Basic Soil Mechanics Related to Earth Dams

This event qualifies for 17 PDH

To protect the health and safety of attendees, this event has been moved to online-only due to COVID-19 concerns.


The objective of this course will be to provide a comprehensive presentation of the significant principles and concepts of soil mechanics to the participants. The material will be presented with emphasis on the basic soil mechanics principles prerequisite to further study for design or rehabilitation of earth embankment dams. This is a basic level course intended as an introduction for those with minimal to moderate knowledge or experience in the application of soil mechanics principles to earth dam design, operation and rehabilitation. This course is a good prerequisite to the more advanced ASDSO seminars on: Stability Analysis of Embankment Dams, and Seepage Through Earth Dams.


Learning objectives attendees will receive from this course:

  • The significant basic concepts and principles of soil mechanics prerequisite to further courses related to the use of soil mechanics principles for earth embankment design and rehabilitation.
  • The theory of consolidation related to embankment dam engineering
  • The concepts of soil shear strength related to embankment dam engineering
  • The concepts of lateral earth pressure needed for hydraulic structure applications
  • A basic understanding of phreatic surface, embankment permeability, and drainage systems
  • Appropriate field investigation techniques needed to evaluate foundation conditions for design and rehabilitation of embankment dams
  • Appropriate field and insitu testing procedures for existing or new embankment dams

Speaker and Presenter Information


Dr. Richard W. Stephenson
Chancellor's Professor in Civil Architecture and Environmental Engineering (Emeritus)
Missouri University of Science and Technology

Dr. Richard W. Stephenson, P.E., received his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Oklahoma State University in 1971. Since then he has been at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in various capacities. He has served as geotechnical engineering area head and interim department chairman. Dr. Stephenson has conducted numerous dam safety investigations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as for various public and private consulting clients. His research interests include deep foundations, geotechnical earthquake engineering, helical anchors, and laboratory characterization of soil behavior including hydraulic conductivity, behavior of silt soils and deterioration of foundations of Egyptian antiquities. Dr. Stephenson is a Fellow of ASCE, a member of the Academy of Civil Engineers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and a registered professional engineer. He currently holds the title of Chancellor’s Professor and Professor Emeritus.


Dr. Ronaldo Luna
Professor of Civil Engineering
Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, St. Louis University

Dr. Ronaldo Luna is a Professor of Civil Engineering at Saint Louis University since 2014. He teaches courses at the graduate and undergraduate level in the field of geotechnical engineering. His research interests lie in the dynamic response of soils and liquefaction, geographic information systems in civil engineering, and advances in soil mechanics and foundation engineering. He was a professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, MO, for fifteen years. Previously he was an assistant professor at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA. He obtained his bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1983, from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, and MS in geotechnical engineering in 1985 from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. He earned his PhD in 1995 from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA. Dr. Luna has practiced as a geotechnical engineer in the west coast and the central US and currently in the region and internationally. He is a registered professional engineer in the states of Missouri, California, and Washington and has published over 120 technical papers. He is a Fellow with the American Society of Civil Engineers since 2007 and was recently inducted as a Diplomate, Geotechnical Engineering, with the Academy of Geo-Professionals.

Relevant Government Agencies

Army, Dept of Energy, Dept of Homeland Security, Dept of the Interior, Other Federal Agencies, State Government, County Government, City Government, Municipal Government, FEMA, Federal Government, State & Local Government, Foreign Governments/Agencies

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Tue-Thu, Jun 2-4, 2020

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Association of State Dam Safety Officials

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