landslide Experiment

Location: Royal Glenora Club, 11160 River Valley Road

Time: 11:45am - 1:30pm

Cost: $30 Members, $40 Nonmembers, $10 Students

A large scale field experiment was conducted on a steep 38° forested slope with preliminary field monitoring of sensors installed at depths from 15 to 150 cm, including tensiometers, TDRs, piezometers, rain gauges, pressure cells, acoustic sensors and deformation probes, prior to triggering a landslide by means of artificial rainfall. The project was designed to enhance the understanding of triggering processes and initiation mechanisms by replicating the effects of a heavy rainfall event in May 2002, in which 100 mm rain fell in 40 minutes, causing 42 surficial landslides. Geotechnical, and hydrological characterisation was carried out on the overlying colluvial silty sand, with bedrock at depths between 0.5 m and 5 m. Percolation of groundwater into the underlying bedrock was observed from test pits. Remote sensing of displacements was also carried out continually during the field experiments, through a photogrammetric monitoring system. It was deduced that the slope would fail during an extreme rainfall experiment that would lead to saturation of the soil overlying the bedrock. The failure mechanism was more or less as predicted, with vegetation reinforcement playing a role. Triggering occurred earlier than expected in March 2009, incorporating about 150 m3 of debris, which was safely retained in a protection net at the base of the slope.

Dr. Sarah Springman has been a full professor of Geotechnical Engineering in the Institute for Geotechnical Engineering at the ETH Zurich since 1997. Prof. Springman studied soil mechanics at Cambridge University and has worked as an engineer on projects in England, Fiji, and Australia. While completing her Master's and Ph.D. at Cambridge, she also pursued athletics and won national and international triathlons.

The focus of Dr. Springman's research is geotechnical modeling of soil- and structure-related problems. These include design and construction of abutments, pile foundations, reinforced soil and oil drilling structures. Dr. Springman is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed journal papers, numerous conference papers, and delivered many invited lectures and presentations.

PDF of abstract which includes references.

The CCLT is organized by the Canadian Geotechnical Society, with funding through the Canadian Foundation for Geotechnique.

Sponsorship provided by:

  • Thurber Engineering Ltd.
  • BGC Engineering
  • LVM
  • Reinforced Earth Company Ltd.


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9211 - 116 Street NW
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