Slope Stability and Landslides


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Course Overview

After attending this course, you will have a firm grasp of the background necessary to participate in and contribute to the practice, including industry-leading information on standard-of-care for analysis, design, and remediation of unstable slopes, landslides, retention systems, excavations, and embankments. Learn from expert and diverse course faculty. After attending Slope Stability and Landslides, you will understand

  • The mechanics of slope stability failures, both in soil and rock slopes
  • Engineering properties of soil and rock media
  • Effective engineering and geological approaches to identify and analyze unstable slopes
  • How landslides and other slope displacements caused by natural and human activities are identified, analyzed, prevented, and controlled
  • The importance of engineering, geology, and local experience in effectively dealing with landslides and slope instabilities

Who Should Attend?

Who Should Attend?

  • Civil and geotechnical engineers
  • Employees with geological surveys and water boards
  • Consultants and investigation/laboratory subcontractors
  • Geological engineers and geoscientists
  • Facility managers and physical plant engineers
  • Earthwork contractors and estimators
  • Architects and landscape architects
  • Utility engineers and managers
  • Local, county, and state transportation commissioners and staff
  • Engineers and contractors for military facilities
  • Lawyers and mediation professionals

Course Outline

Day 1 — Soil Stability Analysis Interpretation, and implementation

Introduction, Expectations, and Objectives

  • The 4 G’s of Slope Stability
    • Geology
    • Geometry
    • Geotechnical
    • HydroGeology
  • Slope Failures, Movements, and Processes
    • Features and Geometry of Instability
    • Failure Processes
    • Type and Rate of Movements

Fundamentals of Soil Strength

  • Strength 101
    • Mohr-Coulomb Failure Criterion
    • Effective Stress versus Total Stress
    • State of Stress and Stress Change
  • Laboratory Measurement of Strength
    • Simple Shear Tests
    • Triaxial Testing
    • Direct Shear
  • Typical Soil Properties
  • Selection of Design Shear Strengths
  • In Situ Measurement of Shear Strength

Slope Stability Investigation and Reporting

  • Scoping the field investigation
  • Understanding soil and rock bore logs
  • Interpreting soils reports

Earth Pressures and Stresses

  • Total and effective stresses
  • Distribution of loads to underlying deposits
  • Effects of water table fluctuations
  • Dynamic effects on soil

Importance of Water in Slope Stability Analysis—Groundwater Levels, Seepage Pressures, and Pore Pressures

  • Groundwater Effects on Slope Stability
  • Measuring or estimating soil permeability
  • Seepage forces and buoyancy effects
  • Porewater Pressure
  • The Porewater Pressure Parameter

Group Project/Case Study


Geological Aspects of Slope Stability

  • Jahnsian Steps to Landslide Investigations
    • Recognize
    • Characterize
    • Analyze
    • Stabilize

Fundamentals of Soil Slope Stability Concepts and Analysis with Examples

  • Mechanics of Limit Equilibrium
  • Slope Stability Analysis Methods
  • Selection of the Analysis Method
  • Reinforced slopes
  • Deformation Analysis
  • Finite Element Method (FEM)
  • Example Slope Stability Programs
  • Program Demonstration 

Comprehensive Slope Stability Analysis/Design Reporting

  • Regional and Project Geology
  • Hydrology
  • Seismology
  • Site Description and Work Proposed
  • Project Subsurface Exploration
  • Stability Analyses
    • Method
    • Groundwater Levels and Seepage Conditions
    • Tabulation and Material Property Values for each Load Condition
    • Verification of Results
  • Recommendations and Results

Rock Slope Investigation and Rock Mechanics for Slopes

  • Research and Field Preparation
  • Rock slope investigation
    • Rock type, discontinuity orientation, geometry, water conditions
    • ID rock structures and possible failure modes
    • Methods to estimate shear strength of discontinuities
  • Mapping
  • Rock Mechanics for Slopes
    • Important engineering properties of rock for slopes


Slope Stabilization Methods

  • Soil Compaction and Improvement
  • Buttressing
  • Drainage
  • Structural systems

Remediation of Rock Slopes

  • Rock slope remediation techniques
    • Rock removal (scaling)
    • Rock reinforcement
    • Protection measures

Rock Slope Case Studies

  • Quarry slope case study
  • Rock toppling case study

Advancing Topics in Slope Stability and Landslides

  • Stability of landfill systems
  • Asset management
  • Risk assessment
  • Remote sensing and instrumentation
  • Rock falls
  • Debris flows
  • Emerging climate risks


“A practical and multidisciplinary course that also combined the theoretical/mathematical with current ground experience.”

Imogen Crawford, Statkraft

“Needed a soils refresher and to dig deeper into slope stability solutions etc. Was a great course.”

Michelle Hase, Wisconsin DNR

“I now have a much better understanding of the mechanics of the failure and solutions for the problems. Every session was informative.”

Danny K. Grimm, Hannah Engineering

“The information I obtained will help me with my job as a regulator.”

Greg Baptist - CISEC 

“Hands down the most comprehensive, practical, and useful slope stability course I’ve attended. I thoroughly enjoyed the diversity and expertise brought by multiple instructors.”

Steve Carroll, Ducks Unlimited

“Very informative and a good refresher...5’s for all instructors.”

Jeff Richardson, City of Medicine Hat, AB

“The course was fantastic! I appreciate all the instructors offering their specialized expertise on each topic.”

Vicki Voight. Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Geological Survey


William Likos

William Likos, PE, is the Gary Wendt Professor and Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Likos’ expertise is in the area of geotechnical engineering, with particular emphasis on unsaturated soil mechanics and expansive clay behavior. Unsaturated soil mechanics is widely considered one of the most important frontiers in geotechnical engineering, with historical applications in slope and excavation stability, foundation engineering, and expansive soil hazards and emerging applications in waste containment, energy, and sustainability. Dr. Likos has established himself as a national leader in this area by publishing one of the first textbooks dedicated to the subject, publishing extensively in the top refereed journals, and serving in leadership roles on national committees. 

James Tinjum

Dr. James M. Tinjum, PE, is responsible for outreach, research, and continuing engineering education in the areas of geotechnical, geoenvironmental, and energy geotechnics with an emphasis on transmitting practical research applications directly to the engineering community. Over the past 15 years, he has specialized (consulting, expert support, and research) in foundation investigation, monitoring, and research into foundations for wind turbine generators. 

Dale Marcum

Dale Marcum, PE, is a Principle Geologic Engineer, Cotton, Shires and Associates, Inc., Los Gatos, California. Dale has a background in both geology and engineering.  He managed to earn a bachelor’s degree in geology at Western State College of Colorado, despite the local skiing and fishing opportunities.  Following graduation, he spent three years working as a geotechnical consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This was soon after the 198282 El Nino storms that caused extensive slope stability problems in Northern California, so many of the projects Mr. Marcum worked on during this time period involved investigating and repairing landslides.  Wanting to learn more about the engineering aspects of landslide remediation, Mr. Marcum returned to academia, and earned a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering at U.C. Berkeley.  At Berkeley, due to his background in geology and studying rocks, Mr. Marcum focused his interests on rock mechanics. 

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Program Director

James Tinjum

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