The research activities of the Geotechnical group are generally conducted through the Geotechnical Engineering Center (GEC). Our research activities have also been conducted through other centers, such as the Center for Transportation Research (CTR), the Center for Water and the Environment (CWE), and the Offshore Technology Research Center (OTRC).

The Geotechnical Engineering Center (GEC) strives to develop and implement innovative strategies for evaluating the geotechnical properties of earth materials and predicting performance of structures embedded in and built on the earth's surface. The Center serves government, industry, and other academic institutions by arranging special lectures, seminars, and short courses, by conducting specialized laboratory and field tests, and by serving as an information source on the behavior of soil and rock for government officials and others.

Update on GEC Achievements during the 2004-2005 period:

A specialized set of laboratory tests was conducted this year to evaluate the dynamic properties of rock cores from Yucca Mountain, Nevada. This site is the proposed location for the national high-level nuclear waste storage facility. The dynamic properties are to be used in evaluations of ground and structural responses during possible earthquake shaking. Similar tests were also performed for two Y-12 National Security Complex sites at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The Geotechnical Engineering Center receives about $0.7M a year from the National Science Foundation/Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) to maintain and operate large-scale mobile field equipment for dynamic loading. The equipment provides new field capabilities that never before existed in a new shared-use setting.

The Geotechnical Engineering Center is continuing to work on the new Geosynthetics and Geoenvironmental laboratory that was added to its existing cluster of experimental facilities. Specifically, the new laboratory includes equipment for testing of geosynthetics and unsaturated soils, such as large-scale pullout boxes, load frames with temperature control capabilities, infiltration columns, and devices for unsaturated soil measurements. In addition, the manufacturing of a centrifuge permeameter system is being completed by a specialized manufacturer in the UK. This will constitute a unique geotechnical facility for accelerated testing of unsaturated soils and physical modeling of flow processes in general. The Office of Technology commercialization at the University is filing a patent on this new testing environment.

The Geotechnical Engineering Center has also initiated collaboration with the Center for Space Research. This collaboration explores applications of remote sensing to geotechnical and earthquake engineering. This year, researchers used remote sensing to develop damage estimates for the Niigata, Japan earthquake, the South Asian Tsunami, and hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The Geotechnical Engineering Center was instrumental in organizing an international conference, Geo-Frontiers, in Austin in January 2005. This conference highlight the University of Texas to 2,000 attendees and 100 exhibitors, and was well-received by all in attendance.