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HCNRG Engineering geomorphological case studies

28 July 2021
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Event type:
Lecture, Virtual event, Regional Group
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, Home Counties North Regional Group
Virtual event
Event status:

Time and Location

The meeting commences at 19.00 hrs and will be held online via Zoom


Professor James S Griffiths BSc PhD C.Eng EurGeol C.Geol FIMMM FGS PFHEA
Registered Ground Engineering Professional Adviser
14th Glossop Medallist
Emeritus Professor of Engineering Geology & Geomorphology, University of
Consultant to Red Rock Geosciences Ltd, Exeter, UK

Event description

Examples of the use of geomorphology to support investigations for civil engineering practice were first published in the UK in the mid-1970s (Brunsden et al 1976). One result of that work was that the consulting engineers Rendel, Palmer & Tritton commissioned two PhD studentships based at King’s College, London, to develop the application of geomorphology to civil engineering practice. This presentation is by one of those King’s College alumni and explores the relationship between geomorphology, engineering geology and civil engineering through a series of case studies that he has been involved with over the past 40 years. These case studies cover:

1. Planning the route alignment for a 240km highway through the Syrian desert adjacent to
the River Euphrates

2. Locating a suitable site for a flood irrigation weir on an active alluvial fan in Baluchistan,

3. Developing a database to model soil erosion in the 120,000 km2 Awash River catchment in
Ethiopia as part of a World Bank project following the famines in the mid-1980s

4. Mapping landslides for the Channel Tunnel portal and terminal in the U.K.

5. Investigating the causes of a landslide that stopped the construction of a tailings dam for a
gold and copper mine in Papua New Guinea and led to £575million insurance claim

6. Assessing the reasons for adopting a revised location of an LPG plant in the Eastern
Occidental area of Algeria as part of the investigation of a $150million construction claim

7. An investigation of the landslide risk for the construction of a coastal pathway in Antrim,
Northern Ireland.

The case studies are used to demonstrate the range of applications of geomorphology to
engineering practice, as too often geomorphologists have been seen as field technicians who can
just provide colourful maps. The contention is that using a geomorphological understanding of the
landscape is key to developing the ground model that is now fundamental to all site investigations
and required under the latest iteration of Eurocode 7.