Geotechnical Society of Edmonton

NEWS 2014

Posted September 11, 2013 (Updated April 22, 2014)

Event: May 9, 2014

GSE/CGS Cross Canada Lecture: Dr. Jim Graham, PhD DSc FEIC PEng, Professor Emeritus, University of Manitoba - Natural Processes and Strength Degradation

Location: Faculty Club, University of Alberta

Time: 11:45am Registration, 12:15pm Lunch, 12:30pm Presentation

Cost: $30 Members, $40 Non-Members, $10 Students - This event has sold out!

Many engineering designs are based on laboratory tests using so-called ‘undisturbed’ samples of clay from the field. There is a common tendency to test only intact specimens and to discard specimens that appear disturbed, fissured or otherwise weaker. It is known, however, that natural processes such as wetting-drying, freezing-thawing, desiccation, heating-cooling, and alterations in chemistry can affect the structure of clays and significantly change their compressibilities, hydraulic conductivities and strengths. For example, plastic clays that have been fissured by desiccation or freezing cannot reliably provide peak strength resistance in slopes and under engineered embankments. The presentation shows examples of projects where natural processes degraded the strengths of natural and reconstituted clays. The case histories provide a reminder of the importance of recognizing natural processes and the limitations of laboratory measurements when selecting appropriate parameters for numerical modeling.

Reference: Graham, J., Alfaro, M., and Blatz, J.A. 2011. Natural processes and strength degradation. Special Volume on Bifurcations, Instabilities and Degradations in Geomaterials. Collected papers from IWBDG2008, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, 2008. Richard Wan, Mustafa Alsaleh& Joe Labuz, Editors, publ. Springer, New York, NY

Jim Graham, PhD DSc FEIC PEng, has worked for many years on ‘undisturbed’ natural clays from Northern Ireland, Norway, Ontario and Manitoba. His early work showed how natural clays fit into an elastic-plastic framework with only small changes to Modified Cam Clay. More recently, his research developed elastic-plastic models for time- and strain-rate effects, temperature changes, incomplete saturation, and changes in pore fluid chemistry. In particular, his work with Jian-hua Yin at Hong Kong Polytechnic University; and Curtis Kelln, Jitendra Sharma, and David Hughes at Queen’s University Belfast has shown the importance of viscoplasticity in simulating the performance of embankments on soft clays.

Jim Graham holds PhD and DSc degrees from Queen’s University Belfast. At the University of Manitoba he spent many years developing innovative courses for teaching geotechnical engineering at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He has published over 200 papers on his interests in both clay behaviour and engineering education. He received the Legget Medal from the Canadian Geotechnical Society, the Stirling and K.Y. Lo Medals from the Engineering Institute of Canada, the Medal for Distinction in Engineering Education from Engineers Canada; the Saunderson Award for Excellence in Teaching from the University of Manitoba, and the Award of Merit from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists, Manitoba. He is a professional engineer in the province of Manitoba, a Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada, a former Editor of the Canadian Geotechnical Journal, and President, then Secretary General of the Canadian Geotechnical Society.

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

Sponsorship provided by:

  • BGC Engineering
  • MEG Consulting Limited: Marine and Earth Geosciences
  • EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd., a Tetra Tech Company
  • DYWIDAG-Systems International


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9211 - 116 Street NW
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