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AMEC wins award for rockslide warning system

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa.—AMEC won a 2006 Canadian Consulting Engineers Award of Excellence for a project to warn the public of a rockslide at notorious Turtle Mountain in Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass. The Turtle Mountain project was one of the award-winning projects selected by the jury from a total of 50 entries. This is the second award for the project this year; it also received a Consulting Engineers of Alberta award in February.











The Turtle Mountain project involved creating a high-tech rockslide monitoring and warning system for the South Peak of Turtle Mountain, site of one of Canada’s worst natural disasters, the 1903 Frank Slide, which killed 70 people. AMEC conducted the project with a team of sub-consultants, specialized contractors, and research organizations though Alberta Municipal Affairs, with technical guidance provided by the Alberta Geological Survey/Alberta Energy & Utilities Board.

The Turtle Mountain project represents a state-of-the-art application of geotechnical monitoring technology to reduce landslide risk to communities in Alberta. The project involved both drilled-hole and surface installations of various types of monitoring devices that will measure any movement down to the subtlest, micron-sized shift. One deep hole drilled into the mountainside contains geophones, vibrating wire piezometers, and thermistors to detect movements and changes in conditions around the South Peak. In addition, an optical televiewer was run down the hole by University of Calgary researchers to detect the locations of cracks and cavities in the rock mass.

This project provided research into the stability and behavior of folded and faulted rock masses in the Canadian Rockies. In addition, the network of instrumentation at Turtle Mountain comprises a field laboratory for research on landslides and development of monitoring instrumentation.

By providing a near real-time monitoring system for landslide movement at the South Peak of Turtle Mountain, the project may save lives. The fully operational monitoring system will provide a warning to communities at risk of an impending rockslide and prompt an emergency response program to evacuate residents. The project advanced the practice of geotechnical engineering in western Canada, including furthering the use of satellite-borne, Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) landslide monitoring technology.