Professor Richard J. Bathurst, P.Eng., BASc., M.Sc., Ph.D., FEIC, FCAE
graduated from Queen’s University with a BASc in Civil Engineering in 1976 and
a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1978. He began his professional
career with Golder Associates in
The main focus of Dr. Bathurst’s research has been in the area of geosynthetic reinforced soil wall technologies. He has also carried out research on the mechanics of particulate media, railway track design and performance, highway pavements and drainage, geosynthetics in reinforcement applications and earthquake engineering, geosynthetic barrier systems in harsh environments, development of geosynthetics-related test protocols, geotechnical instrumentation, geosynthetics for flood control structures, saturated/unsaturated hydraulics of geosynthetics, numerical modelling and reliability-based design of reinforced soil retaining wall systems.
Technical Contributions to Reinforced Soil Wall Technologies
Dr. Bathurst has been engaged in
research related to the development of practical design and analysis methods
for geosynthetic reinforced soil retaining walls for more than twenty-five
years. Included in this work is the building of full-scale walls in a specially
constructed retaining wall test facility at RMC, which is unique in the world.
To date, more than twenty full-scale geosynthetic reinforced soil walls have
been constructed and taken to collapse under staged surcharge loading. The
3.6m-high, 3.3m-wide by 6m-deep instrumented structures have been used to
examine the accuracy of current methods of design and analysis for reinforced
walls. These data have proved useful in calibrating analytical and numerical
models developed by Dr. Bathurst and other researchers. A subset of this work
resulted in the Gzowski Medal of the Canadian Society for Civil
Engineering (CSCE) for the best paper published in civil engineering in 2005.
More recently Dr. Bathurst and co-workers have won the R.M. Quigley Award
for the best paper published in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal in 2006 and 2007 based on their
reinforced soil wall research. Since 1999, Dr. Bathurst has been the recipient
of a major research grant from the AASHTO MSE pooled fund (a consortium of
eleven US State Departments of Transportation) to construct, analyze and model
a series of eleven full-scale instrumented reinforced soil walls. Additional
funding in support of this long-term project has come from the DND (
Dr. Bathurst was a pioneer in the development of segmental retaining wall technology. Segmental retaining walls are soil retaining wall structures that are constructed with a column of dry-stacked modular concrete units. These walls have been constructed to heights as great as 20 m using geosynthetic reinforcement layers. Segmental retaining walls can be constructed at 40-50% of the cost of conventional reinforced concrete retaining walls; hence this technology has attracted great interest and a concomitant need for design guidelines and laboratory test protocols. Details of the design, construction and specification of these systems were published in the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) Design Manual for Segmental Retaining Walls in 1993 (co-authored by Dr. Bathurst). The fundamental design concepts were published in a keynote paper by Dr. Bathurst at the 5th International Geosynthetics Conference in 1994. The NCMA document is the definitive international reference for the design of these systems. Dr. Bathurst also wrote the companion Windows-based software program that is distributed worldwide by the NCMA and is a full generic implementation of the manual guidelines.
Specialized laboratory testing protocols are required to quantify the component material properties of segmental retaining walls. Dr. Bathurst developed test methodologies for interface shear between modular block units and connection between the facing units and geosynthetic layers. These methodologies were published in the NCMA design manual. Subsequently, the two methodologies have become ASTM methods of test (ASTM D 6916 and D 6683). More recently, Dr. Bathurst developed a test protocol for determination of the sustained loading performance of geosynthetic-modular block connection systems (creep connection testing), which has been published in a USA Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidance document. Dr. Bathurst’s contribution to the advancement of reinforced soil retaining wall technologies was recognized by the International Geosynthetics Society Gold Medal Award in 1994 (the first Canadian to win this award).
Dr. Bathurst has also carried out work on
seismic issues related to reinforced soil walls, with special emphasis on
modular block wall systems. Physical model tests have been performed using a 3m
x 3m shaking table at RMC. The scope of the research was expanded to carry out
the first physical tests on the use of elasticized geofoam buffers for dynamic
earth pressure attenuation under simulated earthquake loading. Recently a CFI
grant was used to construct a new larger 250 kN –capacity shaking table at RMC.
This is the only facility of its type in
Dr. Bathurst was the first researcher in the world to propose a design methodology for the analysis and design of segmental retaining walls for seismic areas. The methodology has been adopted by the National Concrete Masonry Association and published as a 187-page design supplement to the NCMA design manual mentioned above. The collected seismic design work by Dr. Bathurst resulted in a second International Geosynthetics Society Gold Medal Award in 1998 (first person to receive this award twice). A displacement method approach to seismic design of segmental retaining walls was published in the Canadian Geotechnical Journal and won the 1996 best paper award (R.M. Quigley Award). Dr. Bathurst has been invited as a speaker and panel member at learned society gatherings and on technical committees: e.g. NSF International Workshop on Seismic Performance of Reinforced Earth Structures, Columbia University, 2000; member of the ASCE Los Angeles Section Sub-committee for the development of a guidance document for specification of segmental retaining walls in the greater LA area; panellist at a seismic session at the ASCE GeoFrontiers 2005 conference; and member of the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code Committee since 2006. He won the International Geosynthetics Society Gold Medal Award in 2010 for his work on the development of reinforced soil wall design (the first person to receive this award three times).
technical contributions have been recognized by the Geosynthetics Division
Award of the Canadian Geotechnical Society in 2002, election to Fellow
of the Engineering Institute of Canada in 2001 and Fellow of the
Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2004. He has won four other best paper
awards. In 1991 he was co-recipient of the Semionov Award for
contributions to “The Mechanical Behaviour of Disordered Granular Bodies",
awarded by the
Training of Graduate and Post-doctoral Students/Fellows
has sole-supervised 19 research Master’s and six PhD students at RMC and
Queen’s, and 21 post-doctoral fellows at RMC. Three foreign PhD students on
visiting scholarships have completed a portion of their PhD research work at
RMC. Since 1993, his graduate students have received major awards, including
three best graduate student presentation awards (M. McLay, D. Saunders and D.
Walters) and two runners-up (M. El-Emam and B. Huang) from the Canadian
Geotechnical Society, two graduate student awards from the International
Geosynthetics Society (D. Walters and D. Saunders), one Young IGS Member Award
(Zarnani), and one from the North American Geosynthetics Society (D. Saunders).
Seven students have won best graduate student paper awards from the Ottawa
Geotechnical Group (M. El-Emam, D. Saunders, P. Burgess, M. Elbanna, S.
Zarnani, F. Ezzein and B. Huang). All of Dr. Bathurst’s students have gone on
to successful careers with DND, consulting firms or academia. Sixteen post-docs
hold academic positions and the remainder are employed with geotechnical
consulting companies. The post-docs have come originally from 11 different
countries. Twelve have returned to 5 different countries other than
Editor and Editorial Board Member
In 1995, Dr. Bathurst was appointed Co-editor of the international peer-reviewed technical journal Geosynthetics International, published by Thomas Telford. He was promoted to Editor in 2003. For the year 2003, Geosynthetics International received the highest impact factor rating of all journals in the “geo” field. Dr. Bathurst has also served on the Editorial Board of Computers and Geotechnics, Ground Improvement, Geotextiles and Geomembranes, Soils and Rocks (a recently launched joint Portuguese and Brazilian journal), Geotechnical Fabrics Report, International Journal of GeoEngineering Case Histories, and the ASCE International Journal of Geomechanics. He was a recent guest Editor of a special collection of papers for the journal Geotextiles and Geomembranes.
has been an invited keynote or plenary speaker at major conferences on 19
separate occasions. Venues not already noted include: The First African
Regional Conference on Geosynthetics 2009; International Conference on Physical
Modelling in Geotechnics, 2002 & 2006; International Conference on Soil
Reinforcement, 2001; ASCE GeoDenver 2000; GeoAsia 2000; 2003 NAGS Conference;
EuroGeo3, Germany, 2004; GeoAsia2004, Korea; 10 & 11th International
Conference of the International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in
Geomechanics, 2001 & 2005; 12th Indian Geotechnical Conference 2006;
MERCEA'08 - 2008 Seismic Engineering International Conference commemorating the
1908 Messina and Reggio Calabria Earthquake, Reggio Calabria, Italy, 2008; XIII
PanAmerican ISSMGE Conference, Venezuela, 2007. General Reporter 16th
Geotechnical Conference of the ISSMGE in
Dr. Bathurst is the author or co-author of 115 papers published in peer-reviewed technical journals (including co-author of a paper published in the journal Nature), three books, 16 book chapters, more than 70 publications in peer-reviewed conference proceedings, more than 30 invited papers (some noted earlier), more than 60 publications in other conference proceedings, and five major research reports.
Service to the Profession
was elected Vice-President of the International Geosynthetics Society for the
term 1994-1998; elected President of the North American Geosynthetics Society
for 1997-1998; and President of the International Geosynthetics Society for
1998-2002. He completed his term on the executive of the IGS as Immediate
Past-President in 2006. From 1990 to 1994 he was Editor of the IGS Newsletter.
He has served as Member/Chair of the Awards Committee of the IGS. Dr. Bathurst
received the IGS Plaque in 2006, which is the highest award of the IGS
for leadership contributions to the society. He has been Member and Chair of
the Geosynthetics Division of the CGS, Vice-President Technical of the CGS and
member of the CGS Geotechnical Research Board. He was the recipient of the A.G.
Stermac Service Award of the Canadian Geotechnical Society in 1993, 2000
and 2003 for his contributions to the Society. He is the lead author and editor
of the geosynthetics chapter in the 2006 4th edition of the CGS Canadian
Foundation Manual. He has served as a member of: the Geotextiles Subcommittee
of the Canadian General Standards Board; the Board of Directors of the
Dr. Bathurst is