Geohazard Assessment & Management

Applying hazard & risk management techniques at all levels of the decision-making process

At BGC, we have a long and successful record of developing and implementing risk management frameworks to protect people and infrastructure from geohazards related to water, soil, rock, snow, and ice. This broad experience allows BGC to efficiently integrate the analysis, evaluation, and mitigation of various geohazard risks.

BGC is a global leader in geohazard assessment, risk assessment, and mitigation design, with engineers and geoscientists specializing in the analysis of a variety of geohazard process types, including earth and debris slides, rock falls, debris flows and debris floods, floods and erosion, seismic hazards, liquefaction, permafrost hazards, snow avalanches, and subsidence.

Geohazards affect all types of development, and BGC has broad experience and expertise in assessing and managing geohazards for a wide range of proposed or existing infrastructure and industries, including highways and access roads, railroads, pipelines, electrical transmission lines, mining development, residential development, recreation areas and parks, and industrial development.

Using innovative methods and forefront technologies, BGC provides the full range of geohazard management services to identify, assess, and mitigate risks due to geohazards.

Geohazard Recognition

Geohazards are often unrecognized until disaster strikes. BGC excels at recognizing, classifying, and quantifying geohazards before a catastrophic event occurs using a multidisciplinary skillset that includes:

  • Field-based reconnaissance and hazard mapping
  • Aerial photograph mapping
  • Digital terrain analysis based on high-resolution remote sensing imagery
  • Monitoring and characterization based on earth observation
  • Stratigraphy mapping in test trenches and natural exposures

Site Characterization

BGC routinely carries out site investigation programs to characterize hazard sites. This work often includes:

  • Detailed field and aerial imagery mapping
  • Test pitting and stratigraphic analysis
  • Geotechnical drilling, testing, and sampling
  • Ground motion monitoring, laboratory testing
  • Installation of borehole instrumentation.

Instrumentation & Monitoring

BGC is experienced with the selection and installation of a wide variety of surface and borehole instrumentation types, including GNSS/GPS rain gauges, piezometers, slope inclinometers, and extensometers (crackmeters). Our in-house team of database and web-design specialists routinely create web tools that allow stakeholders to view monitoring data in real-time from any location with an internet connection. BGC also commonly applies innovative, state-of-the-art remote sensing methods, such as lidar, photogrammetry, and InSAR, to create digital topographic models, identify geohazards, and detect topographic changes caused by geohazard processes.

Hazard Assessment

Maps are a primary tool for communicating hazards to stakeholders. BGC provides hazard assessments that are individually tailored to specific projects and typically involve estimating:

  • Hazard frequency (probability)
  • Hazard magnitude (size)
  • Hazard intensity (depth, velocity, runout distance)

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment combines the results from the hazard assessment with the potential consequences of geohazard events. Potential consequences include loss of life, economic losses, or environmental damage. A clear understanding of risk is critical for decision-making, including the creation of site development plans, infrastructure design, and measures to reduce risk to tolerable levels. The results of risk assessments can be used to:

  • Prioritize the allocation of funds and resources for mitigation
  • Compare risk from different processes (e.g., landslides and flooding)
  • Providing a framework to compare individual and group risk against corporate or legislated standards
  • Evaluate site or route selection options
  • Inform regional and site-specific land use planning decisions

Risk Reduction Strategies

BGC is experienced in working with our clients to communicate geohazard risks and develop strategies to manage and reduce those risks. Our expertise includes the development of conceptual risk reduction options; stakeholder engagement and option evaluation; detailed design; and engineering services during procurement and construction. Several options are typically available to reduce geohazard risks, including:

  • Land use or infrastructure planning to avoid the hazard
  • Warning systems based on monitoring thresholds
  • Stabilization to prevent hazard occurrence
  • Surface water and groundwater management
  • Flow diversion or conveyance away from elements at risk
  • Barriers or basins to capture rocks, sediment, or debris

Geohazard Asset Management System

BGC has been designing and operating geohazard management programs for railway and pipeline operators since the mid-1990s. BGC helped develop CN Rail’s geohazard management program which is focused on a risk-based rock fall rating system and currently manages Geohazard Integrity programs for more than 440,000 kilometers of oil and gas pipelines. We have developed state-of-the-art geohazard asset management systems for the Alberta Ministry of Transportation, focusing on flood and debris flow hazards, and a multi-hazard management system for a privately-owned railway in eastern Canada. Geohazard management programs typically involve:

  • Geohazard risk-based prioritization
  • Development of data management and implementation of a monitoring and inspection program
  • Design and implementation of risk reduction strategies