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GeoAmericas 2020: The Buzz on the First Online Geosynthetics Conference

The 4th Pan-American Regional Conference on Geosynthetics (GeoAmericas 2020) will take place online 26 – 31 October 2020. This marks the first major geosynthetics conference to be held in an entirely digital format. Registered participants will be able to login daily and view live lectures and technical sessions, interact with presenters during Q&A time, network, and take the short courses.

It’s an innovative approach to bring the global geosynthetics community together.

Here’s what people are talking about.


The online format gives organizers IGS Brasil an opportunity to provide world-class education at a rate that is lower than many local engineering workshops. The general rate is only USD $264 for IGS Members. (The IGS Student Member rate is more than $100 cheaper.)

Forgot to renew your IGS Membership? Renew now! The GeoAmericas 2020 Online member rate ($264) + IGS individual membership (USD $45) is still less than the non-member rate for the conference!


The program for GeoAmericas 2020 is spread out over more days than a traditional in-person event to give attendees some breaks from the computer as well as to accomplish the education in a standard work day. One of the innovations in the program is the October 29 Short Course Day. This falls directly in the middle of the conference. It’s a strong move to help mix up the experience and keep attendees’ minds fresh. As with the conference, the short course registration rate is very low.

One full-day course and multiple half-day courses are offered:

  • Geosynthetic Design for Roadways, Railways and Airfields – 8 hr.
    Instructors: Jorge Zornberg and Erol Tutumluer
  • Reinforced Embankments on Soft Soils – 4 hr.
    Instructor: Ennio Palmeira
  • Geosynthetics in Stormwater Control and Hydraulic Engineering – 4 hr.
    Instructor: Markus Wilke
  • Geomembrane Installation – 4 hr.
    Instructor: Julio Ferreira



The invited lectures and keynote lineup is stellar, with luminaries from around the world providing perspectives on transportation engineering, mining, embankment design, and more. We will also see the inaugural Zornberg Lecture, named in honor of IGS Past President Dr. Jorge Zornberg.

The speakers:

October 26
  • Welcome Lecture: MÁRCIO ALMEIDA (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Brazilian Contributions to Geosynthetic Engineering
  • Zornberg Lecture: RICHARD BRACHMAN (Queen’s University, Canada), Lessons learned from physical modeling of geosynthetic systems
October 27
  • Mercer Lecture: KERRY ROWE (Queen’s University, Canada), Reinforced Embankments on Soft Soils
  • Keynote Lecture: DENYS PARRA (Anddes Consultores, Peru), Geosynthetics in Mining
October 28
  • Keynote Lecture: DOV LESHCHINSKY (University of Delaware, USA), Limit State Design Framework for Geosynthetic-Reinforced Walls and Slopes
October 30
  • Keynote Lecture: JIE HAN
    (University of Kansas, USA)
    Recent Advances in Design of Geosynthetic-Stabilized Unpaved and Paved Roads
October 31
  • Robert Koerner Lecture: BARRY CHRISTOPHER (Independent Consultant, USA), Lessons Learned: An Adventure in 4 Decades of Geosynthetics Engineering



The IGS will hold its first Corporate Member Case Study Competition at GeoAmericas 2020. It’s part of a larger competition that will lead up to the 12th International Conference of Geosynthetics (12 ICG) in Rome (September 2022).

IGS Corporate Members submitted exemplary project stories to GeoAmericas 2020 with a focus on the Pan-American region, to align the competition with the conference. A shortlist of the best case studies will be announced during GeoAmericas 2020 and those nominees will be added to the 12 ICG Corporate Case Study Competition. Additional entries will emerge from other IGS Regional Conferences (e.g., EuroGeo, GeoAsia, GeoAfrica).

Good luck to all participants! These projects tell the stories of geosynthetics for the world’s engineering community.


The packed program includes all of the concurrent technical opportunities you would expect in an in-person event while benefiting on the Q&A side from the digital format. The technical sessions, discussion sessions, and training lectures have some overlapping topics with one another and the technical lectures, allowing participants to really expand their view in special areas.

The 19 Technical Sessions will cover:
  • Geosynthetics in Highways and Railways (three sessions)
  • Case Histories (three sessions)
  • Environmental Applications (two sessions)
  • Reinforced Walls and Slopes (two sessions)
  • Geosynthetics in Mining (two sessions)
  • Soil-Geosynthetic Interaction (two sessions)
  • Design Approaches and Numerical Solutions
  • Durability and Long Term Performance 
  • Geosynthetics Testing and Properties
  • Innovative Uses and Solutions  
  • Reinforcement of Embankments and Unpaved Roads

The Discussion Sessions give attendees opportunities to engage field leaders are some very hot topics, including expanding upon the content encountered in the technical sessions and lectures. Discussion session highlights include:

  • Geosynthetics and Climate Change
  • Reinforced Walls under Seismic Conditions
  • Geotextile Filter Clogging
  • Geosynthetics in Pavements
  • Soil-Geosynthetics Interaction
  • Geosynthetic Encased Granular Columns
  • Long Term Performance of Geosynthetics
  • Geosynthetics Standards
  • Geosynthetics Education
  • Geosynthetics in Landfills
  • Failures and Lessons Learned

Finally, the Training Lectures give participants an opportunity to focus solely on a particular area and improve their understanding. Most of the training lectures will be in English, but some will be held in Spanish. These lectures are supported by well-known practitioners such as Augusto Alza, Ennio Palmeira, Bob Holtz, Tim Stark, Erol Guler, and Richard Brachman.

The lectures will provide strong insight into application areas such as reinforced embankments on soft soils, reinforced walls, leak detection systems, low-volume roads, geosynthetic encased granular columns, and much more.

For a full list of the topics and instructors, check out the GeoAmericas 2020 Online Agenda.


Learn more, register, and participate in GeoAmericas 2020 Online, 26 – 31 October 2020!