Geotechnical Services Division (8300)

Division Chief:  Les Stone (lstone@usbr.gov; 303-445-3153)

The Geotechnical Services Division has approximately 100 staff that provide integrated technical expertise in:  1) Embankment Dams & Geotechnical Engineering, 2) Geology & Geotechnical Support, 3) Seismology, Geomorphology & Geophysics, and 4) Instrumentation & Inspections.

Embankment Dams & Geotechnical Engineering (8311, 8312, 8313, 8314)

Group Managers: Ryan Woodruff (8311; rwoodruff@usbr.gov; 303-445-2334), Chris Slaven (8312; cslaven@usbr.gov; 303-445-3046), Jeff Wormer (8313; jwormer@usbr.gov; 303-445-3691), Derek Wittwer (8314; dwittwer@usbr.gov; 303-445-2978)

These 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 Geotechnical Engineering 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

Geology & Geotechnical Support (8320, 8322)

Group Manager:  Mark Vandeberg (mvandeberg@usbr.gov; 303-445-3306)

This group leads planning, executing, and coordinating geologic site characterization activities, and evaluates and portrays geological and geotechnical conditions. Geologic services are integrated with seismotectonic and geophysical studies. 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

Seismology, Geomorphology, & Geophysics (8330)

Group Manager:  Jeanne Godaire (jgodaire@usbr.gov; 303-445-3164)  

This 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 Seismology, Geomorphology, & Geophysics 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
  • 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

Instrumentation & Inspections (8360)

Group Manager:  Rick Kelsic (rkelsic@usbr.gov; 303-445-3059)

The group’s engineers and technicians 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. The group has expertise in five general areas:

  • 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
Last Updated: 3/17/17