Technical Program

Speaker Instructions 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

 

8:00am–4:00pm             Poster Session Presentations (Navarro Foyer)

8:00am–12:00 pm          Opening Session – Sponsored By Gannett Fleming (Hidalgo)

     8:00am–8:05am         Welcome (AEG President William Godwin and Annual Meeting Chair Jeff Neathery)

     8:05am–8:15am         Volunteer Recognition Awards

     8:15am–8:45am         AEG Foundation Awards

     8:45am–9:25am         Keynote Speaker: Robert Mace

     9:25am–10:00am       AEG Outstanding Environmental & Engineering Geologic Project Award: San Antonio Riverwalk

     10:20am–11:00am     Keynote Speaker: Texas Central High Speed Rail Project – Carlos Aguilar

     11:00am–11:20am     The 2020/2021 AEG/GSA Richard H. Jahns Distinguished Lecturer in Applied Geology: Cheryl Hapke

     11:20am–12:00pm     Introduction of the 2021/2022 AEG/GSA Richard H. Jahns Distinguished Lecturer in Applied Geology: Richard Wooten

2:00pm–3:00pm              Technical Session #1A: Coastal Hazards Symposium (Carranza) - Sponsored by AEG Carolinas Chapter

3:20pm–5:00pm              Technical Session #1B: Case Studies and Investigation (Carranza) - Sponsored by AEG Carolinas Chapter

2:00pm–5:00pm              Technical Session #2: Tunnel Symposium (Madero) - Sponsored by McMillen Jacobs Associates

2:00pm–5:00pm              Technical Session #3: GeoUAS (Drones) Symposium (Villa)

 

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

 

8:00am–4:00pm             Poster Session Presentations (Navarro Foyer)

8:00am–12:00pm           Technical Session #4: Dams and Levees Symposium – Risk-n-the-River Part I (Carranza) - Sponsored by Schnabel Engineering

8:00am–12:00pm           Technical Session #5: Evaluating Geologic and Seismic Hazards and the Potential Need for Hazard Mitigation Symposium, Part I

                                          (Madero) – Sponsored by GeoEngineers

8:00am–12:00pm           Technical Session #6: Land Subsidence Symposium Part I (Villa) 

1:40pm–5:00pm             Technical Session #7 – Dams and Levees Symposium – Risk-n-the-River Part II (Carranza) - Sponsored by Schnabel Engineering

1:40pm–5:00pm             Technical Session #8 – Environmental Symposium – 1,4 Dioxane (Villa) - Sponsored by Bryan Environmental - Postponed to a date to be

                                          determined

1:40pm–5:00pm             Technical Session #9 – Evaluating Geologic and Seismic Hazards and the Potential Need for Hazard Mitigation Symposium, Part II

                                          (Madero) – Sponsored by Collier Geophysics

5:00pm–7:00pm             Poster Reception in the Navarro Ballroom Foyer (All posters will be displayed and presenters available for questions) -

                                          Sponsored by Enviro-Equipment

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

 

8:00am–12:00pm           Technical Session #11 – Landslides Symposium – Line ‘em up but don’t knock ‘em down! Landslide Investigation and Mitigation for

                                          Linear Infrastructure Projects Part I (Carranza) - Sponsored by DiGioia Gray & Associates

8:00am–12:00pm           Technical Session #12 – Evaluating Geologic and Seismic Hazards and the Potential Need for Hazard Mitigation Part III (Madero) –

                                          Sponsored by GeoVision

8:00am–12:00pm           Technical Session #13 – From Words to Action: Doing More than Talk about Diversity in the Geosciences (Villa) –

                                          Sponsored by Deborah Green

1:00pm–3:00pm             Technical Session #14 – Landslides – Line ‘em up but don’t knock ‘em down! Landslide Investigation and Mitigation for Linear

                                          Infrastructure Projects Part II (Carranza)

1:00pm–3:00pm             Technical Session #15 – Geophysics (Madero) - Sponsored by Collier Geophysics

1:00pm–3:00pm             Technical Session #16 – Environmental Topics (Villa) – Sponsored by University of Pennsylvania

 

Opening Session - Wednesday, September 22, 8:00am-12:00pm

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Robert Mace

Robert Mace is the Executive Director and Chief Water Policy Officer at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and a Professor of Practice in the Department of Geography at Texas State University. Robert has over thirty years of experience in hydrology, hydrogeology, stakeholder processes, and water policy. 

Link to full Bio

 

Safe Yield, Sustainability, and Science

With growing populations, growing economies, climate change, and declining water levels, groundwater sustainability is once again becoming a focus of national and international attention. Interestingly, the earliest thoughts about how to best manage groundwater started with sustainable use through the introduction of the safe yield concept in 1915. The next 50 years involved an evolution of the definition of safe yield, constant confusion over what it was and wasn’t, and handwringing by engineers and scientists over the policy aspects of groundwater management decisions. While some governing bodies chose to manage their groundwater resources according to a presumed safe yield, many did not, resulting in groundwater mining and the resulting year-on-year water-level declines seen most famously in the Ogallala Aquifer of Texas’ Southern High Plains. At this point, the economists arrived to first justify draining aquifers and then, later, after adding nuances of externalities and broader societal needs, provide information for policymakers to make decisions. Beginning in the 1970s, scientists began to add environmental considerations to determinations of safe yield and, in the 1980s, with global sustainable development a focus of discussion and research, safe yield transitioned to sustainability with explicit considerations of the environment, future generations, and the long-term viability of water resources. Regardless, sustainable management of groundwater remains a political challenge, especially if current pumping far exceeds sustainable production. In Texas, I have identified four typologies of groundwater sustainability: 1) sustainability forced by the hydrogeology, 2) sustainability (indirectly) forced by law, 3) sustainability chosen by management districts (but facilitated due to lack of production), and 4) sustainability that appears politically impossible. Those districts that desire sustainability generally do not have rules that would achieve it if production began exceeding a sustainable yield, a complication caused by threats of takings lawsuits, previous permitted production amounts that do not correlate to land ownership, and the political difficulties in addressing these issues. In the end, outside of special cases, groundwater governance in Texas leads to the unsustainable production of groundwater.

 

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Carlos Aguilar

Carlos F. Aguilar, PhD, serves as the President and CEO of Texas Central, a private, Texas-based company developing a high-speed passenger train that will connect North Texas and Houston. Dr. Aguilar brings the experience overseeing large-scale infrastructure projects that will be critical as Texas Central moves into the planning and building phases. He has more than 30 years’ understanding in combining multiparty negotiations and complex financing structures with the on-the-ground realities of engineering, construction management, and safety. 

Link to full Bio

 

High-Speed, Low-Impact

Texas Central is the company undertaking the development, design, construction, finance, and operation of the innovative new high-speed passenger train line that will connect the fourth and fifth largest economies in the country—North Texas and Greater Houston—in less than 90 minutes, with one stop in the Brazos Valley. The Texas high-speed train will utilize nearly 10 million cubic yards of concrete – nearly three times the amount used to build the Hoover Dam. It will include three stations—one each in North Texas, Houston, and the Brazos Valley—plus train maintenance facilities to support routine upkeep of the system along the route. The train will also utilize nearly 1,100 miles of steel rail and more than 1.4 million concrete railroad ties. The current design of the system calls for more than 48 percent of the 240 miles of tracks to be elevated on viaducts in order to preserve access for landowners. Where viaducts are not feasible for elevation, the system will run elevated berms. Both options, however, allow for the design of large and conveniently located underpasses or overpasses. Though large in magnitude, the railroad will only require a small footprint similar to a typical two-lane farm-to-market road and will follow existing right-of-way to the maximum extent possible. This project gives Texans what they have been demanding—the freedom of choice when moving between the state’s two largest regions. The Texas high-speed train is good for Texas, providing a safe, affordable, and productive transportation choice that advances the State’s economy and pre- pares us for future growth.

2020–21 AEG/GSA Richard H. Jahns Distinguished Lecturer – Cheryl Hapke

Dr. Cheryl Hapke is a coastal geologist with more than twenty-five years of experience studying coastal evolution and coastal change processes in a variety of geomorphic settings. She received her PhD from the University of California Santa Cruz, a Master’s degree from the University of Maryland, and her BS in Geology from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Hapke worked for several decades with the U.S. Geological Survey as a research scientist, and now is a senior consultant in coastal resiliency with Integral Consulting. She also has an appointment as a research professor at the University of South Florida, College of Marine Science. Her current research focuses on coastal vulnerability and sea-level rise adaptation, developing new tools and approaches to evolve the science of coastal hazrds. She has authored over eighty peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and technical reports, and served as a subject matter expert on coastal change hazards to local, state, and federal agencies, and international groups.

 

Adaptation in a Changing World: From Covid to Coastal Resilience

2020 was a year like no other, with no precedence for a newly awarded Jahn’s Distinguished Lecturer. However, while much of society was shut down, natural processes kept changing our coasts. 2020 was the most active hurricane season on record and the fifth most costly, highlighting the ever-growing need for coastal communities and facilities, and the natural areas around them, to increase their resilience. Foundational to coastal resilience is the need to understand the geology and components of a coastal system and how the system has evolved and responded in the past. This understanding further requires us to develop and apply science-based models to forecast what is likely to happen in the future. Future impacts may be from slow, long-term processes such as flooding from rising seas, or rapid catastrophic events that cause severe erosion and destroy both the built and natural systems. The challenge is to determine the best adaptation strategies to support a resilient future. Being the Jahn’s Lecturer in 2020 also required developing an adaptation strategy. Instead of traveling to give lectures to local chapters and universities, the winter/spring 2021 lectures were all virtual. In addition, instead of beginning the lecture series in the Fall of 2020, the tenure was shifted to the 2021 calendar year with the hopes that in-person lectures would be possible by the Fall of 2021. Lecture topics ranged from coastal landslides and highway management along the Big Sur, California coast to developing a statewide coastal seafloor mapping program in Florida and the importance of that map- ping to improved coastal resilience and adaptation. Between virtual lectures, studies were undertaken in two low-lying barrier island communities in the Gulf of Mexico to help understand vulnerabilities and risks, and to develop potential adaptation strategies: Captiva, Florida, and South Padre Island, Texas. Adaptation strategies in general fall into the categories of protect, accommodate, or relocate. They can range from green to gray; green strategies are actions such as habitat restoration or living shorelines, and gray strategies generally involve structures like seawalls or jetties.

 

The community of Captiva needed to understand where and when their community infrastructure will face the hazards of future sea level rise. Because they have a regular beach nourishment program which protects the outer coast, their primary concern is with flooding on the bay side of the barrier island. We characterized the geomorphology of the barrier island, compiled data of the community assets, and developed models to show which areas of the island would flood in scenarios of 1, 2, and 4 feet of sea level rise. The modelling output was used to assess what assets, including houses, commercial buildings, roads, and critical infrastructure would be impacted under each scenario (Figure 1). Utilizing the results of the hazard and risk assessments, we developed a series of conceptual adaptation strategies for the bayside of the island. At South Padre Island, the focus is on the evolution of the ocean-facing beach and dune system. The City has a robust beach nourishment program and they needed to better understand what morphologies, such as dune height and beach width, will be the most resilient in the future. The study evaluates historical changes to the beach-dune morphology using a time series of twenty-five profiles spanning twenty-six years, and also included an on-site field assessment (photo on page 30). The results indicate that the northern section of the study area is substantially more vulnerable to flooding and erosion than the central and southern portions, and modelling is currently underway to evaluate future conditions. Dealing with future changes, whether they be issues of human health or coastal hazards, will require adaptation to create a more resilient world!

 

2021–22 AEG/GSA Richard H. Jahns Distinguished Lecturer – Richard M. Wooten, PG

Richard (Rick) Wooten has over 40 years of experience in applied geology in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State and applied geologic research in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. He earned his BS and MS degrees in geology at the University of Georgia in 1973 and 1980. Rick recently retired from the North Carolina Geological Survey where he was the Senior Geologist for Geohazards and Engineering Geology from 1990 to 2021. His previous work includes mapping geologic resources and conditions for land-use planning, landslide investigations, and applied geotechnical geology for the USDA- Forest Service on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington State from 1980 to 1990. His work with the North Carolina Geological Survey includes the scientific regulatory review and field investigations for a low-level radioactive waste disposal project and bedrock geologic mapping in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains. Since 2003, his main focus has been on landslide hazard mapping and research and responding to landslide events North Carolina Blue Ridge. He has a special interest in the relationships of ductile and brittle bedrock structures with geomorphology and landslides processes and communicating landslide hazards information with stakeholders.

 

2018–20: Two Years, Eight Storms, 320+ Landslides, and an Earthquake

(What does it mean, and what do we do now?)

Rick’s presentation will highlight topics he will cover during in his Jahns’ lecture series. These themes include interconnecting geoscience, weather patterns, and history in landslide hazard studies: using drones and lidar in emergency landslide responses and hazard mapping, building multi-disciplinary partnerships in applied geology and research, and communicating with stakeholders about landslide hazards. He will explore these topics in the context of the North Carolina Geological Survey’s (NCGS) landslide response and landslide mapping efforts between 2018 and 2020. A two-year period of record above-normal rainfall that began in 2018 and continued into 2020 resulted in a steady increase in landslide activity throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. Eight extreme rainfall events related to low pressure systems, convective storms, and tropical cyclones triggered over 320 debris flows and debris slides, and cumulative rainfall over this period contributed to the reactivation of large, slow-moving landslides that continue to threaten property and regional infrastructure. This interval of increased landslide activity began abruptly on May 18, 2018, when an orographically enhanced, convective storm along the Blue Ridge Escarpment triggered at least 240 debris flows and debris slides that resulted in a fatality, destroyed homes, and severely damaged infrastructure. Shortly after this event, the North Carolina General Assembly reinstated funding for the NCGS landslide hazards program. During the course of rebuilding this program and concurrent countywide landslide mapping the NCGS responded to an additional eighty recent landslides. Notable among these was the August 24, 2019, convective storm in the Nantahala River Gorge that triggered at least thirty-two debris flows and debris slides, many originating in areas burned by the Ferebee wildfire during the record drought of 2016. This event caused more than $1M in damages with adverse impacts to local, state, and federal agencies, and to the local economy. Data on these and over 5,000 other landslides are now publicly available via a suite of online tools to examine landslide hazards in North Carolina.

 

The August 9, 2020 Mw 5.1 earthquake near Sparta, North Carolina, caused over $15M in damages to buildings and other infrastructure. Ongoing collaborative investigations identified the first modern fault rupture directly attributed to recent seismicity in the Southeastern United States Ground surface ruptures along the newly discovered, ESE-trending Little River Fault parallel other linear topographic features crossing the southern Blue Ridge in locations linked to frequent landslide activity. The coincidence of new technology, the passage of National Landslide Preparedness Act and the ongoing impacts of extreme weather patterns linked to climate change present a compelling opportunity for the geoscience community to press forward in a coordinated effort to reduce losses from landslides. An essential part of meeting this challenge is building partnerships within and outside of the scientific community to increase public awareness of geologic hazards.

 

2021–22 Jahns Lecture Series Presentations

• Debris Flows, Big Slow Movers, and Rockslides: Assembling the Geospatial Legacy of Landslides using Lidar, Drones and Boots on the Ground 

• The Building and Upkeep of a Landslide Hazards Program: The Confluence (Collision?) of Science, History, Politics, and Public Opinion – A Blue Ridge Perspective on a National Challenge

• Responding to Landslide Emergencies: Communicating with Stakeholders and the Feedback Loop of Preparation, Response, Analysis and Lessons Learned

• Going Against the Grain: Linking Brittle Cross-Structures with Landslides, Hydrogeology, and Earthquakes in the North Carolina Blue Ridge and Piedmont