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Spotlight On The IGS Technical Committees: Soil Reinforcement

Established in 2010, the IGS Technical Committee on Soil Reinforcement (TC-R) aims to advance the understanding, education and application of how geosynthetics can reinforce soil in a variety of applications, seeking to improve safety and cost effectiveness around construction.

Here, TC-R chair Pietro Rimoldi explains more about the Committee’s work, plans and exciting future events in our ongoing deep dive series on the IGS Technical Committees.

Strong foundations for reinforcement

Formed during the 9th International Conference on Geosynthetics in Guaruja, Brazil, in May 2010, the TC-R currently has more than 70 members driving the Committee’s aims of developing geosynthetics systems and associated technologies for soil reinforcement. These applications include reinforced soil walls and abutments, reinforced soil steep slopes, basal reinforcement of embankments on soft soil, on piles, and on voids, and veneer reinforcement of shallow soil layers on slopes.

Research and education is key for the Committee with the dissemination of knowledge, technology, research, and best practice a significant part of the work of its members, who mainly come from manufacturing companies and universities, but also include individuals from consultancies, agencies and laboratories.

The reinforced wall along the State Road Nr 28, close to Imperia, in Northern Italy with the bridge abutments on top
The reinforced wall along the State Road Nr 28, close to Imperia, in Northern Italy featuring a gabion channel
The reinforced walls along the State Road Nr 28, close to Imperia, in Northern Italy, laterally and above the tunnel entrance
Strategic aims in a post-pandemic world

Appointed as committee chair in September 2020 Pietro Rimoldi is supported by vice-chair Dr. Yoshihisa Miyata and secretary Dr. Ivan Puig Damians.

Mr Rimoldi explained: “Our key strategic aims are twofold. First, ensuring greater standardization and education on reinforced soil techniques. This is about improving design reliability, ensuring robust performance in seismic conditions, and exploring new design approaches and numerical models.

“Secondly, the diffusion and development of these techniques. This means looking at the ways geosynthetic reinforcement contributes to sustainability, in landslide prevention or remediation, in rockfall protection, in mining, and many other applications.

“The pandemic certainly curtailed the number of in-person TC-R activities in 2020 and 2021, but we organized more virtual events this year including an educational lecture series covering a range of reinforcement topics. We’ve also got a Special Session on Reinforcement at the GeoAsia 7 Conference in Taiwan in November, this year.”

The Committee is also planning to publish a series of state-of-the-art papers on open access journals, as follows:

  • 2022: Progress of geosynthetics for soil reinforcement
  • 2023: Development of geosynthetics reinforced embankments technology
  • 2024: Development of geosynthetics reinforced walls technology
  • 2025: Development of geosynthetics reinforced foundations technology
Growing the TC-R

Key priorities have been increasing membership, specifically involving more consultants and designers of reinforced soil structures, and building stronger links with a range of stakeholders.

“I would like to develop the liaison of TC-R and the involvement of TC-R members in Standardisation Committees (ISO, CEN, ASTM, etc.) for contributing to the improvement of existing norms and the development of new norms related to testing and design of products and structures for soil reinforcement,” said Mr Rimoldi.

“Moreover, I would like the TC-R to strengthen links with universities and research centres for supporting new research on soil reinforcement applications. Finally, I want the TC-R to strengthen links with manufacturers and contractors for contributing to the development of more and more sustainable products and construction techniques.”

He continued: “We’ve got some exciting events coming up worldwide so I hope these will be of interest to our existing members and attract potential new members to find out more about us.”

The events include:

  • Special Session on Reinforcement at GeoAsia 2023, the 7th Asian Regional Conference on Geosynthetics, in Taipei, Taiwan, in November 2022.
  • Special Session on Reinforcement at GeoAfrica 2023, the 4th African Regional Conference on Geosynthetics, in Cairo, Egypt, in February 2023.
  • Organization of the next TC-R Workshop in 2024.
  • TC-R session at the 12th International Conference on Geosynthetics in Rome, Italy, in September 2023.
  • Finalization of the IGS educational lectures on Reinforcement.
  • Publication of TC-R papers on open-access journals.
  • Development of educational materials on Soil Reinforcement, such as leaflets.
  • Organization of virtual meetings discussing specific topics.
A proud legacy

 Existing for more than a decade, the TC-R has continued to make an impact in soil reinforcement education, as well as more recently making the case for reinforcement geosynthetics and sustainability. This year the TC-R contributed to two important papers related to sustainability. These were:

  • Sustainable use of geosynthetics in dykes’ by Rimoldi, P, Shamrock, J, Kawalec, J, Touze, N, published in: Sustainability2021, 13, 4445.
  • Sustainability of geosynthetics-based landslide stabilization solutions’, by Ivan P. Damians, Yoshihisa Miyata, Pietro Rimoldi, Nathalie Touze, John Kraus, for the Book Series of the International Consortium on Landslides for the Kyoto Landslide Commitment 2020.

Mr Rimoldi also highlighted his pride in the creation of the Richard Bathurst Lecture, dedicated to soil reinforcement topics only. It will be delivered at the IGS TC-R session at every International Conference on Geosynthetics (ICG). The inaugural lecture will be given at the 12th ICG in Rome, Italy, in September, next year. The first Bathurst Lecturer will be Dr. Yoshihisa Miyata, Professor at the Civil Engineering Department of the National Defense Academy of Japan.

Wall in Genzano di Lucania, close to Potenza in Southern Italy, for the preservation of the 12th century Annunziata Church and the Monastery of the Clarisse nuns: view of the reinforced soil wall during construction and the final vegetated reinforced soil structure
Wall at Ponte Prugneto, near Modena in Northern Italy, for the preservation of the historical arch bridge: view of geogrids being connected to concrete blocks (top left); geocomposite drainage strips (top right); concrete block facing (bottom left) and the almost completed downstream wing wall (bottom right)
Get involved

Soil reinforcement products and applications are improving and developing fast so it’s a great time to engage with the TC-R.

“Whoever is interested in soil reinforcement should join the TC-R, to be constantly updated on the related discussions, developments, publications and events. TC-R members also have the opportunity to actively contribute to papers, documents, webinars, and other events,” said Mr Rimoldi.

“There is an exciting ongoing development in soil reinforcement geosynthetics and the TC-R will continue to be a leading agent of such development. Join us if you want to be at the leading edge of technology, and contribute to education and dissemination of soil reinforcement culture!”

Find out more about the IGS Technical Committees here. If you would like to join the TC-R, apply via its web page. Applicants must be IGS members first.

Missed our previous articles on the TCs? Read about its origins here, and sister Technical Committee on Barrier Systems here.

D4R7 Project – Bratislava Bypass, Warsaw: with a total of 47,100 m2 of facing area, considering 60 reinforced soil wall structures involved, the D4R7 is one of the largest reinforced soil wall applications in a single project in Europe in 2020. Most of the reinforced soil walls were built with precast concrete panels facing; 67% of the total area of the reinforced walls were assembled with polymeric geostrips reinforcement (751,850 m of total geostrips length) and 33% were assembled with steel reinforcement (292,625 m of total steel ladders reinforcement length).

*All images in this article are from the paper: Rimoldi, P. (2018). Design and construction of reinforced walls in Italy in complex static and seismic conditions. These pictures show the potential and versatility of reinforced soil solutions.