The Vienna Terzaghi Lecture 2022 has been awarded to Professor Lyesse Laloui of EPFL. Since 1997, the combined lecture and award have been given biennially to internationally renowned geotechnical engineers by the Association of Austrian Drilling, Well Construction and Foundation Engineering Companies (VÖBU), the Austrian Association of Engineers and Architects (ÖIAV), the Austrian National Committee (ASMGE) of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) and the Institute of Geotechnics, Foundation Engineering, Soil and Rock Mechanics at the University of Vienna.
The conference is named in honor of Karl von Terzaghi, who is considered the founding father of soil mechanics, a field of engineering exploring the mechanics of soils, and its application in geotechnical engineering. His radical work on the properties of soils led him to develop unifying concepts on earth pressure and slope stability.
This year’s winner, EPFL’s Lyesse Laloui, is Chair Professor of Soil Mechanics and the European Vice President-elect of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE).
Throughout his distinguished career, Professor Laloui has looked to apply and build upon the fundamentals that Karl Terzaghi developed. Terzaghi observed that, “Rainfall-induced pore pressure hike is not the cause of landslides, but a contributing factor. There were many higher hikes in the geological past! The cause is long-term gradual, cumulative chemical weathering which weakens inter-granular bonds which leads to decrease of cohesion”.
These pioneering ideas became the foundational theory behind Laloui’s latest research project BIOGEOS, an ERC-funded exploration of the interaction between water and soils which, rather than decreasing the cohesion as described by Terzaghi, strengthens the cohesion through natural bio-cementation. Professor Laloui’s research is undertaking a multiphysical analysis of bio-cementation processes in nature and their practical engineering applications. He will present the outcomes to date in his lecture titled “Tailor-made soil properties by bio-geochemical means” at the Austrian Geotechnical Conference in January 2022.