December 4th & 5th, 2013
9:00 am to 5:00 pm
The Holiday Inn (Georgian Rooms B &C)
1696 Regent Street, Sudbury Ontario

Course Description

Understanding uncertainty in geomaterials is a key issue in mining and geotechnical projects. In addition to the inherent uncertainty due to natural variability of geomaterials, knowledge based uncertainty involving testing, transformation and modeling errors also plays a critical role in design.
In underground excavations such as mines and tunnels, this uncertainty poses a significant challenge for obtaining reliable support design or hazard prediction calculations, leading to a residual risk during construction. Despite this, present design methods have yet to adopt a logical basis for describing this uncertainty and assessing its impact on performance. This is particularly true for problems involving feedback between ground response and support capacity, such as bolting and lining systems.

While several approaches are available to incorporate uncertainty into design, most deal with it subjectively and qualitatively – examples of these methodologies will be discussed with consideration of their utility and limitations. Reliability methods on the other hand, incorporate the uncertainty in material properties and in situ stress conditions directly into the design process. This allows for an assessment of system performance and risk by determining the probability of failure for a given design option. Examples of quantitative reliability analysis will be worked through in an interactive manner to demonstrate the potential of this method.

This workshop provides an overview of sources of uncertainty in geotechnical projects as well as a series of simple reliability-based tools that can help deal with uncertainty in design. A number of project examples from both the geotechnical and mining fields will then be presented to show the usefulness of these tools. Participants will also have an opportunity to use geotechnical modeling software (courtesy of Rocscience Inc.) to analyze a case study as a group and assess the performance for a series of design options. Finally, a panel discussion will be held to discuss how risk sharing can better be incorporated into the design process and contracts.

Course Instructors

Dr. Connor Langford graduated from Geological Engineering at Queen’s University in 2008. He then worked for two years at Hatch and Hatch Mott MacDonald (HMM) as an engineer-in-training. During this time, he was exposed to aspects of engineering design, construction management and commissioning. He recently completed his Ph.D. (Queen’s University, 2013) in geological engineering, with a focus on the use of reliability methods in the design of underground support systems. Connor currently works for Rocscience Inc as a consultant.

Dr. Mark Diederichs joined Queen’s University and the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering in 2001. Previously, Dr. Diederichs had spent 10 years involved with numerous institutional and industrially supported research organizations including the Rock Engineering Group at the University of Toronto, The Canadian Mining Research Directorate, CSIRO (Australia) and The Geomechanics Research Centre in Sudbury. Immediately prior to his appointment at Queen’s, Dr. Diederichs spent 2 years acting as an independant research and development consultant to the mining industry. Dr. Diederichs is a graduate of programs in Geological Engineering (1987, B.A.Sc., 1990 M.A.Sc., University of Toronto) and Civil Engineering (2000, Ph.D. University of Waterloo).


To register and inquire about this short course, please contact Courtney Folz at or 705.673.6568 x72.

Registration Fee: General: $250 + HST / Student: $150 +HST

Deadline to register is November 29, 2013. Course materials, lunch and refreshments will be provided.