Queen's University

Professor shares geological research during cross-Canada trek

 
2011-04-27
[Mark Diederichs 1200 m under the Venezuelan Andes Mountains in the Yacambu-Quibor tunnel.]Mark Diederichs stands 1200 m under the Venezuelan Andes Mountains in the Yacambu-Quibor tunnel. Dr. Diederichs has been sharing his professional experiences with audiences across Canada.

Mark Diederichs has taken his research on the road this spring as the Canadian Geotechnical Society (CGS) Cross-Canada Lecturer.

“It has been an honour to meet with the various groups of geotechnical engineers, geologists, professors and students across the country,” he says.

Dr. Diederichs, a professor and professional engineer in the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, is delivering lectures in 14 cities from coast to coast. The local CGS chapters select one of the three lectures Dr. Diederichs has prepared based on his research. The topics include:

• Tunneling in rock under high stress conditions
• Laser scanning for rock mass characterization on slopes and tunnels
• Geotechnical performance of a deep geological repository for nuclear waste

The lectures are intended to have broad appeal.

“The tunneling talk, for example, includes discussion of extremely challenging tunnel projects I have worked on, some 60 km long, 15 m wide and up to 2.5 km deep. Because the projects were geologically complex and posed significant engineering challenges, the discussion is interesting for any geotechnical engineer or geoscientist,” says Dr. Diederichs, who is a research director with the Queen’s/RMC GeoEngineering Centre.

In one of Dr. Diederichs’ other lectures, he discusses the research and development aimed at applications of LiDAR — high speed laser scanning technology — in rock engineering such as high rock slopes, open pit mines and cavern construction. LiDAR is already used in many regions across Canada to analyze soil engineering projects including slopes, excavations and dams.

“The audiences have been very interested in a different application of a familiar technology,” he says.

The third topic is related to Ontario’s plans to manage its low and intermediate nuclear waste. Dr. Diederichs discusses the geotechnical engineering and engineering geosciences work that has been done to test the long-term safety of a proposed 650 m deep geological repository for nuclear waste in the Bruce region. If the project is licensed, construction will begin in 2013.

CGS initiated the tour in 1965. The lecturer is nominated and selected by the CGS executive on the basis of national or international reputation and career impact. Dr. Diederichs’ tour began April 6 in Kingston and will continue until April 29.
 

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