June 2017

Geofilters: Granular and Geotextile

Status: Advanced registration is now closed. Please contact Emma Talbott at [email protected] for any questions.
Date: Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Time: 8:00 AM-8:30 AM: Registration and Breakfast
8:30 AM-4:30 PM: Geofilters - Granular and Geotextile Seminar
Location: Prince Rupert, BC
Presenter: Dr. Jonathan Fannin, P.Eng., FEC
Professor of Civil Engineering, University of British Columbia
Credit: 7 Formal Professional Development Hours (PDH)
Cost: Early Bird Price Engineers and Geoscientists BC Member: $569.00 + GST = $597.45 until May 24, 2017

Engineers and Geoscientists BC Member and EIT/GIT Regular Price: $669.00 + GST = $702.45

Non-Member Price: $669.00 + GST = $702.45

Student Member Price: $334.50 + GST = $351.23
Please Note: *A minimum number of registrations are needed by May 24, 2017 to proceed with this seminar. Please register early to avoid cancellation.
**All prices are subject to applicable taxes.
Contact: Emma Talbott | Diversity Outreach Coordinator
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Learning objectives for this 1-day short course are: to develop an understanding of the fundamental concepts that govern the design of filters in geotechnical applications; to identify the nature and limitations of empiricism in design practice, so as to inform decisions on the specification of either a granular or a geotextile filter in engineering practice; and, to illustrate, with reference to the state-of-practice in embankment dam engineering, the sensible application of empirical rules and their verification by means of laboratory tests described in the technical literature.

Filters that are used in geotechnical engineering to control seepage must satisfy certain fundamental requirements. The pore size distribution must be sufficiently small enough to restrict particles of the adjacent soil from entering into it and washing through it. The permeability must be sufficiently high enough to ensure an unimpeded flow of water through it. In the case of an embankment dam, a filter placed downstream from the core is required to control and seal any leaks that develop as a consequence of internal erosion. The filter itself should not be susceptible to seepage-induced internal instability under the flow regime that can develop adjacent to such localised deficiencies.

In the morning session, the origins of design “rules” are reviewed for granular filters, commencing with the original classic work Terzaghi, in order to gain a full appreciation for empiricism in design. The subsequent development and refinement of these rules is then traced, from laboratory investigations and companion field experience, so as to gain a confident understanding of current design practice. The methodology of the US Natural Resources and Conservation Service, National Engineering Handbook Chapter 26 “Gradation design of sand and gravel filters” is then reviewed in detail, and applied to the Coursier Dam in British Columbia where concern for seepage through a 50 year-old embankment dam led to its decommissioning in 2004.  Thereafter, the recently-published ICOLD Bulletin 164 on “Internal erosion of existing dams, levees and dikes, and their foundations” is examined, with consideration of its implications for current design practice.

In the afternoon session, the origins of design “rules” for geotextile filters are then reviewed, again with a view to appreciating the empirical nature of design practice for both woven and non-woven geotextiles. The companion refinement of these rules is traced over time, again from a consideration of laboratory investigations and companion field experience, and illustrated with reference to a case-study in dam engineering, and a case study in stream-bank stabilization. In closing, the state-of-practice for geotextile filters is compared and contrasted with that for granular filters.


  • Engineers and geoscientists engaged in the design, construction, and performance-monitoring of dikes, levees, tailings, storage facilities, and embankment dams.
  • Government and industry professionals with responsibility for the inspection, maintenance, and safety reviews of such infrastructure.


Dr. Jonathan Fannin, P.Eng., FEC
Professor of Civil Engineering, University of British Columbia

Jonathan Fannin has been involved with teaching, consulting, and university-industry research on both geotextile (in partnership with geotextile manufacturers) and granular filters (in partnership with BC Hydro) for more than 20 years. He has worked on projects in Canada, South America, and Europe. He is a recipient of the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) Award for contributions of his research to engineering practice.  He held a UK Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Fellowship at Imperial College London, where he continues to collaborate on fundamental investigations of the micro-mechanics of granular filters. His professional activities have included Vice-President of the North America Geosynthetics Society, and Chair of the Canadian Geotechnical Society, Geosynthetics Division. He has twice received a UBC Killam Prize for teaching excellence, and was also a recipient of the APEGBC President’s Teaching Award.

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