For more than 50 years, the Karl Terzaghi Lecture has been given by an individual honored for their exemplary contributions to the field of geotechnical engineering. The 2016 Terzaghi Lecture was presented on Tuesday, February 16 at the Geotechnical & Structural Engineering Congress by Thomas D. O’Rourke, Ph.D., Hon.D.GE, NAE, FREng, Dist.M.ASCE. Dr. O’Rourke is the Thomas R. Briggs Professor in Engineering at Cornell University.

There are millions of km of pipelines in the U.S., and tens of millions worldwide used in water supplies, gas and liquid fuel delivery systems, electric power networks, and wastewater conveyance facilities. Geotechnical and structural engineers play a critical role in managing the performance of these systems that are affected by ground deformation arising from tunneling, deep excavations, and subsidence due to dewatering and mineral extraction as well as geohazards, such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes.

The lecture explores the mathematical functions used to characterize soil deformation in response to underground construction and natural hazards. It examines both the soil and structural mechanics of soil-pipe interaction under various ground movement patterns, including the material and geometric nonlinearities of pipelines, conduits, and soil. Guidance is provided for estimating tolerable levels of ground deformation for frequently encountered continuous and segmental pipelines subject to tunneling, open-cut excavation, and extreme events, such as earthquakes and landslides. Large-scale laboratory testing and numerical modeling for the next generation hazard-resilient pipelines are described, and innovative ways of accommodating ground deformation are illustrated. Water supply and wastewater system response to widespread liquefaction-induced ground deformation during the Canterbury earthquake sequence in New Zealand are evaluated with high density LiDAR and GIS analyses.

Dr. O’Rourke is an expert on natural disasters and their impact on the infrastructure supporting civil society, pipelines, and underground construction. He authored or co-authored over 360 publications on various geotechnical topics. He served on several teams reviewing and reporting on significant disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and earthquakes around the world. O’Rourke also headed a team that analyzed the impact on infrastructure systems of the attack against New York City on September 11, 2001. He served as chair or member of the consulting boards and peer review of many large infrastructure projects. Throughout his career, Dr. O’Rourke received many honors, including ASCE’s Stephen D. Bechtel Pipeline Engineering, Ralph B. Peck, C. Martin Duke, and LeVal Lund Awards. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Karl Terzaghi Lecture Video