Annual Geotechnical Engineering Conference

67th Annual Geotechnical Engineering Conference

This is the 67th offering of the University of Minnesota Geotechnical Engineering Conference. The Planning Committee, whose members represent the contracting industry, government agencies, the University, and consulting engineers, has developed a program offering technical information and discussion on current topics for the geotechnical engineering community. Topics at the conference will cover ground deformation effects on subsurface infrastructure, slope instabilities associated with debris flows, the SHANSEP method to assess driven pile side resistance, LRFD calibration of drilled shafts, seismic landslide assessment, landslide mitigation using anchored shear piles, and recent case histories. The conference provides a forum to interact with peers, meet specialty contractors, and hear researchers and practitioners discuss theory and application of geomechanics. Civil engineers, architects, planners, contractors, and geologists with an interest in geotechnical engineering will benefit by attending this conference.

About the Conference

Conference Details


February 22, 2019


Continuing Education and Conference Center

St. Paul Campus, University of Minnesota

Sponsored by:

Department of Civil, Environmental, Geo- Engineering, University of Minnesota

Minnesota Geotechnical Society

Geo-Institute of ASCE

Added features:

Two, half-day short courses, February 21, 2019

- Statistics for Geotechnical Engineers

- Slope Stability Analysis using Numerical Models


Friday, February 22, 2019

7:30 am

Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:15 am


Distinguished Representative

College of Science and Engineering

University of Minnesota

8:25 am

Kersten Lecture

Ground Deformation Effects on Subsurface Pipelines and Infrastructure Systems

Thomas O’Rourke, Dist. M. ASCE, NAE, FREng

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

There are tens of millions of km of pipelines worldwide used in water supplies, gas and liquid fuel delivery systems, electric power networks, and wastewater conveyance facilities. An overview of these critical infrastructure assets is provided. Soil-structure interaction affecting pipeline and underground conduit response to externally imposed ground deformation is examined, starting with stress transfer from soil to the circular surface of the pipe. Various models for soil-pipeline interaction are described, and a methodology is proposed for evaluating soil-pipeline interaction in granular soils for any direction of pipe movement at any depth. Suction-enhanced soil reaction to relative soil-pipe movement is discussed. Guidance is provided regarding soil-pipeline interaction modeling in which the pipeline is represented as a beam vs a three-dimensional shell. Large-scale laboratory testing and numerical modeling for the next generation hazard-resilient pipelines are described, and innovative ways of accommodating ground deformation are illustrated. Water supply system response to widespread liquefaction-induced ground deformation during the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence in New Zealand is evaluated with high density LiDAR and GIS analyses, and a methodology is presented for estimating pipeline damage as the combined response to liquefaction-induced differential settlement and lateral ground strain.

9:20 am

Slope Instabilities Associated with Debris Flows

Kimberly Hill, PhD

Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

When a debris flow – a large flow of boulders, gravels, sands, and mud – moves down a slope, it can entrain materials many times the initial mass of the flow. The amount of material entrained influences the potential damage inflicted on communities in its path, making it an important parameter for hazard mitigation models. We present experiments in a novel laboratory flume to study particle-scale controls on entrainment and deposition due to debris flows. We control particle size distribution and fluid content in the flow itself and in an erodible bed over which the mixture flows, and monitor pressures, particle velocities, and average and fluctuating stresses. While a common technique for including entrainment rates in hazard mitigation models involves average stress in the flow, we find that this is not typically the case. Rather, the entrainment rates are strongly influenced by particle size distribution, which controls the magnitude of stress fluctuations and spontaneous sorting of the flowing particles in the shear flow. We show how this can be incorporated into a better understanding of field-scale measurements and, ultimately, better hazard prediction models.

10:00 am


10:30 am

SHANSEP Method to Assess Driven Pile Side Resistance in Cohesive Soils

Steve Saye, PE, PhD

Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Kiewit Engineering Group Inc, Omaha, NE

The adaptation of the stress history and normalized soil engineering properties, SHANSEP, equation to relate the soil over consolidation ratio, OCR, to the normalized side adhesion in cohesive soils described by Saye et al. (2013) provides an efficient approach to assess the capacity of driven closed-end and open-end pipe piles in cohesive soils. The assessment of OCR based on screened oedometer tests and unconsolidated-undrained compression tests is thought to provide an assessment of soil properties with a minimum of sample disturbance effects, especially for low OCR soils. This approach is updated with the addition of a construction influence factor, CI, to assess pile installation procedures that are thought to damage the pile side resistance, including re-driving after set up, long installation time, and use of a vibratory hammer.

11:10 am

Regional LRFD Calibration of Drilled Shafts

Jeramy Ashlock, PhD

Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

Following successful implementation of Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) calibration for driven piles in Iowa, similar LRFD calibration studies for drilled shafts have been sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Through this effort, the drilled shaft load test database DSHAFT has been continually updated with new load tests and associated site characterization data. Several issues that make regional calibration of resistance factors for drilled shafts more challenging than for driven piles will be discussed. To eliminate the need to extrapolate typical load test data to determine the ultimate unit side shear, two top-down and three pullout tests were performed on reduced-diameter shafts. Results of the load tests and LRFD calibrations will be presented.

11:50 am


1:00 pm

Seismic Landslide Assessments: Bridging the Gap between Engineers and Earth Scientists

Ellen Rathje, PE, PhD

Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering

University of Texas, Austin, Texas

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 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 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 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.

1:40 pm

Landslide Mitigation using Anchored Shear Piles

Thomas Westover, PE

Associate Engineer

Cornforth Consulting, Portland, Oregon

Anchored shear piles (ASP) can be used to develop full-depth restraint of large landslide masses with limited post-construction deformation. This presentation highlights a case study for landslide mitigation in Multnomah County, Oregon. The original bridge was built in 1925 at the site of an ancient landslide located along the west bank of the Willamette River. The landslide, approximately 800 feet long, 500 feet wide, and 50 feet deep, had moved in excess of three feet toward the river channel during the old bridge’s 90-year history, which caused severe buckling and cracking of the bridge deck and abutment piers. The landslide movement was mitigated using an ASP system to facilitate construction of a three-span arch bridge. An ASP system can provide full-depth resisting force to a landslide, without the risk and right-of-way impacts of large open-cut excavations and buttressing. An innovative “re-stressing” program, tailored to the instrumented performance of the system during the four-year construction period, was implemented by using existing elements to add load into the system to meet design and seismic deformation criteria.

2:20 pm


2:50 pm

Case Histories

Concurrent Session 1A:

Building a Causeway through a Swamp: Column Supported Embankment for TH-169

Alex Potter-Weight, PE

Regional Design Manager

Menard Group, Chicago, Illinois

To replace an aging bridge carrying traffic on Trunk Highway 169 over Nine Mile Creek and the surrounding watershed in Hopkins, MN, the MnDOT applied a design-build approach to allow the project to be completed on an accelerated timeline. The bridge was replaced by a causeway formed by 3000-foot long MSE walls on both sides, with a 500-year flood elevation approximately halfway up the wall. The walls and the retained fill between them required ground improvement prior to construction in the form of a column supported embankment (CSE) system. As part of the project, a robust instrumentation program was also installed to monitor the performance of the causeway in real-time before and after construction. The columns for the CSE consisted of rigid inclusions, which are displacement-drilled grouted columns, and the system included a geosynthetic-reinforced load transfer platform to transmit the embankment stresses into the columns. The soft, organic, and variable nature of the wetland soils caused numerous challenges to the CSE design and construction.

Concurrent Session 1B:

Wabasha Street Rock Slide Assessment

Ryan Peterson, PE

Senior Engineer

Itasca Consulting Group, Minneapolis, MN

A rock slide blocked Wabasha Street in Saint Paul, MN in late April 2018. A Platteville limestone block weighing approximately 384,000 lb toppled off the bluff, broke into pieces, slid down the slope, overtopped a concrete wall, and blocked the west sidewalk and lanes of Wabasha Street. The bluff consists of five geologic layers, from top down: soil, weathered Platteville limestone, hard Platteville limestone, Glenwood shale, and St. Peter sandstone. The block that toppled was from the hard limestone layer; adjacent and overlying soil and weathered limestone were also part of the slide. Itasca Consulting Group conducted a thorough assessment of the cause of the rock slide; assessed the immediate and long-term threats posed by the rock slide and remaining materials; developed remedial measures for review by the City, and ultimately prepared construction plans.

3:20 pm

Concurrent Session 2A:

Large Diameter Drilled Shafts on the Highway 63 Mississippi River Bridge

Nathan Iverson, PE

Chief Geotechnical Engineer

Veit & Company, Rodgers, MN

The new Highway 63 Bridge project replaced the old Eisenhower Bridge that had been deemed “fracture critical.” The bridge design included two large river piers supported on 9 and 10 ft diameter drilled shafts bearing 13.5 feet into bedrock up to 90 feet below river elevation. Pier 2 is located on the Wisconsin side and was drilled from a barge, while Pier 1 is located on the Minnesota side and accessed via a small access road alongside an active railroad track. The case study details the mass concrete performance, self-consolidating concrete mix performance, concrete placement techniques, thermal modeling, thermal integrity results and challenges associated with the access and construction of the foundations for the new bridge.

Concurrent Session 2B:

Stabilization of WAS-7 Landslide Using a Single Row of Drilled Shafts

Mohammad M. Yamin, PE, PhD

Civil Engineering

Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN

The site description, subsurface profile, slope stability analysis, instrumentation, and monitoring results of a stabilized slope will be presented. The slope was instrumented with inclinometers to obtain soil movement, piezometers to observe the ground water table (GWT) line, and soil pressure cells to measure earth pressures in different zones. Two drilled shafts contained inclinometers to measure the shaft deflection. Furthermore, strain gages and pressure cells were also embedded in the drilled shafts to measure the strain in the longitudinal reinforcement and contact earth pressures at the contact interface between the shaft and the soil. Observations and conclusions regarding the effectiveness of drilled shafts in stabilizing the reconstructed roadway embankment will be discussed

3:50 pm

Concurrent Session 3A:

Design and Construction of Deep Foundation Elements in Decomposed Bedrock Conditions

Ryan Drury, PE

Associate Principal, Project Engineer

Braun Intertec Corporation, Minneapolis, MN

During field exploration and geotechnical evaluation for a new 13-story building in Rochester, Minnesota, Braun Intertec encountered extremely variable and decomposed bedrock conditions approximately 30 feet below ground surface, corresponding to the unconformity between the St. Peter Sandstone and Shakopee Dolostone. The decomposed conditions included layers of dolostone between soil-filled cavities and areas of bedrock decomposed to a soil-like consistency. Braun Intertec evaluated several foundations methods and worked with the owner and design team to develop the appropriate method for the site conditions. We will discuss the risk tolerance and design approaches for the project and the various foundation elements used to support the structures (spread footings, drilled shafts, and micropiles).

Concurrent Session 3B:

Geotechnical Monitoring: A Key Element of the Creative and Effective Landslide Remediation Solutions for Minnesota Highway 210 in Jay Cooke State Park

Derrick Dasenbrock, PE

Geotechnical Engineer

MnDOT, Maplewood, MN

In June 2012, more than ten inches of rain fell in two days on parts of northeastern Minnesota causing slope failures in the greater Duluth area. Minnesota Highway 210, through Jay Cooke State Park, was significantly damaged in many locations by landslides and in other locations completely destroyed by wash-outs. Beginning in 2015, MnDOT repaired and stabilized 74 discrete landslide sites totaling more than 28 acres of steep slopes along approximately 3.5 miles of the highway using a design-build contracting framework. The performance-based project allowed the contractor to use a large variety of site-specific geotechnical and structural designs to effectively stabilize the roadway and slopes. A robust monitoring program was used to evaluate the performance of each repair. The paper focuses on the variety of design solutions and the associated challenges and benefits of multi-year continuous performance evaluation for landslide stabilization.

4:15 pm



Thursday, February 21, 2019

Morning, Short Course 1:

Statistics for Geotechnical Engineers


8:00 am - 12:00 pm


The classical tools of probability and statistics have long been used to describe the variability and uncertainty in geoengineering and site characterization. Most of these tools are based upon two assumptions: statistically independent samples and an underlying normal distribution. These assumptions will be reviewed and alternative statistical tools will be presented, including the variogram. The question of "how many samples are enough?" will be addressed using these alternative tools.


Randel Barnes, PhD

Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

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Afternoon, Short Course 2:

Slope Stability Analysis Using Numerical Models


1:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Participants will learn how solve a variety of slope stability problems associated with soil and rock. Topics to be covered include the effects of water, weakness planes, heterogeneity, axisymmetry, and support in slope stability analyses. This is a hands-on course using Itasca’s FLAC/Slope software. Complementary one-year licenses of the software will be provided to each participant. Bring your laptop.


Loren Lorig, PE, PhD

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

Itasca Consulting Group, Minneapolis, MN

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With conference registration, the fee for one short course is $140, or $255 for both. Without conference registration, the fee for one short course is $180, or $330 for both. The fee includes parking, tuition, handouts, and refreshments; lunch is included with registration for both.

Participants earn 4.0 professional development hours (PDH) for the morning course, and 4.0 PDH for the afternoon course. Registration must be received by January 30, 2019 and each course is limited to 48 people. The University reserves the right to cancel either or both of the short courses, in which case a full refund would be made.

Indicate your selection of the short courses on the Conference Registration form.


The short courses will be held at the Continuing Education and Conference Center, 1890 Buford Avenue, on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota, in Room 32.

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Planning Committee


Planning Committee

(Names are linked to the committee member's email address where available.)

Chris Behling, US Army Corps of Engineers

Joe Bentler, American Engineering Testing

Ryan Berg, Ryan R. Berg & Associates

Aaron Budge, MN State University, Mankato

Ivan Contreras, Barr Engineering Co.

Ron Farmer, Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH)

Bryan Field, Braun Intertec

Steve Gale, Gale-Tec Engineering

Mike Haggerty, Barr Engineering Co.

Megan Hoppe, American Engineering Testing

Joe Labuz, University of Minnesota

Rich Lamb, MnDOT

Dan Mahrt, Braun Intertec

Greg Norris, Veit & Company, Inc.

Steve Olson, HDR Engineering Inc.

Lee Petersen, Itasca Consulting Group, Inc.

Greg Reuter, American Engineering Testing

Dave Saftner, UMN, Duluth

Brian Sanchez, Atlas Foundation

Joel Swenson, Barr Engineering

Brent Theroux, Barr Engineering


The conference will be held at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota. A detailed map is available at Disability accommodations will be provided upon request. Contact information for local hotels may be found on this conference web site on the ACCOMMODATIONS page.


Parking is included in the conference fee and is available in lot S104 near the Continuing Education and Conference Center.


Atlas Foundation Company

Brian Sanchez, Project Manager

11730 Brockton Lane North

Osseo, MN 55369


The Reinforced Earth Company

Alexander Abraham, Regional Manager

12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 400

Reston, VA 20191


First State Tire Recycling

Lex Reinke, Marketing Director

1500 278th Lane NE

Isanti, MN 55040


Schnabel Foundation Company

Doug Hardin, Senior Design & Construction Manager

210 Cleveland Street

Cary, IL 60013


Ground Improvement Engineering, LLC

Charles Allgood Jr., Principal Engineer

6720 99th Avenue North

Minneapolis, MN 55445

(763) 416-2136

SciTechsperience Internship Program of MHTA

Becky Siekmeier, Program Director

400 S 4th Street, Suite 416

Minneapolis, MN 55415


Hayward Baker, Inc.

Ryan Johnson, Senior Project Manager

10650 County Rd. 81, Suite 106

Maple Grove, MN 55369


Subsurface Constructors, Inc.

Lyle Simonton,Director of Business Development

101 Angelica Street

St. Louis, MO 63147


Innovative Foundation Supportworks

Mitch Regal, Commercial Account Specialist

1330 41st St N

Fargo, ND 58102


TenCate Mirafi

Joe Friederichs, Technical Manager

20462 Independence Ave

Lakeville, MN 55044


Menard Group USA

Jim Naples

150 E Main Street, Suite 500

Carnegie, PA 15106


Tensar International Corporation

Jim Howley, Senior Region Manager

PO Box 358

Sun Prairie, WI 53590


Nicholson Construction Company

Aaron Evans, Chicago Area Manager

8725 W Higgins Rd. Suite 820

Chicago, IL 60631


Veit & Company, Inc.

Eric Pederson, Vice President Foundation Group

14000 Veit Place

Rogers, MN 55374



Most hotels offer discounts to University of Minnesota visitors. Disability accommodations will be provided upon request.


Best Western University Inn

2600 University Avenue SE

(612) 379-2313

The Commons Hotel, Minneapolis

615 Washington Avenue S.E.

(612) 379-8888

Days Inn University of Minnesota

2407 University Avenue SE

(612) 623-3999

Econo Lodge

2500 University Avenue SE


Other hotels in the Minneapolis area

St. Paul

Days Inn St. Paul Midway

1964 University Avenue

(651) 645-8681

Best Western

1010 West Bandana Blvd.

(651) 647-1637

Other hotels in the St. Paul area

Contact Info

Direct any questions to the following email address:


Geotechnical Conference

Department of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota

500 Pillsbury Dr. SE

Minneapolis, MN 55455


The early registration fee for the conference is $220; after January 29, 2019, it is $250. The fee includes tuition, parking, proceedings, continental breakfast, lunch, and refreshments. A refund, less a $25 cancellation fee, will be made if cancellation is received by February 15, 2019. Student registration is $20. A limited number of registrations are available at a reduced registration fee of $110 for retired engineers; registration requests must be received by January 29, 2019. The University reserves the right to cancel the conference, in which case a full refund would be made.

Professional Development Hours

Participants can earn 7.5 professional development hours (PDH) for full-day attendance.

For Further Information

Contact us via email at


Fill in your Registration Form Online here