The following presentations will take place during the plenary sessions throughout the conference 

Rock slope stability assessment – the benefits and challenges of remotely sensed data

Dr. Jean Hutchinson, Ph.D., P.Eng., FEIC, FCAE

Queen's University


Remotely sensed data, using a variety of data capture methods, deploying using a number of different survey vantage points, is increasingly being applied to the assessment of slope stability for natural and excavated rock slopes. The data quality, quantity and rate of acquisition continues to rise, as manufacturers develop new tools, and R&D results in enhanced ways to collect, clean, align, process and interpret data. Several case histories demonstrating the value of remotely sensed data will be presented, and will be discussed in the context of risk assessment and infrastructure management. As the value of this data is demonstrated and understood, there is a tendency to move away from other types of instrumentation. However, there is a tremendous value in combining different data sets, as the story of slope instability is often complex, and understanding the mechanisms and processes requires multiple lines of evidence.


Professor Dr. Jean Hutchinson is a professor in Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering, is a registered Professional Engineer in Ontario, and is a Fellow of both the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Institute of Canada. A Geological Engineer by training, Jean practiced as an engineer for several years, first with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, and later with Klohn Crippen Consultants, before joining first the University of Waterloo and then moving to Queen’s University. Jean specializes in rock engineering, site characterisation and risk management for mining and transportation infrastructure, with a focus on landslide hazards, and novel monitoring techniques.

Geohazard Management in Permafrost Regions

Lukas Arenson, Dr. Sc. Techn. ETH, P.Eng.

BGC Engineering Inc.


Landscapes in permafrost regions are changing at unprecedented rates. In the Arctic and the Sub-Arctic, changes in environmental conditions in response to climate change have significant impacts on the permafrost resulting in the development of processes that had either not been observed in the past, or exhibit changes in their frequencies and magnitudes. These changes alter the hazard potential significantly, impacting the risk to infrastructure. It is therefore no longer adequate to complete a geohazard assessment by documenting historic events and assuming that future processes will be similar. A process-based risk assessment approach is therefore required. On the other hand, significant uncertainties exist in these processes and it would not be economic to adapt all infrastructure in permafrost regions to withstand impacts that are based on worst case scenarios. Monitoring in combination with a warning system offers an economic approach for managing geohazards in permafrost regions that not only assists in reducing potential consequences, but also allows to continuously improve the understanding of the natural process and specifically, geohazard triggering mechanisms. Recent advances in monitoring and communication technologies as well as data management systems provide new opportunities but also challenges. Based on two case studies, values and limitations of geohazard monitoring and management systems are discussed.


Dr. Lukas Arenson is a Principal Geotechnical Engineer at BGC Engineering with 18 years of expertise in permafrost engineering, specifically in frozen soil mechanics, periglacial risk assessments and geothermal modelling. He received his PhD in civil engineering at ETH Zurich, Switzerland in 2002. In 2003 he moved to Canada and has worked on infrastructure and mining projects in the Arctic and mountain permafrost. He has been involved in consulting and research work related to preventing permafrost degradation and mitigating effects of climate change on northern transportation infrastructure. Lukas teaches permafrost engineering courses at universities and for industry, and published various scientific publications in the fields of frozen soil mechanics, permafrost engineering, rock glaciers and glaciology. Lukas is an Adjunct Professor at the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Manitoba. He was the recipient of the Troy L. Péwé award in 2003 and was awarded the Roger J. E. Brown Memorial Award from the Canadian Geotechnical Society in 2010 for his contributions to permafrost engineering research and to the cold regions engineering division. He is currently in the president of the Canadian Permafrost Association and chair of the 2024 International Permafrost Conference to be held in Whitehorse, YT.

Reducing landslide risk - Emerging challenges and novel technologies

Suzanne Lacasse, Ph.D., and Jean-Sébastien L'Heureux, Ph.D.

Norwegian Geotechnical Institute


The lecture discusses landslide risk reduction in view of recent technological advances and the impact of climate change. Society and standards increasingly require "risk-informed" decisions. The need for developing sustainable and holistic solutions is highlighted. New challenges reside in integrating emerging technologies, for example new models, results of physical testing, remote sensing to identify and quantify natural and man-made geohazards, and mobile interconnectivity and artificial intelligence solutions to rapidly update hazard, vulnerability and risk maps. The new knowledge then needs to be transformed into practical risk assessment and management guidance to reduce landslide risk. A digital approach to select mitigation measures and new nature-based solutions is explored. Examples contributing to increase knowledge and reduce landslide risk are presented, including the use of machine learning to predict the spatial occurrence of rainfall-induced landslides. The lecture proposes steps for enhancing landslide risk management, with special focus on: (1) the dynamics of risk because risk changes with time, (2) the need for improved understanding and communication, (3) using "lessons learned" from earlier events, and (4) responding with sustainable designs, with nature-based solutions. New technology and analytical solutions need to be exploited together to improve risk-informed decisions, reduce non-sustainable impacts and meet the challenges of climate change. The geotechnical profession's role is to serve society, and ultimately to save lives in landslide-prone regions.

BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Suzanne Lacasse

Dr Suzanne Lacasse did a Bachelor of Arts at University of Ottawa and her Civil Engineering education at École Polytechnique of Montréal and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). After 15 years on MIT's faculty, she moved to the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), Oslo. She was Managing Director of NGI from 1991 to 2012. She gave the 37th Terzaghi Lecture, the 55th Rankine Lecture and the 8th ISSMGE Terzaghi Oration. She is elected member of the National Academy of Engineers in the USA, Canada, Norway and France. She is Officer of the Order of Canada and a Knight of the First Order of the Falcon in Iceland.

BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Jean-Sébastien L'Heureux

Dr. Jean-Sébastien L'Heureux did a BSc Engineering Geology at Laval University, Québec, Canada, MSc in Geohazards at University of Oslo, Norway and PhD in Geotechnical Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU) before starting in 2012 at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI). He is presently Head of the NGI Trondheim office. His work focuses on landslides in sensitive clay and stability issues along fjords, and especially preconditioning and triggering factors for slope instability. He has experience related to landslide hazards, soil characterisation, geophysical interpretation and risk assessment and has served on several expert committee following landslide events.

Innovating for Tomorrow: Building on 125 years of Earthquake Monitoring in Canada

David MCCormack, Ph.D.

Natural Resources Canada


This year marks the 125th anniversary of systematic federal government earthquake monitoring in Canada. In that time, the data collected has allowed us to determine the statistical rates of earthquakes, their locations, and to start to understand the shaking they produce. Since 1953, this information has fed into successive seismic hazard maps for Canada, with the most recent model proposed for the 2020 National Building Code of Canada. Seismic hazard models provide the expected shaking levels during a building’s lifespan and, in conjunction with enforcement of building codes, can be used to set the appropriate level of protective earthquake engineering needed to avert, or at least significantly reduce, disasters. While the prediction of future earthquakes (i.e., date, location, size) is not possible, the advent of new technologies and the improved robustness of seismic monitoring networks permits the construction of Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) systems , providing a few to tens of seconds of warning prior to the arrival of strong shaking. Canada is currently installing EEW systems in western and southeastern Canada that will provide warning before strong earthquake shaking starts, allowing for mitigative actions such as shutting of gas valves and personal protective measures (e.g. drop, cover and hold-on). The system is scheduled to go live in 2024. Looking ahead, we forsee technological improvements permitting us to operate sensors in more and more remote and hostile environments, advances in signal detection and processing, and integration of ground and space-based sensor systems. These improvements open up the possibility of extending our monitoring coverage into the remotest Arctic, and being able to detect not just earthquakes but associated phenomena such as rockfalls and large landslides on a continental scale.


David McCormack is the Executive Director of the Canadian Hazards Information Service at Natural Resources Canada. As such, he is responsible for the operations of monitoring and alerting services in Canada for earthquakes and space weather, as well as ensuring Canada’s technical obligations are met under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Originally from Northern Ireland, he has a PhD in Earthquake Seismology from the University of Cambridge. He lives in Ottawa.

Flowslides in sensitive clays of eastern Canada

Pascal Locat, Ph.D. Candidate

Ministère des Transports du Québec


In Eastern Canada, mainly in Quebec and Ontario, silt-clay deposits, commonly referred to as "sensitive clays", cover the lowlands of the former Champlain, Laflamme and Goldthwait post-glacial seas. Under certain conditions, large landslides, also referred to "highly retrogressive landslides" (GFR) in Québec, can occur when the clay deposit is sufficiently sensitive. In some cases, the retrogression distances observed during these landslides can reach a few hundred meters, or even occasionally more than a kilometer. This phenomenon may therefore pose a major risk to people and infrastructures present in places where it is likely to occur. Certain regions of Quebec are particularly exposed to this hazard, since approximately 89% of its population lives within the limits of the former post-glacial seas.The presentation will focus specifically on the problem of Flow slides, which represents one of the main types of GFR. The synthesis of a recent compilation of these landslides, which were characterized using detailed in-depth geotechnical investigations and lidar surveys, will be presented. The geotechnical and geometric criteria, which for the most part were formulated during the decades 1970-1980, and which make it possible to assess whether a site is susceptible to Flow slides in sensitive clays, will be clarified and updated. In addition, recent work concerning the propagation of such phenomena will also be dealt with.


Pascal Locat obtained a college diploma in civil engineering in 1992 and worked as a geotechnical and building materials laboratory and field technician. His interest in the geotechnical field grew and he obtained his BSc in geological engineering in 2000 and his M.Sc. in civil engineering (geotechnical) in 2002, both from Université Laval. Since 2005, he has worked in the Mass Movements Section of the Québec Ministry of Transportation’s (MTQ’s) Directorate of Engineering and Engineering Geology, based in Quebec City. In this role, Pascal has carried out landslide susceptibility mapping, geotechnical studies and stabilization work in various parts of the province and is a technical advisor in cases of landslide emergencies. Since 2014, he has also been involved in various research projects carried out in collaboration with several Québec universities. Pascal is currently pursuing his doctorate in civil engineering associated with sensitive clay flowslides, at Université Laval, supervised by Serge  Leroueil and Jacques Locat. Pascal has been very active in the Eastern Quebec Section of the CGS and has helped organized the CGS annual conferences in 2004 and 2015, the 4th GeoHazards conference in 2008 and the 1st International Workshop on Landslides in Sensitive Clays in 2013, all held in Quebec City.