Short Course on Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering and Liquefaction planned for 2025

ANCOLD  are in the initial stages of planning in-person training about the theory behind geotechnical earthquake engineering and the application of numerical models for engineering problems involving soil liquefaction. 

The topics to be covered include:

  • Background and general overview of geotechnical earthquake engineering and the ANCOLD Guidelines,
  • Refresher of underlying soil mechanics principles,
  • Key engineering properties and seismic inputs and how to obtain them,
  • Review of analysis approaches,
  • Application to real-world examples, and
  • Application training

The course would be geared toward participants already having some level of familiarity with geotechnical earthquake engineering and soil liquefaction / cyclic softening during earthquakes, and ideally the computer program FLAC/FLAC2D (but not essential). The course will include a review of background information and underlying fundamentals, but the focus will be more on details and procedures important to using the numerical models in practice.

The second day of the course will focus on the constitutive model PM4Sand (and PM4Silt to a lesser extent). It will include

  • formulation of PM4Sand (and PM4Silt) models?;
  • calibration procedures for engineering applications (single element simulations of various loading paths;
  • capabilities and limitations) for both models;
  • hands-on calibration exercises;
  • challenges and lessons learnt from certain calibrations; and
  • a general discussion on the need for the element-level calibrations and system-level analyses to be informing each other


PM4Sand and PM4Silt were developed to model liquefaction and cyclic softening in susceptible soils when subject to earthquake ground motions using non-linear dynamic analyses. The PM4Sand and PM4Silt models are stress ratio-controlled, critical state-compatible, bounding surface plasticity constitutive models developed by Boulanger and Ziotopoulou over the past decade for earthquake engineering applications. They are implemented as user-defined dynamic link libraries for use in Itasca’s FLAC2D program.

NOTE: ANCOLD is not promoting these software packages as being preferred in Australia but recognises that many of our members are/will use this software, and we have an opportunity to upskill our industry through training facilitated by the key developers of these packages, Ross Boulanger & Katerina Ziotopoulou (PM4Sand and PM4Silt)

The proposed locations are to be determined.

Tentative dates are as follows:

Training Location 1, 17-18 March 2025

Training Location 2, 20-21 March 2025

If you are interested in attending and would like to be added to the ANCOLD mailing list. Please complete the form below.

Ross W. Boulanger, PhD, PE, NAE Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis, CA
Katerina Ziotopoulou, PhD, PE (online) Associate Professor, University of California, Davis, CA
Alfonso Cerna-Diaz, PhD, PE Geotechnical Engineer, AECOM, Denver, CO

Ross W. Boulanger is an independent consulting civil engineer and a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis. He received his BASc degree in Civil Engineering from the University of British Columbia in 1986, followed by his MS and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. His tenure at UC Davis from 1992 through 2023 included 14 years as Director of the Center for Geotechnical Modeling. His over 300 publications are primarily related to liquefaction and its remediation, seismic performance of dams and levees, and seismic soil-structure interaction. His consulting roles involve serving on technical review boards for a range of dam, tunnel, and infrastructure projects. His honors include the Casagrande Award, Huber Prize, Norman Medal, and Peck Award from ASCE, the Ishihara Lecture from the ISSMGE, and election to the US National Academy of Engineering.

Katerina Ziotopoulou is an Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Davis and a licensed Professional Engineer in California. She received her 5-year diploma degree in Civil Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), Greece and her MS and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from UC Davis. She specializes in geotechnical earthquake engineering with an emphasis on the investigation of ground failure due to earthquake-induced liquefaction and cyclic softening, and its mitigation. She combines the development of advanced numerical tools with multiscale experimental methods and data analytics, the establishment of validation protocols, and the upscaling to system-level analyses of case histories. She is passionate about teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. She has been honored with the Casagrande Professional Development Award, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and the ISSMGE Young Researcher Award.

Alfonso is a geotechnical engineer at AECOM in Denver, Colorado, working in mining projects for large tailings dam facilities in the US and worldwide. Alfonso holds a PhD in geotechnical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), a MS degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería (UNI) in Lima Peru. Alfonso has focused most of his practice and research on geotechnical engineering for dams, including topics as material characterization, soil liquefaction triggering estimation and mitigation, laboratory and centrifuge testing, soil dynamics, nonlinear site response analysis, consolidation analysis, advanced static and dynamic deformation analysis, static liquefaction and instrumentation, in-situ testing, slope stability under static and dynamic conditions, and soil-structure interaction. Alfonso’s practice and research also includes validation and back-analysis of tailings dam case histories using 2D/3D advanced coupled numerical modelling to enhance performance-based design evaluations. He a is member of the ASCE Geo-Institute and GEER.

Alfonso is a co-author on the 2024 award-winning ASTM paper, “A Multidirectional Cyclic Direct Simple Shear Device for Characterizing Dynamic Soil Behavior,” which appeared in the ASTM Geotechnical Testing Journal. The annual Hogentogler Award is presented to the authors of an ASTM paper of outstanding merit on soil or rock and is the most prestigious technical award given by ASTM Committee D18.

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