HOME > Program > Special Lectures

Special Lectures

Giroud Lecture

  • Global Crisis: A Geosynthetics Solution

    Dr. Nathalie Touze-Foltz
    Antony Regional Center
    National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA), France

Dr. Touze-Foltz has been conducting research on geosynthetics for the past 23 years, with particular emphasis on environmental applications. She has authored about 170 papers. She is the head of the regional center of Irstea near Paris, a French public research institute, which has been at the forefront of geosynthetic research since 1972. She serves or has served on a number of national technical committees especially for the use of geosynthetic clay liners and geomembranes. Her experience has been acknowledged in the field of standardization and she has served as convenor of WG4 (hydraulics) in ISO TC 221 and CEN TC 189. She is currently vice-president of the council of the French Chapter of IGS. She has been elected on the IGS council twice (2010-2014 and 2014-2018). Dr Nathalie Touze-Foltz was a Keynote Lecturer at the Eurogeo 4 and Eurogeo 5 conferences. She was also an invited lecturer at the 7th International Conference on Environmental Geotechnics in 2014 (Melbourne, Australia).


There is a growing awareness of the need for more sustainability in geoenvironmental applications. The International Geosynthetics society did recently produce a movie dedicated to emphasize how geosynthetics can bring more sustainability. This however is not sufficient. The crisis we are experiencing is global, systemic. The World is a complex organism, experiencing numerous troubles: economic and financial crisis, environmental crisis, agricultural crisis, sanitary crisis, psychological and identity-related crisis, crisis of values and sense, political crisis. It is thus important to identify the real nature of problems and to focus on the available resources to go beyond this crisis. The solution cannot be purely technological, nor a come back to growth through a consumption restart . Facing a global crisis the solution has to be global. How can geosynthetics and the geosynthetics community contribute to the resolution of the crisis? Technology is usually emphasized but will not be sufficient. What are the values of the IGS on which we can rely? 35 years after the creation of the IGS, the objective of this Giroud lecture is to emphasize, through the analysis of recent lectures and papers, not the history but the way geosynthetics contribute today to the resolution of the economic and financial crisis, the environmental crisis, the agriculture crisis, the crisis of values and identity, the crisis of the living together, through its multicultural and multifaceted composition.

Keynote Lecture

  • Geosynthetic liners: Conceptions and misconceptions

    Prof. R. Kerry Rowe
    GeoEngineering Centre at Queen’s-RMC
    Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada

Author of over 350 refereed journal papers, 3 books, 15 book chapters, and more than 330 full conference papers, he has extensive research and consulting experience in geosynthetics, waste management and geoenvironmental engineering including the design and/or peer review of hydrogeology and/or design for more than 60 landfills in Canada, US and other countries. He has been recognized by numerous awards including the Giroud Lecture (2002), Rankine Lecture (2005), Manuel Rocha Lecture (2006), Casagrande Lecture (2011), the Ferroco-Terzaghi Oration (2012), and the ASCE Karl Terzaghi Lecture (2017). The International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering has created the ISSMGE R. Kerry Rowe Lecture. He has been elected a Fellow of the world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific society, the Royal Society (of London, UK) as well as being elected a foreign Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Fellow UK Royal Academy of Engineering and both the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering as well as Professional Societies in Australia, Canada, and USA. He is a past president of the International Geosynthetics Society, the Canadian Geotechnical Society and the Engineering Institute of Canada.


This lecture highlights the importance of carefully considering the implications of design and construction decisions in ensuring good long-term liner performance. It explores some common well-understood concepts and then examines the misconceptions that can arise and their implications. It highlights the importance of selecting the geosynthetic materials considering the overall performance of the barrier system and the effect of interactions between the many different geosynthetics and other components of a barrier system. It demonstrates how what may first appear obvious is not always as one expects.

  • Reinforcement with geosynthetics – how they work in soil

    Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Ziegler
    Professor of Chair of Geotechnical Engineering and Institute of Foundation Engineering, Soil Mechanics,
    Rock Mechanics and Waterways Construction
    RWTH Aachen University, Germany

After a 15 year career in a large construction company he was appointed chair of Geotechnical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University. He is the author of more than 200 publications in journal papers and conference proceedings, 1 book and 4 book chapters. His main research fields are geosynthetic reinforcement, tunneling, hydraulic failure, ground freezing and geothermal applications. He is engaged in various national and international standardization committees. He has extensive consulting experience in tunneling and foundation engineering and has acted as court-appointed expert in numerous cases of dispute. In 2015, he was recognized with the award of the Society of the Centre of International Structural and Civil Engineering Law (CBTR). Since July 2004 he has been a member of the advisory board of this Society. Since 2003 he has been chairperson of the board of the Research Association for Tunnels and Transportation Facilities (STUVA) which organizes every 2 years one of the world´s largest tunneling conferences with more than 1800 participants from over 25 countries. Since 2006, he has been a member of the board of the German Geotechnical Society (DGGT) and president of the special section “Geosynthetics in Geotechnics” within this society. He has served as a council member of the IGS since 2008 and as chair of the European Activities Committee since 2010.


Depending on the application, the mode of action of geogrids is based on different action mechanisms: these are the membrane effect, the pullout behavior and the constraining effect. Both the frequently described interlocking effect and the confining effect can be subsumed under the constraining effect. After a short explanation of the above mechanisms, some of the most important applications using geosynthetic reinforcement such as steep slopes and walls, bridge abutments, base courses, geosynthetic-encased sand columns or pile-like elements in extremely soft soil are described and the dominant action mechanism is assigned to the respective application. In most applications of geosynthetic reinforcements, however, the constraining mechanism comes into effect. This effect leads to a change of the state of stress in the soil towards a more isotropic stress state. As this reduces the ratio of deviator to isotropic stress, the soil can accommodate a significantly higher load at lower deformations than would be possible without the geogrid. This is impressively shown in laboratory tests.