Volume 43, N. 3

Special Issue: 70 years of ABMS (Invited Editor: Waldemar Hachich), July-September, 2020

Risk management for geotechnical structures: consolidating theory into practice (Pacheco Silva Lecture)


Volume 43, N. 3, Special Issue: 70 years of ABMS (Invited Editor: Waldemar Hachich), July-September, 2020 | PDF (49 downloads)


This paper intends to consolidate the theory of risk management into practical applications in geotechnical engineering, presenting concepts, clarifying procedures and discussing openly its difficulties and trends. It brings the evolution of the risk concept and its application to engineering, worldwide and in Brazil, showing the trend of risk management as a decision-making tool in engineering with fair acceptance by the society. The probabilistic approach is discussed and compared to the deterministic one, focusing on the obtaining of reliability indexes and failure probabilities for engineering structures. For this, quantitative methods, such as event and fault tree analyses and probabilistic methods, are reviewed, discussing their applications and comparing their advantages and disadvantages. Risk metrics and the evaluation of its two components, failure probability and consequences due to failure, are presented, focusing on the need to quantify and monetise consequences, and, consequently, the engineering risks. From this derives the concept of overall cost, which is the structure cost or value added to its risk value, providing an efficient tool to compare engineering alternatives and solutions. Finally, the risk management scheme is discussed, focusing on the need to establish an intelligent risk management system, which incorporates an automatic and intelligent communication tool, to disseminate among professionals, company hierarchy and outside stakeholders, the structure risks, according to their levels in the Risk Diagram and guided by the company Risk Policy. This is illustrated by examples of applications in two geotechnical structures (a dam and an urban tunnel), showing its enormous potential as a decision-making tool in engineering, using risk-based or risk-informed approach. We are pleased to announce that the current issue of Soils and Rocks introduces a new paper format. This format was designed to offer a fresh look, to include a machine-readable Creative Commons licensing information, to adopt a more streamlined method of identification of authors and corresponding affiliations, among several other modifications. This change is accompanied by a new and modern website.

Keywords: Curves of risk acceptance and tolerance, Failure probability, Geotechnical structures, Impact and consequences, Probabilistic methods, Risk management,

Submitted on December 21, 2020.
Final Acceptance on August 03, 2020.
DOI: 10.28927/SR.433311