ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
As one of the most important branches of civil engineering, geotechnical engineering probably has the longest history of development. Some of the first geotechnical construction activities were traced back in the form of irrigation and flood control dykes, dams, and canals in ancient Egypt that were built as early as 2000 years ago. Up until the 18th century, however, all knowledge was limited in the form of an art than a science relying largely on past experiences. It was only in the 19th century that geotechnical engineering started to build its theoretical basis. In about the past 200 years, this discipline has developed extensively; yet the basic theories and principles remain the same but what have changed in recent times are experimental techniques, advances in numerical modeling, and design standards. Today, the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) brings together all geotechnical engineering professionals and researchers into a single forum and streamlines any further development of this discipline.
As a matter of fact, the gap in practicing geotechnical engineering principles between the developed and developing nations is immensely wide. Many developing nations do not adequately consider geotechnical engineering design in infrastructure development and building construction. Nepal, for example, despite having established a national geotechnical society as well as producing geotechnical engineers through graduate programs, lacks proper geotechnical design guidelines for roads, bridges, and buildings. Natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, and floods, which frequently hit Nepal and are one of the major development hurdles in the country have also not been adequately studied and explored from geotechnical engineering perspectives. It is therefore important that the research and technological know-how the developed nations have developed is transferred to the practicing nations. As a disaster-prone country in the central Himalayas, Nepal particularly suffers from frequent landslides and floods in an annual basis, but the threat of earthquake disasters is far greater than the decades of landslide and flood disaster damages.
For instance, the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake (Mw7.8) claimed about 9000 people, left behind a large number of people homeless, and extended widespread damage to the national infrastructure and building structures. Likewise, the Jure landslide of 2014 killed 156 people and dammed up the Sunkoshi River for a few days. The landslide dam obstructed the operation of the Nepal-China roadway and disconnected the people of Sindhupalchowk district from Kathmandu. Lidi landslide in 2020 also swept away most of the houses of a village in Sindhupalchowk district and claimed over 40 people. More recently in June 2021, the Melamchi debris and flood disasters claimed more than 20 people and damaged the intake facilities of the Melamchi Water supply Project. All these frequently occurring disasters are evident that the geohazards and geo-infra disasters are very intact in our life, but what we still lack in Nepal is a reflection of the lessons we learn from these events in our engineering and management practices.
As a developing nation with an insignificant number of geotechnical engineering-related infrastructures so far, Nepal has recognized geotechnical engineering still as a minor field of engineering! Today, however, there are many ongoing national pride infrastructure development projects including four-lane fast track highway construction, roadway tunnels, multipurpose high gravity dams, underground structures, long-span bridges, heavy aircraft runways, and many others that necessitate precise knowledge of geotechnical engineering in order to reduce the risk of geo-infra disasters in the future. So, through this international conference series, we expect that the geotechnical engineering community in Nepal will be able to appeal to all stakeholders of Nepal as well as to our international colleagues our unique geohazard types, and geo-infra disaster issues in the Nepal Himalaya and share the problems and learn the solutions.
We plan to hold this conference series every two years. GeoMandu, the conference series name represents the international conference in the field of geotechnical engineering held in Kathmandu. The conference theme will change every two years, and this year we have chosen “Geohazards and Geo-Infra Disasters.”
Many Asian nations suffer from various types of natural disasters every year. Recent world disaster reports indicate that of the total annual disaster loss in the world, Asia alone contributes about 70%. In Asia too, the nations in the pacific ring of fire and the Himalayan region suffer the most in earthquake- and rain-induced natural disasters. Among the Himalayan region nations, Nepal probably suffers the most on an annual basis. So, primarily focusing on geohazards and geo-infra disasters, this international conference is being held to meet the following objectives.
- Create a pool of minds for enhancing geotechnical engineering practices
- Provide a platform to share and disseminate information on recent developments in geotechnical engineering and geohazards.
- Create a platform to act as a whistleblower for the dire need of attention of the government institutions on geo-hazards and geo-infra disasters towards development policy formulation.
- Appeal to the world geo-community the activities of Nepal Geotechnical Society and draw the world attention for an intensified development of geotechnical engineering and geosciences in Nepal.
- Appeal to the government authorities of Nepal as well as all stakeholders the need of strengthening geotechnical engineering design and construction guidelines in infrastructure development and construction activities.