C W Lovell Distinguished Lecture

9th C W Lovell Distinguished Lecture


April 14, 2011



Thomas D. O'Rourke
Briggs Professor of Engineering, Cornell University
Geohazards and Large Geographically Distributed Systems


Geotechnical engineers play a critical role in managing the performance of large geographically distributed systems that are affected by geohazards such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and landslides. Systems, such as water supplies, levees, and gas and liquid fuel supply networks, may cover thousands of km2 and be subject to many different ground response and geotechnical failure mechanisms. The geotechnical factors affecting system behavior have broad implications for life safety and regional economic stability.

The lecture will explore the geotechnical aspects of large system behavior during extreme natural events, starting with the performance of system components under extreme conditions of soil-structure interaction. The results of large-scale laboratory tests of underground pipeline response to ground rupture will be summarized. The results will be used to illustrate how such testing not only improves our understanding of complex, soil-structure interaction, but leads to improvements in geotechnical instrumentation and modeling of soil behavior. The geotechnical factors affecting regional system response to geohazards will be examined with reference to earthquake effects on the Los Angeles and San Francisco water distribution networks as well as hurricane effects on both the New Orleans levee system and Gulf of Mexico oil and gas pipeline supply network. The lecture will conclude with a discussion of advanced geographical information systems and remote sensing, which are important technologies for the assessment of geohazards and geotechnical factors influencing regional system performance.

About Professor O'Rourke


Professor O'Rourke is the Briggs Professor of Engineering at Cornell University. He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received several awards from professional societies, including the Collingwood, Huber Research, C. Martin Duke Lifeline Earthquake Engineering, Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering, and Ralph B. Peck Awards from American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Hogentogler Award from American Society for Testing and Materials, and Trevithick Prize from the British Institution of Civil Engineers. He served as President of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and as a member of the U.S. National Academies Committee for New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects. He authored or co-authored over 345 technical publications. His research interests cover geotechnical engineering, earthquake engineering, underground construction technologies, large geographically distributed systems, and geographic information technologies and database management. He served as chair or member of the consulting boards of many underground construction projects, as well as the peer reviews for projects associated with highway, rapid transit, water supply, and energy distribution systems.






  Lecture (4:30 pm - LWSN 1142)
  Reception and dinner (6:30 pm - West Faculty Lounge, Purdue Memorial Union) (Reservations Required)