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Retrospective of 25 GRI conferences

News | August 1, 2015 | By:

The Geosynthetic Research Institute was founded in 1986 at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa., with the purpose of conducting research and development on all types, functions, and applications of geosynthetics used in the constructed environment and its infrastructure.

With R & D at the core of the activity it was natural that archival publications would be the preferred outlet for information dissemination. This goal led directly to the initiation of conferences with accompanying proceedings. To date, there have been 25 such conferences consisting of 600 individual papers and 5,015 participants. This communication is a retrospective on these conferences. All have hard copy and electronic versions of individual papers and each individual conference has a bound proceedings volume. The conference chronology is seen in Table 1.

Conf. No. Year Theme No. of Papers Attendance
GRI-1 1987 Soft Soil Stabilization 15 60
GRI-2 1988 Durability and Aging 21 112
GRI-3 1989 Seaming of Geosynthetics 27 170
GRI-4 1990 Landfill Closures 23 190
GRI-5 1991 Filtration and Drainage 20 172
GRI-6 1992 Quality Control/Quality Assurance 26 223
GRI-7 1993 Geosynthetic Liner Systems 21 282
GRI-8 1994 Resins, Formulations and Manufacturing 26 223
GRI-9 1995 Geosynthetics in Infrastructure 21 195
GRI-10 1996 Field Performance of Geosynthetics 19 243
GRI-11 1997 Field Installation of Geosynthetics 24 295
GRI-12 1998 Lessons Learned from Problems 24 225
GRI-13 1999 Geosynthetics in the Future 36 250
GRI-14 2000 Hot Topics in Geosynthetics-I 33 244
GRI-15 2001 Hot Topics in Geosynthetics-II 20 180
GRI-16 2002 Hot Topics in Geosynthetics-III 24 147
GRI-17 2003 Hot Topics in Geosynthetics-IV (w/NAGS) 22 203
GRI-18 2005 Research & Development In-Progress (w/ASCE) 69 242
GRI-19 2005 Hot Topics in Geosynthetics-V (w/NAGS) 17 190
GRI-20 2007 Terrorism and Natural Disasters (w/ASCE) 19 175
GRI-21 2008 Agriculture and Aquaculture (w/IGS) 15 250
GRI-22 2009 “It’s All in the Details” (w/IFAI) 17 175
GRI-23 2010 Durability: Field and Laboratory (w/ASCE) 19 155
GRI-24 2011 Optimizing Sustainability (w/IGS) 20 170
GRI-25 2013 25-Year Retrospective (w/IFAI) 22 185
TOTALS 600 5,015

While these themes were discrete from one another, there have been common patterns established over the years. They are shown in the pie charts (Figures 1, 2, 3) describing the author’s occupation, geosynthetic being addressed, and the application category.


Figure 1 shows that manufacturers/representatives, designers/test labs, and academia (faculty and institutes) have given the large majority of the papers (87%). Of course, regulators and owners are critically important to us all and it’s nice to see them represented at 6% each. Unfortunately, installer/contractors were largely absent as far as prepared papers were concerned but many were present at the individual events. After all, this group makes all of us either “sink-or-swim”!
Figure 2 shows that geomembranes and geotextiles are the “big two” (48%), with all others being reasonably represented. The “General “ category was for papers representing all geosynthetics but not in a specified manner.

Figure 3 shows that lifetime/durability issues along with design/specification topics represented 44% of the total. Interestingly, while few installers prepared papers, their “product” was critically important and represented 18% of the papers. Clogging, seams, strength, and general information were all represented each with about 10% of the total.

At the risk of slighting any one author/presenter during these past 25 conferences, we would like to single out an individual who was always memorable in the six papers that he wrote and delivered. He is Bob Denis, vice president of Solmax International. Bob’s six titles were:

GRI–11: Field Implications of Requiring Flat Geomembranes
GRI–13: Darwinian View of Geosynthetic Field Quality Control
GRI–14: We Offer Quality, Price, and Service … But You Can Only Choose 2 out of 3
GRI–15: We’re Ready!
GRI–17: The Twilight Zone
GRI–21:The Need of Ongoing Research for the Health and Welfare of the Geosynthetics Industry

For those who have heard Bob present, it was always a joy: entertaining, insightful, challenging, and instructive. We have collected his six papers. If you want a CD, please advise accordingly.

That said, we would be remiss if we didn’t congratulate all paper preparers and presenters involved over the years. You are each individually important to us at the institute and are indeed leaders of the geosynthetics industry. Thank you so much for sharing your intellectual knowledge and companionship during the past 25 years!

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