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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation GEOLOGICAL AND GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERING IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM OPPORTUNITIES FOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION Committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation Committee on Geological and Geotechnical Engineering Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS WASHINGTON, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Grant No. CMS-0229020 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-10009-7 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation COMMITTEE ON GEOLOGICAL AND GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERING IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM: OPPORTUNITIES FOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION Members JANE C. S. LONG, Chair, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California BERNARD AMADEI, University of Colorado, Boulder JEAN-PIERRE BARDET, University of Southern California, Los Angeles JOHN T. CHRISTIAN, Waban, Massachusetts STEVEN D. GLASER, University of California, Berkeley DEBORAH J. GOODINGS, University of Maryland, College Park EDWARD KAVAZANJIAN JR., Arizona State University, Tempe DAVID W. MAJOR, GeoSyntec Consultants Inc., Ontario, Canada JAMES K. MITCHELL, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg MARY M. POULTON, The University of Arizona, Tucson J. CARLOS SANTAMARINA, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta Staff ANTHONY R. DE SOUZA, Director JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Financial Associate CAETLIN M. OFIESH, Research Assistant RADHIKA CHARI, Senior Project Assistant (until March 2004) AMANDA M. ROBERTS, Program Assistant (from July 2004)
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation COMMITTEE ON GEOLOGICAL AND GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEERING Members NICHOLAS SITAR, Chair, University of California, Berkeley SUSAN E. BURNS, University of Virginia, Charlottesville JOHN T. CHRISTIAN, Waban, Massachusetts KIM DE RUBERTIS, Cashmere, Washington THOMAS W. DOE, Golder Associates, Redmond, Washington JOANNE T. FREDRICH, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico LARRY W. LAKE, The University of Texas, Austin RAY E. MARTIN, Ray E. Martin, LLC, Ashland, Virginia MARY M. POULTON, The University of Arizona, Tucson DONALD W. STEEPLES, University of Kansas, Lawrence Staff SAMMANTHA L. MAGSINO, Program Officer AMANDA M. ROBERTS, Program Assistant
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES Members GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville M. LEE ALLISON, Office of the Governor, Topeka, Kansas STEVEN R. BOHLEN, Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Washington, D.C. ADAM M. DZIEWONSKI, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts KATHERINE H. FREEMAN, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park RHEA L. GRAHAM, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, Albuquerque ROBYN HANNIGAN, Arkansas State University, State University V. RAMA MURTHY, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario MARK SCHAEFER, NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia BILLIE L. TURNER II, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts STEPHEN G. WELLS, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada THOMAS J. WILBANKS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee Staff ANTHONY R. DE SOUZA, Director ELIZABETH A. EIDE, Senior Program Officer DAVID A. FEARY, Senior Program Officer ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer ANN G. FRAZIER, Program Officer SAMMANTHA L. MAGSINO, Program Officer RONALD F. ABLER, Senior Scholar HEDY J. ROSSMEISSL, Senior Scholar VERNA J. BOWEN, Administrative and Financial Associate JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Financial Associate TANJA E. PILZAK, Research Associate CAETLIN M. OFIESH, Research Assistant JAMES B. DAVIS, Program Assistant JARED P. ENO, Program Assistant AMANDA M. ROBERTS, Program Assistant
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Braden Allenby, Arizona State University, Tempe Chris Breeds, Sub Terra, North Bend, Washington Corale Brierley, Brierley Consultancy LLC, Highlands Ranch, Colorado John Dunicliff, Geotechnical Instrumentation Consultant, Devon, England Henry Hatch, Former Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, Oakton, Virginia Elvin R. Heiberg, III, Heiberg Associates, Arlington, Virginia Norbert Morgenstern, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by William Fisher, The University of Texas at Austin. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation Preface The charge to this committee—to envision the future of geotechnology—is at once a grand challenge and a problem. In many ways, geotechnology is a mature field having come to its majority in the last 50 years. Many serious problems have been solved. We know how to build strong foundations, safe dams, and stable roads and tunnels. We have a good understanding about the behavior and protection of groundwater, how to extract the petroleum resources, and develop a geothermal field. We understand quite a bit about the soil conditions that lead to liquefaction during an earthquake or make landslides likely. If there is a major problem, it is that the state of the practice worldwide does not match the state of the art. Even when the knowledge exists, economics or ignorance lead to harmful, suboptimal, and dangerous practice. People still build trailer parks on flood plains. Those of us who have been trained to this state of the art are trained to keep digging deeper (in the intellectual sense) and to refine and improve our understanding and methods. We are more tuned to what we still do not know and cannot yet do versus reflecting on how far we have come and how much we are now capable of compared to the past. Given the approaches and lexicons we are used to, we have a kind of Zeno’s paradox in moving forward. Each step forward is smaller than the last in comparison to the totality of progress
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation in the field. Quantum leaps are farther and fewer using the same paradigms, technology, and approaches. The problems have also changed. We can no longer expect to do an engineering project that has no reference to the impacts of the design on social structures, economics, and the environment. Sustainability has become an imperative recognized by the engineering profession (see, for example, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations website, http://www.unesco.org/wfeo/) in general and the professional societies involving geoengineering (e.g., the American Society Civil Engineers, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Society of Petroleum Engineers). Earth-type problems are now recognized on regional and global scales. Engineers need to embrace social science aspects of their problems if they are to develop acceptable designs. Geoengineering as a discipline and practice can and should change. Geoengineers should look to entirely new technologies and approaches to solve problems faster, better, cheaper. The problems geoengineers solve are important to society, and the current technological constraints are in many cases less likely to be solved by beating them with old approaches than they are to be cracked by new technological and more interdisciplinary approaches. Geoengineers, with their focus on Earth are poised to expand their roles and lead in the solution of modern Earth systems problems, such as global change, emission free energy supply, global water supply, and urban systems. Changing established fields of engineering is not easy. It is a truism that practitioners and researchers are most comfortable in the realm of their known approaches and problem spaces. It is perhaps more important to realize that geoengineers know that the problems they have been solving still need to be solved and the techniques and technology they currently use are still a propos. Part of moving ahead involves being able to feel the confidence that the significant progress made to date will not be lost through a love affair with the new and exciting. At the same time that this report promotes and encourages change, the committee also felt the stress of this change. As much as we found enthusiasm and genuine
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation excitement about the possibilities of the future, we were not immune to concerns about the future of support for, and education in, traditional geoengineering. As chair, it is my hope that the readers of this report will be captured by the imaginative and creative possibilities of embracing whole new technological approaches to research and the migration to problems that have become dominant issues for our world today. If we do not find better ways to solve our traditional problems, economic and environmental concerns will push these solutions further and further out of reach. For example, we certainly know how to build underground infrastructure in cities, but we had to spend over $14.6 billion to construct Boston’s Central Artery and the disruption to the city was lengthy and extensive. Many such projects will be required in our cities but will we have the ability to do them if we cannot significantly decrease the cost, reliability and time of construction, not to mention our ability to manage them? The ability to build such structures as safe dams, extensive highways, and safe water supply systems was an imperative of the last century. Perhaps the most important imperative of this century is sustainability and the most salient feature of sustainability is the scale of the problem. Geoengineering is a great starting point for addressing many Earth system issues, and I see tremendous importance in this endeavor. It has been the committee’s privilege to learn, think, and write about this. We hope you become as interested in the possibilities as we are. Finally, I would like to thank the committee members who worked so hard to complete this report. Jane C. S. Long Chair
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 15 1.1 Past, Present, and Future Scenarios, 15 1.2 Research Issues for Geoengineering, 21 1.3 Study and Report, 23 2 UPDATING THE 1989 GEOTECHNOLOGY REPORT: WHERE DO WE STAND? 27 2.1 Waste Management, 37 2.2 Infrastructure Development and Rehabilitation, 43 2.3 Construction Efficiency and Innovation, 55 2.4 National Security, 63 2.5 Resource Discovery and Recovery, 66 2.6 Mitigation of Natural Hazards, 71 2.7 Frontier Exploration and Development, 77 2.8 Remaining Knowledge Gaps, 79 2.9 The Way Forward, 81 3 MEETING THE CHALLENGES WITH NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND TOOLS 83 3.1 Biotechnologies, 84 3.2 Nanotechnologies, 90 3.3 Sensors and Sensing System Technologies, 96 3.4 Geophysical Methods, 104
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation 3.5 Remote Sensing, 111 3.6 Information Technologies and Cyberinfrastructure, 115 3.7 The Potential of the New Technologies for Advancing Geoengineering, 122 4 GEOENGINEERING FOR EARTH SYSTEMS AND SUSTAINABILITY 127 4.1 Sustainable Development, 127 4.2 Earth Systems Engineering, 136 4.3 Geoengineering for Earth Systems, 138 4.4 Geoengineering for an Earth Systems Initiative, 140 4.5 Summary, 148 5 INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES FOR THE NEW AGENDA IN GEOENGINEERING 149 5.1 National Science Foundation Issues, 150 5.2 Universities, 158 5.3 Industry’s Role, 163 5.4 Diversifying the Workforce, 170 5.5 Institutional Issues for a New Agenda in Geoengineering, 171 6 FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 173 6.1 Knowledge Gaps and New Tools, 174 6.2 Geoengineering for Earth Systems, 177 6.3 Interdisciplinary Research and Education, 179 6.4 Conclusion, 182 REFERENCES 183 APPENDIXES A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff 191 B Workshop Agenda and Participants 199 C Acronyms 205