Geohazard Assessment & Management
Applying hazard & risk management techniques at all levels of the decision-making process
BGC’s engineers, geoscientists, and software specialists help clients manage landslide, flood, permafrost, seismic, snow avalanche, and ground deformation hazard and risks at scales ranging from single sites to thousands of hazards impacting global asset portfolios. Our expertise spans the full range of steps to analyze, evaluate and control risk through both structural and non-structural approaches to operations planning, policy, and regulation.
We help clients with the full cycle of safety and economic risk management for assets that include road and rail transportation networks, electrical generation and transmission infrastructure, resource extraction and waste management, and residential development. Through the translation of complex data into a clear basis for decision-making, we help clients make sense of risk, implement controls where needed most, and understand the level of risk reduction that has been achieved.
Geohazards are often unrecognized until disaster strikes. BGC recognizes, classifies, and quantifies geohazards before a catastrophic event occurs. Our services include:
- Field-based reconnaissance and hazard mapping
- Analyses of aerial photographs, visible satellite imagery, Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (INSAR), and lidar (Light Detection and Ranging)
- Stratigraphy mapping in test trenches and natural exposures.
BGC routinely carries out site investigation programs to characterize hazard sites. This work often includes detailed field and aerial photograph mapping; test pitting and stratigraphic analysis; geotechnical drilling, testing, and sampling; ground motion monitoring, laboratory testing; and installation of borehole instrumentation.
BGC is experienced with the selection and installation of a variety of instrumentation types including rain gauges, piezometers, slope inclinometers, and extensometers (crackmeters).
Hazard maps often combine the results of the hazard recognition and site characterization phases with detailed analyses. 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:
- Where the hazard area is (extent)
- What the chance is that the hazard will occur (likelihood, frequency)
- How big and destructive it will be (magnitude, intensity).
Risk assessments combine assessments of hazards and their consequences, such as 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. Risk assessments address questions such as:
- What is the likelihood of losses to persons, buildings, or infrastructure?
- Is the risk intolerable (should we take steps to reduce risk)?
- How can we communicate risks with clarity to subject matter specialists, decision-makers, and the public?
BGC helps clients both reduce geohazard risk and understand the level of risk reduction that has been achieved. We develop conceptual risk reduction options; facilitate stakeholder engagement and option evaluation; prepare detailed designs; and provide engineering services during procurement and construction. Options typically available to reduce geohazard risk include:
- 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.
BGC developed the Cambio Geohazard Management System to support risk-informed decision-making by the government and major industries. Cambio users include pipeline, railway, and energy utility operators, transportation authorities, mining operators, and governments tasked with community planning, regulation, and emergency management. For major infrastructure, Cambio allows users to proactively plan inspections, monitor hazards in real-time, and implement risk control measures according to a defensible and transparent decision-making process. For communities, Cambio can help identify the location and characteristics of geohazards, determine population and assets at risk, and establish transparent approaches to prioritize, plan and regulate land use and development.
BGC’s River Network Tools (RNT) is a powerful and versatile web-based application for analysing hydrotechnical geohazards associated with rivers and streams. Floods and channel-forming processes can pose risks to linear infrastructure such as pipelines, railways, and highways. Quantifying the potential risks to both existing and proposed infrastructure is essential, yet the expansive geographic regions traversed can result in a prohibitive amount of data requiring extensive man-hours to effectively gather and analyze. In response, BGC developed RNT as a set of modules that integrate publicly available hydrometric data with GIS-based analytical tools to help manage hazards and risks at watercourse crossings. The RNT has proven to be invaluable for a variety of applications, including geohazard and flood hazard management programs.