Geotechnical Services Division (8300)

Division Chief:  Ryan Woodruff (; 303-445-2334)

The Geotechnical Services Division has approximately 117 staff that provide integrated technical expertise in:  1) Geotechnical Design/Engineering, 2) Engineering Geology & Geophysics, 3) Seismology & Geomorphology, and 4) Instrumentation.

Geotechnical Design/Engineering 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (8311, 8312, 8313, 8314, 8315)

Group Managers:
8311—Ryan Woodruff (; 303-445-2334)
8312—Justin Hall (; 303-445-2914)
8313—Caleb Rudkin (; 303-445-3069)
8314—Garrett Sutley (; 303-445-3047)
8315—Peter Irey (; 303-445-3033)

The Geotechnical Design/Engineering Groups provide cost-effective geotechnical studies and analyses for embankment dams and a wide range of water resource projects. In the support of Reclamation’s Dam Safety Program, the groups perform dam safety evaluations, including probabilistic risk analysis, for over 300 high and significantly hazard embankment dams in Reclamation’s current inventory. The groups also provide design support services for dam safety modifications. The groups’ projects include:

  • Embankment dams and foundations (geotechnical analysis and design of new and modifications to existing dams, construction support services, dam safety evaluations including probabilistic risk analysis, and security evaluations)
  • Embankment dam risk analysis
  • Emergency incident response
  • Geotechnical analysis and design of foundations for concrete dams, pumping plants, powerplants, and other civil structures, canals, pipelines, and related features
  • Stability analysis and improvement for natural soil and rock slope, including landslides
  • Underground excavations, rock slopes, landslides, and other projects requiring the application of rock mechanics

Engineering Geology & Geophysics (8320)

Group Manager:  Jared Vauk (; 208-220-8333)

The Engineering Geology & Geophysics Group leads planning, executing, and coordinating geologic site characterization activities, and evaluates and portrays geological and geotechnical conditions.  Services include:

  • Field mapping, photogrametric and subsurface exploration and sampling of rock/soil
  • Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) three-dimensional modeling using GIS, GPS, and related databases for subsurface conditions and other physical data
  • Geologic interpretations for planning, design, and specifications
  • Dam safety evaluations and probabilistic risk analysis
  • Geologic foundation mapping and foundation approval during construction
  • Geologic analyses for rock mechanics issues, blasting and grouting programs, foundations, borrow investigations, seepage studies, dewatering systems, and environmental restoration
  • Photogrammetric modeling and geologic analysis for a variety of applications including rock slope stability, rock and soil scour, fracture flow, and foundation acceptance
  • Coordinating and performing dam safety and operation and maintenance (O&M) inspections of Reclamation dams as part of the Comprehensive Review Program
  • Routine monitoring of dam performance including operation and maintenance of a centralized database; analysis of collected data; reporting and presenting data results
  • Periodic in-depth analysis of monitoring results including dam safety analysis of instrumentation data and developing performance criteria for structures
  • Instrumentation design including determining the type, number, and location of instruments required; the frequency of readings, procurement, installation, maintenance, and repair of systems; and design of automated data acquisition systems
  • Field assistance including calibration, installation, and/or inspection of instrument installations; operating laboratory facilities for instrument repair, testing, calibration and assembly; maintaining a stockpile of commonly used instruments and supplies to allow rapid replacement of malfunctioning components; and providing assistance in reading, operating, or maintaining instruments
  • Complete geophysical site characterization services including data acquisition, processing, analysis, and integration with borehole and other geologic and hydrologic information
  • Surface, borehole, cross-hole, and surface-to-borehole geophysical surveys to determine a wide range of subsurface physical properties and conditions, including centimeter-level global positioning system surveys in support of scientific and engineering investigations

Seismology & Geomorphology (8330)

Group Manager:  Bethany Burton (; 303-445-2697)  

The Seismology & Geomorphology Group provides specialized geological, geomorphological, seismological, and geophysical expertise for site-specific and regional earthquake and geomorphology studies, Quaternary geology, and engineering geophysics. Information and services that the group provides include:

  • Paleoflood hydrology for assessment of extreme flood hazards
  • Natural hazards for risk analysis through probabilistic earthquake hazard studies
  • Numerical and statistical analysis and modeling, including ground motion synthesis, and seismic tomography
  • Earthquake loadings, including site-specific ground motions and response spectra
  • Probabilistic risk analyses for dam safety and design evaluations
  • Seismic monitoring of Reclamation facilities for real-time structural response information for post-earthquake assessment and emergency notification
  • Paleoseismic investigations to define earthquake hazards
  • Fluvial geomorphology, geomorphological processes, and Quaternary history for stream evaluation and restoration, site characterization, environmental impact, and other investigations

Instrumentation (86-68360)

Group Manager:  Elizabeth Ouellette (, 303-445-3036)

The Instrumentation Group provides a wide range of instrumentation related services for dams and other facilities. The group’s engineers and technicians also have experience in designing, installing, and monitoring over 70 types of instruments used to provide information in categories such as water pressure, earth/total pressure and load, deformations (internal and surface), temperature, and seepage quantity and quality. Instrumentation-related services include:

  • Routine dam performance monitoring:
    • Reviewing data for validity and performance anomalies
    • Troubleshooting questionable data to assure accurate information
    • Maintaining a database of visual and instrumental monitoring information
    • porting and presenting routine data results
  • Periodic in-depth analyses of monitoring results, including dam safety analyses
    • Participating in the failure mode analysis/performance parameter process
    • Participating in comprehensive facility reviews
    • Instrumentation design
    • Determining the type, number, location, and reading frequency of instruments required
    • Preparing drawings and specifications for procuring, installing, maintaining, and repairing instrumentation systems
    • Designing automated data collection and transmission systems for both short and long term monitoring
  • Field assistance including:
    • Calibrating, installing, and inspecting instrument systems
    • Maintaining lab facilities for instrument repair, testing, calibration, and assembly
    • Troubleshooting and consulting on special problems
    • Providing Dam Tender Training
    • Providing training on instrumentation matters
Last Updated: 3/13/24