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GSI report from annual meeting at GeoAmericas

News | August 1, 2016 | By:

The Geosynthetic Institute (GSI) annual meeting was held April 11 in Miami, Fla. in conjunction with GeoAmericas 2016. There were 33 attendees representing 35% of the 80 active GSI member organizations. I want to thank all that were in attendance for their time and efforts.

The outline for the one-hour meeting included: welcome and overview, programs and activities, outreach programs, open discussion, and adjournment.

The GSI Board of Directors (BoD) was introduced. All but one were present (Dr. A. N. Desai of BTRA India was absent due to a prior commitment) and they attended the BoD meeting immediately following the GSI annual meeting.

BoD Terms of Office

  • Term ends 2016: Mark Wayne—geotextiles/geogrids, John Workman—owners/operators, Sam Allen—at large.
  • Term ends 2017: A. N. Desai—government agency, Edgard Chow—resin/additive, Kent von Maubeuge—international.
  • Term ends 2018: Tony Eith—consultants/testing labs, Nathan Ivy—geomembranes/GCLs, Moreno Scotto—international.


The first topic we discussed was the Institute’s activities since our last meeting at the 10th International Conference on Geosynthetics (10 ICG) 2014 in Berlin, Germany. A summary of activities of the five sub-institutes were discussed as follows:

GRI (Research)

  • landfill monitoring, drainage, degradation
  • lifetime of exposed GMs, GGs, TRMs, and GTs
  • MSE wall failures and remediation
  • pH and durability of PET GGs
  • geomembrane axisymmetric behavior
  • GCL shrinkage study
  • GT tube drainage study
  • CCRs and red mud studies
  • EVOH, high temperature, extended stress crack geomembranes
  • dart drop (dynamic test) test development for film-sheet-geomembrane
  • high-strength yarn wide strip width tensile testing
  • updating of four GRI standards and five specifications

GEI (Education)

  • 70 PowerPoint® presentations on CDs
  • many in-house presentations
  • one-day short courses (LF design, QC/QA, wall failures)
  • others also available as requested
  • 38 webinars were given in 2015 (we give PDHs)
  • Designing with Geosynthetics course development
  • 21 presentations were given in 11 different countries

GII (Information)

  • reconfigured GSI website
  • most recent survey; “LLRW and UMT in USA”
  • MSE failures and remediation soil slope stabilization using anchored GSs
  • Report #43 Most Difficult Q’s & A’s of GMA Techline developed
  • Report #44 Lifetime Prediction of 14 Geosynthetics developed
  • geotextiles book development (it is now published)
  • 30 visits by members to GSI in 2015

GCI (Certification)

  • MSE Wall Inspection (ongoing)
  • QA/QC of Liner Systems (see chart)

GSIcertGAI (Accreditation)

  • program began January, 1995
  • ISO 17025 is the model
  • on-site audits (years 1, 5, 10, etc.)
  • accredit only geosynthetic labs:
  • 18 in 2015 and 11 in 2016
  • 89 labs, 19 different countries, 240 possible tests
  • proficiency tests every year:
  • 2,037 conducted in 2015 with 8 outliers (0.3% of total)
  • our goal is to get Cv < 10
  • 12 conflict resolutions in 2015
  • customer survey results: 4.2 (worst 1, best 5)

Next on the agenda, we spoke of future activities at the Institute and discussed upcoming conferences and symposia that we will be attending in the next year. We then talked about GSI’s Outreach Programs from the past year. All were in agreement that Educate-the-Educators was a success. Dr. Hsieh (NPUST) and Dr. Jeon (INHA University) spoke about GSI’s affiliated institutes, GSI Taiwan and GSI Korea, respectively. Then the GSI Fellowship program was discussed. It was agreed that allowing students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees should continue (12 $5,000 fellowships were given out in 2015). As the Outreach Program discussion concluded, it was mentioned that Bob Koerner, GSI director emeritus, has answered more than 3,000 questions to date from the GMA Techline (

To conclude the meeting, we communicated our current interpretation of defining “What is a geomembrane?” Geomembranes have been used in 46 different application areas and counting. They provide containment areas such as environmental, geotechnical, hydraulic, transportation, and private development.

A timeline of both plastics and geomembranes was presented followed by an overview of ASTM definitions for a geomembrane, film, and sheeting. This discussion was all leading up to two relatively thin barrier materials that have seen increasing use in our industry. These barriers are pictured here (Figures 2 and 3), which leads to the subject of new specifications for both materials.

FIGURE 2 GM22 barrier material
FIGURE 2 GM22 barrier material

GRI GM22, Standard Specification for “Test Methods, Required Properties and Testing Frequencies for Scrim Reinforced Polyethylene Barriers Used in Exposed Temporary Applications”—This specification was developed by the Geosynthetic Research Institute (GRI) with the cooperation of the member organizations for general use by the public. The specification covers scrim reinforced polyethylene barriers in thicknesses of 0.50mm (20mil), 0.30mm (12mil) and 0.20mm (8mil). The specification sets forth a set of minimum physical, mechanical, and durability properties that must be met, or exceeded, by the material being produced in the context of a manufacturing quality control (MQC) system.

FIGURE 3 GM30 barrier material
FIGURE 3 GM30 barrier material

Complementing the above, we have a second new specification, this one for “Test Methods, Test Properties and Testing Frequency for Coated Tape Polyethylene (cPE) Barriers.” This specification, GRI GM30, was developed to cover coated tape polyethylene barriers in three thickness categories. Woven coated materials are high-strength, light-weight products, suitable for many containment needs. Roll goods can be fabricated into very large custom panels so that field seaming can be minimized. Different thicknesses reflect both varying vapor transmission and mechanical property strength values. The base fabric for this type of barrier is a woven tape (also called slit film or split film) polyethylene textile that is then polyethylene coated on one or both sides for the final product. The specification joins the other 13 generic specifications for geomembranes/barriers that are available on the GSI website:

Online geosynthetics course now available

The Geosynthetic Institute’s online Designing with Geosynthetics course is now available. The complete distance learning course follows exactly the 914-page Designing with Geosynthetics textbook and it is now available by using the Adobe Connect platform.

Subdivided into 15 sections, each of the 1,540 slides has a brief voice-over describing it as contrasted to the relevant page in the textbook. In this regard, an e-book version of the textbook (available for $7) should accompany these newly prepared course notes so as to provide a one-to-one comparison.
The total effort is comparable to a complete academic year of geosynthetics, as has been taught for many years at Drexel University and other colleges and universities as well.

The total online course is available from GSI for $1,000 (members) or $3,000 (non-members) and the viewing window is open for six months. If desired, a certificate of completion is available upon successfully passing a 150-question multiple-choice examination (i.e., 10 questions per section).
Please contact Marilyn Ashley (, Jamie Koerner ( or Bob Koerner ( for any questions or further details.

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