The Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Group in the Department of Civil Engineering is a global leader, with three Canada Research Chairs, winners of numerous best paper awards, keynote and named lecturers, and editors of many of the leading geotechnical and geosynthetics journals. 

Along with connections to other geoengineering scholars at Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), the group has a strong connection to the GeoEngineering Centre, and has formed the largest and most productive team of its kind in North America. The centre hosts weekly geoengineering graduates seminars, with visits by leading international scholars and practitioners, and the distinguished Rankine and Terzaghi Lecture series. Other Queen’s resources supporting the work include world-class facilities for characterising geosynthetics, as well as active experimental facilities for studying short and/or long-term performance of geosynthetic barriers, buried pipe infrastructure, and landslides. A newer focus of the group is climate-change adaptation of infrastructure, in particular, adaptation to melting permafrost. 

Additional strengths include an influential unit of geosynthetics researchers who study polymer components such as geomembranes, geosynthetic clay liners, and polymer pipes and arch structures. New initiatives include research to develop and adapt geosynthetic liner technologies for the sustainable development of Arctic mineral resources; studies for the safe disposal of low-level and high-level radioactive waste; and research to safeguard tailings impoundments, oil and gas pipelines, and highway and rail infrastructure (see Figures 1 and 2).

The group receives funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through its Strategic Research Grants, Discovery Grants, Discovery Accelerator Supplements, Research Tools and Instruments Grants, and Collaborative Research and Development Grants. They also collaborate with industry sponsors, such as leading geosynthetics and pipe producers in North America, and work with industrial partners, including specialized consultants, trenchless technology contractors, and municipal, provincial, state, and federal governments in Canada, the United States, and other countries. The GeoEngineering team at Queen’s and RMC trains approximately a quarter of all geoengineering graduate students across Canada, along with many international students.

A project team and sponsors pose after using the unique Culvert Testing Facility in the GeoEngineering Laboratory
Figure 1: A project team and sponsors pose after using the unique Culvert Testing Facility in the GeoEngineering Laboratory to test a corrugated steel ellipse rehabilitated with a cured-in-place pipe liner up to its strength limits under simulated axle loading
A large steel-reinforced polyethylene culvert
Figure 2: A large steel-reinforced polyethylene culvert is exhumed from a new deep burial simulator funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). Here, it shows local buckling failure at 18 metres of burial.