Interesting Jobs

The plan is to add the following topics as separate pages to this website as time permits. Each is based on the working experience of Hodge, and although not always happy, may prove useful to young engineers.


An examination of the relationships between the solid, the liquid, and the vapour phases of under-saturated soils was the topic of my Master's thesis. Over the years since then I've made some progress on expressing, mathematically, what is called the "drying-wetting" cycle - that which ties negative (sub-atmospheric) pore water pressure to moisture content. Unsaturated soil get little attention in geotechnical practice because they are considered safer, however, they are all-important to the agricultural/horticultural industry.    January 31st 2016


This rather high dam was rebuilt by a regular dairy farmer and his son after they had accidentally washed away the very steep old stream channel. Hodge gave the team of two on-site direction while they rebuilt it themselves. Unfortunately, it failed again the following year, but the Fishery's officer was understanding and gave the team another chance. Since I've heard nothing during the past five freshets I'm hoping all is well, but will have another look soon.    April 27th 2015


Half-developed notions on a variety of topics such as:   Plate tectonic movements being associated with a single axes of rotation passing through the earth between Mollucas (CCW) and Antilles (CW), and the mid-Atlantic ridge being a coriolis affect;   Air-entrainment during rock-falls to explain run-out distance as well as conical mounds and wave forms in post-failure debris field;   Origin of talus from reflectioned (tensile) earthquake waves coming from other side of mountain;   Theory of numbers and the nothingness of zero;   Universal constants being simple fractions of prime numbers;   Quantum mechanics and visualizable torsional model of electron rings;   Physics' wave-particle duality "paradox" not being uncommon in geotechnical engineering, when one considers surface waves (Rayleigh & Love) passing through sand strata;  .  .  .


Two early projects where I wasn't too bright : First with a very long test-pit in Keuper Marl while in my apprenticeship with George Wimpey's Central Laboratory in London; then with the design of a stretch of the Mission dyking system during my early days with Golders in Vancouver.


This dam, like all the best of engineering works, was renamed after a public figure (Hugh Keenleyside) - once there was no fear of failure. The success belonged to Don Bazett. It was Hodge's introduction to the challenges of "underwater" earthfill construction. He conducted a full-scale field trial to investigate the best technique/way, if it was indeed possibility, to build the impervious core through water, so as to avoid the need to divert the Columbia River. The test showed how it could indeed be done successfully; the proceedure and results were recorded in a site report entitled Till Test #10.


The triangular downstream drainage system of the vast Syncrude tailings dam, still in use many years later, was designed by Hodge using earthfill materials availabe within the mine, and of such simple construction that it could be built without fuss by the regular mine crews.


This much beleaguered dam was the source of many hard lessons. It is used here as an occasion to explain: the mechanism of sinkhole development; the awful power of hydrodynamic forces and the various ways they worked to destroy several huge reinforced concrete structures; how drainage provision can go entirely wrong; how the flow pattern in deep wells is generally misunderstood: and, the futility of reliance on piezometric monitoring as a warning of approaching soil-structure failures.

Alberta Oil Sands

The recounting of a two-year saga where we responded to a sole-scource RFP from COSIA/CNRL to provide them with a solution to their chronic tailings storage problem, only to be told they couldn't entertain our novel ideas for want of money to pay for a limited field trial.


This cable-stay bridge, the longest of its type in the world at the time, was, as is the custom, renamed Alex Fraser Bridge once it was open for traffic. Hodge worked with the design team which included Buckland & Taylor, and provided: the dynamic soil-structure interaction analysis for earthquake induced load-deformations; the earthworks design for ship impact protection; and, a novel alternative to the 300 foot deep pile foundations.


For many years, in fact since the first time he witnessed their construction, Hodge has had serious concerns about their functionality, and how they might behave during liquefaction of the ground surrounding them - ¿would the voids within the rockfill core fill up with the heavy fluid resulting from the earthquake ? or ¿ would those void be already clogged since construction, what with so much water being jetted nearby ? Time to set his opinion in print.


Carried out, with minimal access and resources, a full-scale lateral pile loading test in normally consolidated montmorillonite at this remote harbour on the island of Haida Gwaii. At the same time, by installing slope indicator casings firmly inside the steel piles, determined the soil-stiffness values throughout the full depth of embedment.


Designed (with the help of Evert Hoek), and supervised the construction of an original tripartite solution to provide ship impact protection to this old and important bridge access to downtown Vancouver. The impact energy was distributed between three mechanism: physical distruction of ship; tensioning of heavy steel hold-down anchors into rock; and, bearing/frictional capacity of concrete/rock interface.


A reasoned criticism against the assumptions that soil specimens in the laboratory may be considered "elemental", or that soil in computer modeling may be considered a "continuum".


When the big Dutch and Belgian dredging outfits were asked to bid on redeploying the Molikpaq platform offshore Sakhalin Island they asked us (because of Phoenix™ and Hodge's experience with it in the Canadian offshore Arctic) to bid as sub-contractors to them. We offered an alternate bid, suggesting a better way of doing the job. They withdrew the original contract, changed the design to our suggestion, and went out for fresh subs. The job went, not to us, but the cheapest price. So there's a lesson worth learning.


An existing low earthfill had been built over normally consolidated clay. It retained a large lake with very serious downstream consequences. Hodge provided the design and detailed construction specifications for a substantial upgrade, without stream diversion. The crest level increase involved novelty, all of which was further complicated by the Chief of the Indian Band wanting her husband be given the quite demanding construction contract, despite his having no prior experience. Hodge was fired, without explanation, just before the construction contract was awarded.


The foundation design and construction monitoring of this relatively small, but high-visibility building was significant for several reasons worth putting on record: it rests on 47 metres of lightly/slightly over-consolidated fat clay without preloading; electronic piezometers were installed at 7m and 20m depths, and 8 years later are alive and well and being read; although settlements of up to 2 inches were cautioned, so far there is no evidence of any differential cracking of the slab or signs of distress in the stiff block wall structure.


A geotechnically based explanation can be offered to account for the intriguing relationship between documented cases of ball-lightening sightings in coincidence with, or some say, preceding earthquakes.