Primarily, the committee’s findings and recommendations are directed to the National Science Foundation (NSF) but suggestions for other agencies, education, and practice are made as well. Support for the findings and recommendations are documented in Chapters 2-5.

To summarize, the committee developed a vision for the future of the field of geotechnology as follows: Geotechnology will respond to the societal needs for engineering on and below the surface of Earth and with earthen materials using innovative and sophisticated science and technology, contributing to sustainable practice and participating in the interdisciplinary nature of the civil and environmental engineering problems facing society.

6.1 KNOWLEDGE GAPS AND NEW TOOLS

Finding

The committee finds that significant knowledge gaps continue to challenge the practice of geoengineering, especially the ability to characterize the subsurface; account for time effects; understand biogeochemical processes in soils and rocks; stabilize soils and rocks; use enhanced computing, information, and communication technologies; and understand geomaterials in extreme environments (see Chapter 2 for the full list of knowledge gaps). The committee is concerned that resources for investigator-initiated research at NSF are diminishing and believes that the balance between investigator-initiated research and directed research is unbalanced toward directed research.

Geoengineering is burdened by a lack of adequate characterization of the geomedia and paucity of necessary information, which contributes to some extent to unavoidable uncertainty in design. We are still unable to translate our fundamental understanding of the physics and chemistry of soils and rocks and the microscale behavior of particulate systems in ways that enable us to quantify the engineering properties and behavior needed for engineering analysis of materials at the macroscale. Given these problems, paradigms for dealing with the resulting uncertainty are



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