Rebuilding Around the World: Henry Haselton’s Ongoing Volunteer Work

Principal Geotechnical Engineer Henry Haselton is providing pro bono engineering services to help rebuild and protect schools, villages, and farms affected by natural disasters in Nepal and Tanzania.

Henry has been working with All Hands Volunteers to rebuild schools that were destroyed after the massive earthquake in Nepal in April 2015. Most recently, he helped with site development and foundation recommendations for the East Point Academy in Melamchi, which is about 25 miles north of Katmandu. The Nepalese government prepared standard school designs, and they need engineering help to make the structures work at particular locations. He also designed an earthquake-resistant retaining wall to support the school in its new location. Henry is now embarking on work for another school project higher up in the Himalayas.

photo courtesy of All Hands Volunteers

Earlier this year, Henry provided geotechnical consultation for a sugar cane producer who is affiliated with a non-governmental organization south of Moshi, Tanzania to help alleviate flooding of villages and farms in the area. The engineering work was led by master’s students from Tu Delft in the Netherlands. Henry’s work focused on extending levees and installing weirs to mitigate flooding, and included recommendations on geotechnical field and laboratory testing, slope stability analyses, and general geotechnical recommendations for the levees.

Matching the Quality of the Words with the Quality of the Science

Everyone at Aspect writes something. Whether it’s a short memo to a property owner, a long report to a regulator, an email to a potential client, or a web story talking about writing. We generate a lot of words, and very few of them come easy. Yet, writing is crucial—for many reasons, but primarily because the quality of our words should match the quality of the science.

In a recent technical exchange, a panel of senior staffers shared their best practices for how we convey the conclusions and recommendations we form as a result of our scientific collaboration through our writing.

Our staff can be out in the field collecting and reviewing data, devising creative ways to approach and solve problems, and doing overall stellar work. But if we can’t clearly articulate what we did and why we did it, then all of our work can be lost in translation. Taking ideas, solidifying them into a sort of outline, and then turning to blank page to try and translate all of that into words in a clear, concise fashion can be an extremely daunting task.

Indeed, each panelist admitted that writing is hard work, especially when we hold ourselves to a high standard for delivering quality results. They shared how they approach a writing assignment and tackle challenges that come up along the way. The discussion sprung from four key questions:

  • How do you start a new writing assignment?
  • What do you look for in writing from your project team?
  • What is the best advice about writing that you’ve received?
  • What is your greatest personal writing challenge?

Over the course of our talk, we learned everyone has a different way of combating the fear and angst generated from a blank page. Some meticulously outline and then fill in section by section. Some dump any and all information that may be relevant and then carve out the document from the raw material. Some schedule themselves a block of time to write and stick to it. Some avoid it until the deadline looms near. Some know the conclusion and write their way back from it, some figure out the ending as they go along. We did find some common ground among us—we all feel a little lost at the very start of a project, and we all look to existing reports to guide the way.

We left with the knowledge that though there’s not a perfect tool or exact method for filling the page, knowing what your writing process is – i.e., what works for YOU—is the most important part of writing successfully. Developing a writing style and rhythm is an ever-evolving process. 


Too Much Flare, Not Enough Gas

Aspect’s Peter Bannister, along with King County’s Dan Swope, will co-present at the 2016 Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Northwest Regional Symposium in Vancouver, BC on Friday April 8th.

As landfills age and landfill gas generation inevitably declines, landfill operators face the problem of using legacy collection and control systems that weren’t designed to harvest dwindling amounts of landfill gas. Simply continuing operation of these oversized systems is often not practical or financially prudent.

Peter and Dan will present the Enumclaw Landfill case-study and focus on how landfill gas forensics has proven to be an innovative solution to coaxing better performance out of existing landfill gas collection and control systems, and designing downscaled systems, at closed landfills in King County, Washington State.

Peter and Dan will present Friday morning at 10:30AM in technical session 6B – Advances in Landfill Gas Management.  Learn more about the conference HERE and view the agenda HERE.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Evaluating Ground Movement from Outer Space: Annaliese Eipert Discusses InSAR satellite technology at AEG meeting

Many of the questions Aspect’s infrastructure staff have on a project revolve around soil movement. We may need to know how much a building’s foundation has settled, or if a steep slope is starting to fail, or the furthest extent of a sinkhole. A new technology— interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR)—is helping us gather better information to answer those questions. Project Geologist Annaliese Eipert will share Aspect’s local experience with InSAR at the monthly Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists (AEG) meeting in Seattle on Thursday, March 17.

InSAR measures the changes in ground surface elevation by recording the distance between the ground and a satellite over time, and it does so with accuracy down to the millimeter. It can pierce through rainclouds and cover of night to document conditions without interruption. Unlike Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which covers conditions for a fixed point, InSAR can collect data on the movement of large parcels of land. It also acts as a time machine of sorts, with the ability to study data gathered in years past. InSAR’s functionality gives us more detailed data to find problematic changes in ground surface and formulate appropriate recommendations and solutions.

InSAR image showing accumulated ground motion in the greater Tacoma area. Image courtesy of TRE-Altamira.

Annaliese’s presentation will focus on how we used InSAR data to help determine the cause of an approximately five-mile-long swath of widespread apparent uplift on the order of one inch in the Federal Way area that was observed between 2007 and 2009. She will also explore the potential causes of observed subsidence along Puget Lowland river valleys and of ground surface deformation in general, as well as the applications and limitations of using InSAR analysis for geologic and geotechnical engineering investigations in comparison to high-resolution GPS and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology.

Annaliese will be co-presenting with Giacomo Falorni from TRE-Altamira, a globally recognized firm with comprehensive expertise in applying InSAR data to large infrastructure projects. Giacomo will provide an introduction to the technology itself and discuss how it has been used on infrastructure and environmental projects around the world. 

Aspect’s Owen Reese and Tom Atkins presenting at NEBC’s Stormwater Conference on March 9th

On March 9th in Tacoma, the Northwest Environmental Business Council (NEBC) will host the 9th annual Managing Stormwater Conference in Washington. This focused one-day conference is Washington's leading stormwater event, convening regulated companies, governments, solution providers, and regulators to share solutions to the challenges of stormwater management. The conference’s educational sessions will cover both basics and advanced topics in the areas of industrial stormwater management, construction stormwater management, municipal stormwater management, and cross-cutting issues. Aspect is proud to be a premier sponsor of the conference. Aspect’s stormwater engineers Tom Atkins and Owen Reese will also be contributing to two of the educational sessions. 

Tom will present a case study in the Industrial Treatment Project Showcase Session; his presentation will highlight deployment of a customized treatment system that successfully met tight time constraints, overcame challenging site conditions, and achieved NPDES permit requirements.

Owen will moderate the cross-cutting issues session on the “Impact of Third-Party Lawsuits”. This session will discuss Clean Water Act lawsuits by outside parties as a de facto enforcement tool for stormwater permit compliance, walk through the process of a typical citizen suit,  and share what can be learned from the outcome of these cases. 

Learn more about the conference HERE.

Icicle Creek Watershed Project Launches SEPA Scoping

Over the last three years, the 212-square-mile Icicle Creek watershed in Chelan County has been the focus of significant evaluation to address chronic water supply issues.

Recently, the Icicle Creek Work Group (IWG)--composed of a diverse set of local, state and federal agencies, tribes, irrigation and agricultural interests and environmental organizations--reached a key project milestone with the launching of State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) scoping for a diverse range of projects to help fish, farms, and flows. The purpose of SEPA is twofold: it encourages public involvement in selecting project alternatives and it ensures environmental values are considered by state and local agencies before committing to action.

The proposed projects run the gamut from retrofitting existing reservoirs in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness to benefit instream flow to designing new infrastructure at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery to improve fish populations. In addition, proposed conservation efforts—to improve irrigation and domestic use efficiencies--look to promote both instream and out of stream benefits.

The timeline for the SEPA process will run over the next 90 days, followed by the kick-off of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluation, which will take place over the next two years.

Learn more about the proposed projects here.

Inspiring Young Minds with the Power of the Elwha River Restoration

Watching nature reclaim its natural habitat is awe inspiring. The Elwha River restoration—kicked off by the largest dam removal project in the world—is literally recreating the landscape along its path through the wild Olympic Peninsula. Through video, narrative, and photos, this recent Seattle Times story describes the status of the project in compelling detail.

Aspect is excited to see this worthy story get the attention it deserves, particularly because we know first-hand the power of the Elwha to inspire young minds. Aspect has been a long-time sponsor of NatureBridge, a nonprofit that gives students an up-close and personal introduction to environmental education. NatureBridge has been using the Elwha River restoration project as an outdoor lab to inspire and educate the next generation of environmental stewards.  When your classroom is a roaring river and your desk is a log along a newly formed streambed, the possibilities for learning seem endless.

Environmental Data Management Done Right: EQuIS in Action

Aspect’s Data + Mapping team uses time-saving tools to streamline our data analysis and processing to inform conclusions, design, and reporting—at the center of which is the environmental data management system EQuIS. Having long been leaders in the field of environmental chemistry data management, we have recently migrated from home-built, custom database systems to this industry standard. Our expertise with this powerful software has been bolstered by Senior Staff Data Scientist Lea Beard, who joined Aspect last summer. She is an EQuIS expert who turns her deep analytical chemistry and data management skills into efficiencies and insights for Aspects project teams and clients.

Why we use EQuIS:

  • It is reliable and stable, ensuring the integrity of our clients’ valuable data.
  • It helps us to process, review, manage, and analyze data as rapidly as our projects move.
  • It enables us easily tailor reporting outputs to the nuanced needs of a project.
  • It ensures adherence to standards and helps us to maintain consistency across projects.
  • It safeguards our data’s compliance with environmental regulatory standards.

Created by EarthSoft, EQuIS is optimized to handle a broad-range of environmental data—particularly environmental chemistry data. EQuIS gives us the “brain” to formulate answers to the questions its users may ask, such as:

  • How many fish passed through this culvert last year?
  • To what extent have the concentrations of chlorinated solvents in groundwater responded to the remediation system operation?
  • Was the Reporting Detection Limit for Lead low enough to meet the Quality Assurance Project Plan?
  •  What were water level elevations in this monitoring well network from 2010 to 2015?

Having this framework already in place saves us and our clients time and money that would otherwise be spent building or customizing software to meet ever-changing needs. EQuIS also contains built-in solutions for common problems encountered in environmental reporting. It’s been put to the test by a wide cross-section of users—consultants, public agencies, corporations, laboratories—who have contributed their feedback and worked out bugs as they go. With a diverse group of users informing how it works for them, EQuIS is able to keep up with the state of environmental reporting.

Case Study in How EQuIS Simplifies Our Data Collection

Our staff heads out to a project site, tablet loaded with Fulcrum in hand, and begins to collect data. When the day is done, they send samples to the lab for analysis. Taking the field observations and measurements from Fulcrum and the analytical results from the lab, Lea feeds these two data sets alongside one another into EQuIS. With these normally separate datasets stored together in one spot, EQuIS makes it easy to access and search. Automated alerts and reporting based on preset parameters (perhaps a particular contaminant level has been detected or exceeded) means that project teams can make timely decisions about their next round of data collection or further investigation/inquiry. Reversing the direction of the data, Lea can then feed those results back into Fulcrum, sending it out to the team in the field, ensuring they have the most up-to-date information at the site. In the past this information exchange would have taken a week, but with EQuIS and Fulcrum, it takes mere hours.

EQuIS weaves together the data streams and creates meaningful output.

A Helping Hand Sets Clients on the Right Data Management Path

While EQuIS has the power and flexibility to make managing data easy, it can be a bit daunting to learn and implement. Lea helps guide clients through the set-up process – deciding on reference values, figuring out which lab electronic data deliverable formats to use, building reporting standards – forming the framework of their ongoing data management needs. From there, Aspect can help clients create software customizations to make summing groups of analytes (such as polychlorinated biphenyls) straightforward and reproducible, and offer assistance on making data easy to export into Ecology’s Environmental Information Management (EIM) database. Our in-house experience with EQuIS allows us to help clients tell their project’s story clearly.

Having someone like Lea at the helm of a program like EQuIS allows us to efficiently collect, manage, and report on data, ensuring that the rest of our team can focus on what they’re best at: science and strategic advice for our clients.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery: An Innovative Approach to Water Storage

After years of work, Aspect recently finished a pilot test that will help the City of White Salmon (City) implement one of only a handful of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) systems in the state. ASR—essentially taking advantage of natural geology, man-made wells, and climate patterns to create an underground reservoir—is an attractive water supply concept. It’s relatively low-cost (compared to building an above ground reservoir), has a small environmental footprint, and in arid climates reduces losses from evaporation. However, permitting of an ASR system involves overcoming technical operational hurdles that hinge on two key questions:

  1. How much water are you getting back? (recoverability)
  2. Will injection or withdrawal affect water quality? (Washington State Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) antidegradation policy)

During Aspect’s monthly technical exchange series, Aspect’s Tim Flynn, Joe Morrice, and Jared Bean gave a presentation and explained Aspect’s experience with ASR in the state and what it means for future water supply.

Creating an Underground Reservoir

Essentially, this concept uses nature’s pre-built reservoirs (aquifers) to create an underground reservoir or tank to store water when it’s plentiful and withdraw it when it’s scarce. In water resources terminology, ASR typically uses seasonally available surface water to help recharge—or move water from the surface into the ground—an aquifer. It does this by capturing excess water during the winter and spring months, when surface water flows are generally high and water system demands low, and injecting that water via a well (or engineered infiltration basin) into the underground aquifer. During the dry summer season, water is withdrawn for use when surface water flows are low and water system demand is at its peak. 

Figure 1. ASR System Cycle

The basic components of an ASR system include:

  • The right kind of Aquifer. Bedrock or unconsolidated aquifers may both be suitable for ASR, but ideally the target aquifer would be bounded by geologic faults or other barriers that limit the flow and loss of stored water in storage before it is recovered from the aquifer.
  • Source water of suitable quality. This is typically surface water from rivers or streams, but with the appropriate water quality treatment and permitting process can include stormwater runoff, remediated groundwater, reclaimed water, and industrial process water. These sources should be chemically compatible with ambient groundwater and do not contain constituents that would violate the State groundwater quality standards, including the antidegradation standard, or can be treated to meet these standards.
  • A way to put water in and to take it out. This means infrastructure for ASR source water diversion, treatment (as needed), conveyance, and injection to the subsurface through one or more wells, with subsequent pumping to recover stored water.

ASR in Washington State

Although ASR has been in practice for many years in other parts of the nation, it’s a fairly new concept to northwestern states that have typically relied on mountain snowpack as a form of water storage to provide supply during summer months. Because of Washington’s recent drought and the scarcity of water in many surface water basins, especially during summer low flows, ASR’s popularity is growing. In Washington state, there are approximately 9 projects in development. The existing policy framework for ASR in Washington state came about in the early 2000s with two developments:

  1. In 2000, the state’s expansion of the definition of “reservoir” to include “…underground geologic formation(s)… as part of an (ASR) project” (RCW 90.03.370); and
  2. In 2003, Ecology’s adoption of the ASR rule (WAC 173-157) which established standards for ASR projects, including standards related to water rights, water quality, water treatment, and geotechnical impacts.   

Aspect is currently working on three ASR projects in Washington, Arizona, and California. Our ASR projects locations in the PNW currently span western, central, and southern Washington and include both basalt (bedrock) and unconsolidated, glacial outwash host-aquifers.  

Figure 2. Groundwater Recharge Projects in Washington State
(ASR = Aquifer Storage and Recovery; SAR = Shallow Aquifer Recharge)

City of White Salmon ASR

The City has historically relied on surface water from Buck Creek for the City’s water supply.  In 2002, the City switched to groundwater wells as their primary supply but with decreasing well yields and limited water rights along with the WA Department of Health issuing a moratorium on new connections the City is seeking new alternatives to boost their water supply. One of these alternatives is to explore the possibility of ASR.  Aspect has helped the City pursue this option by coordinating with Ecology throughout the process. After receiving an Ecology grant, and approval of the feasibility study, an AKART analysis was completed which secured Ecology approval for pilot testing.

The most recent pilot test involved the injection of 32 acre-feet of water over the span of 53 days (135 gallons per minute, or about 200,000 gallons per day).  With the current well and conveyance configuration the City can expect to inject, store and recover about 100 acre-feet per year, which provides approximately 25% of peak (summer) demand.  These numbers are with current operational constraints of a gravity fed non-continuous injection.  If the City upgrades to pressurized injection (continuous) then they can expect more than 300 acre-feet per year, or about 74 percent of peak summer demands.

Figure 3. Conceptual Hydrogeologic Model of White Salmon Project Area
Source: Aspect Consulting

One major concern is to make sure the quality of the water isn’t degraded while in ‘storage’.  The pilot test showed the formation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) from treating the injected water with chlorine prior to injection.  Ecology’s antidegradation policy says injected water cannot impact native groundwater or source water quality. Groundwater quality monitoring throughout the pilot test showed that DBPs did form in the injection water, but quickly dissipated in the aquifer.

The other hurdle is the recoverable quantity of water or the amount of water recouped from what was originally injected, i.e., “recoverability”. Ecology requires that the same water that is stored be recovered, and any stored water that migrates past the capture zone of the recovery well is no longer available for use.  Aspect has estimated, based on water quality monitoring and aquifer hydraulic response to injection and recovery, that the White Salmon ASR system has 85% recoverability of injected water.

Aspect is engaged in ongoing discussions and interactions with Ecology’s water quality and water rights permitting programs regarding these issues and how to efficiently complete the required permitting while protecting groundwater quality and water rights, including instream flows for the City of White Salmon and other ASR projects.

The interpretation and understanding of water quality and water right permitting requirements for ASR projects is evolving as project proponents advance their plans through Ecology. Aspect will continue to work with clients across the state to use ASR as a viable option in providing water where and when it’s needed most. 

Meet Adam Griffin

Aspect is excited to welcome Adam Griffin to our Environmental team. He recently joined us as a Senior Remediation Engineer working from our Bainbridge Island office. Adam has 10 years of remediation experience across the country and internationally, supporting projects in Europe and South America. His experience is focused on the design and implementation of in-situ remediation approaches at commercial, industrial, and mining sites. Adam received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in environmental engineering from the University of Tennessee and has worked in the Northwest for five years.

As part of his introduction to Aspect, Adam hosted a technical exchange for the staff. The presentation highlighted his broad experience with in-situ remediation technologies, or the cleanup of contaminated media in place as opposed to pumping or removal for aboveground treatment. Every site’s conditions are different, and therefore developing a sound Conceptual Site Model (CSM) allows the “tuning” of in-situ remediation technologies for successful implementation. Adam shared examples of unique site conditions, such as soil geochemistry, high-flux aquifers, and stratigraphic constraints, and then explored how to tailor an approach and design to allow successful implementation of the selected technologies. He walked us through five case studies spotlighting some of these methods that have led to successful site remediation.

When he’s not contemplating aquifer conditions or remediation geochemistry, Adam enjoys camping and kayaking around Western Washington, accompanied by his wife and their two dogs.

The New Sound Transit U-Link Rail Extension: Understanding Seattle’s Geology

The U-Link light rail extension will open on March 19th—a full six months ahead of schedule and $100 million under budget. This new car-free transportation option for the Seattle area creates a previously unheard of eight-minute UW-to-downtown ride and an under an hour trip from Husky Stadium to Sea-Tac.

This transit game-changer was made possible by routing the light rail through two parallel three-mile-long, large-diameter, soft-ground rail tunnels. The tunnels extend from downtown Seattle, beneath Capitol Hill with a deep station in the Broadway area, then cross beneath the Montlake Cut and run to another underground station near Husky Stadium on the University of Washington Campus.

In an article on, Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray said: "This project has gone fantastic for us. This is one of those projects where we had time and budget built in for a lot of risks that were out there before we started construction and things went smoothly and we didn't have to dip into that time or money to deal with any of the risks. Things went as well as they possibly could have." 

With an underground project of this size and scope, understanding subsurface conditions early and clearly conveying risk was key to project success. With that in mind, Aspect was hired to lead the geologic analysis and hydrogeology disciples, and provide planning and field support for the exploration program.  Our knowledge of regional geology and expected variability in soil properties allowed us to implement a risk-based approach in collecting additional subsurface information. Results of this approach were used to target explorations to areas where additional subsurface information would significantly reduce design and construction costs and contractor contingencies.

Aspect’s approach resulted in significant cost and schedule savings compared to previous exploration approaches that relied on more numerous and costly uniformly spaced explorations.

It is projected that this $1.9 billion project will add 71,000 riders to the light rail system by 2030.


See Aspect at the Yakima Ag Expo January 7th and 8th

Come visit us at our booth at the Yakima Ag Expo on January 7th and 8th at the Yakima Valley Sundome. Members of our water resources team will be providing one-on-one water rights evaluations for conference attendees. We’ll be there to answer your questions about current water right trends in Washington state, and handing out some free goodies as well.

Banking Water for Future Use

The future water availability in many areas of Washington State is uncertain. To address these uncertainties, Aspect is working with Spokane, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties to develop a regional water bank which will allow for redistribution of water rights between buyers and sellers in the Little Spokane watershed.

Aspect’s Carl Einberger co-authored an article in the American Water Resources Association Newsletter detailing this essential project.


A Look Inside Vapor Intrusion

When volatile chemicals have the potential to migrate from contaminated groundwater or soil into an overlying building—i.e., vapor intrusion (VI)—a whole new layer of complexity is added to environmental remediation projects. In Washington State over the last several years, vapor intrusion has been under increasing regulatory scrutiny. An understanding of vapor intrusion typically revolves around a few core questions:

  • How to accurately evaluate it?
  • How to keep abreast of what’s required, given that the regulatory guidance is constantly evolving?
  • How to protect human health during and after site cleanup?

During Aspect’s monthly technical exchange series, Eric Marhofer, Dave Heffner, Carla Brock, Eric Geissinger, and Kirsi Longley of our environmental team gave a roundtable presentation of their collective experience at assessing vapor intrusion at well over 100 sites.

Read More

GIS Day Roundup

Aspect commemorated GIS Day, a part of Geography Awareness Week, with a spirited celebration featuring maps, trivia, and cake. 

The festivities kicked off with a presentation by Senior Data Scientist Parker Wittman, highlighting some of the GIS team’s work over the last year. They have developed innovations using Fulcrum in concert with Google Earth, EQuIS, and other software to make field testing, sampling, and reporting much more efficient. Citing specific work Aspect has done for the Port of Seattle at SeaTac Airport, Parker demonstrated how the systems we’ve created are helping the Port assess the potential impacts proposed construction/redevelopment would have on the existing stormwater infrastructure and keep the existing mass of ever-updating data organized and easily accessible. Our team is strategically employing automated tools where it can save projects time and money.

Later in the day, we cut the cake as the GIS team set out to stump the rest of us with several rounds of GIS / geography-related trivia questions. 

Of course, a GIS Day celebration would not be complete without an informative map. The GIS team polled staffers on all the places they’ve lived throughout their lives. Using the analytical software Tableau, they created this lovely lattice crisscrossing the world. 

Tim Flynn to Talk Water Right Strategies for Irrigators at the 2015 WSWRA Spokane Conference

Over December 2-4, the Washington State Water Resource Association’s (WSWRA) annual conference in Spokane will bring together experts and public policy leaders to discuss important 2016 water issues, including climate change, drought response, and many other relevant irrigation topics. Aspect’s president and principal hydrogeologist Tim Flynn will present on day one of the conference in the Irrigation District Workshop. His presentation on “Recent Case Studies of Effective Water Right Strategies to Support District Operations” will examine irrigation district’s potential risks and opportunities and highlight case studies of the White Salmon and Methow Valley Irrigation Districts. Learn more about the conference HERE.

Stabilizing a One-of-a-Kind Slope

Since 2007, Aspect has provided landfill engineering support to the City of Port Angeles on their closed landfill located on a steep bluff high above the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In addition to our ongoing work (annual groundwater and leachate monitoring programs, gas flare operation and maintenance, and greenhouse gas emission evaluations) we’ve been working to quickly stabilize the steep slopes that wall off the refuse from the marine environment.

A Tall Order

We were recently asked to complete the final design of a 110-foot-high reinforced slope buttress – the tallest such slope in Washington. The earthwork contractor had already begun work, standby fees were accruing, and the construction weather window was narrowing. Thus, time was of the essence to finish the design ahead of the winter wet weather season to protect the surrounding environment from further slope instability. Although a design of this magnitude would normally take six to eight weeks, our geotechnical engineers worked hard to crank out the design in less than half that time.

Creating a Strong and Flexible Slope

The slope will consist of 84 layers of compacted soil sandwiched between thin layers of geosynthetic reinforcement, creating a composite mechanically reinforced soil mass with both good compressive and tensile strength. The geosynthetic reinforcement not only economically increases the strength of the soil but also creates a flexible reinforced slope system that accommodates the expected settlement of the slope buttress. The mechanically reinforced slope must also act as a low-permeability cover for the landfill. Built into the wall is a leachate drainage and collection system that is isolated from surrounding stormwater sources. Collection of leachate (the liquid that drains or “leaches” from a landfill) is a key component of good landfill design. The newly constructed wall will be vegetated with grasses and small shrubs and will keep waste buried for many decades out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 

New Geologic Map Unveils Port Ludlow's Underground

Aspect Staff Geologist Jesse Favia is a co-author of the recently published geologic map of the Port Ludlow area in Kitsap and Jefferson Counties. The map—officially the Geologic Map of the Port Ludlow and southern half of the Hansville 7.5-minute quadrangles, Kitsap and Jefferson Counties, Washington, Map Series 2015-02 by M. Polenz, J. G. Favia, I. J. Hubert, G. L. Paulin, and R. Cakir— was a joint effort between the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the United States Geological Survey. Much like a dictionary is an official reference point for language, geologic maps are the official references in the field of geology, and it is thought an honor to have a hand in creating one.

Jesse worked on the map through an internship with Michael Polenz at DNR. They started in July of 2014, when Jesse, Michael, and Ian Hubert set out to map the quadrangle, which covers Port Ludlow and about 50 square miles around it that includes parts of Kitsap and Jefferson County. The group spent the summer exploring the land—sometimes in a truck on rural roads, sometimes on foot through the forest, sometimes by boat floating by bluffs on the coastline. They looked for cut banks and slopes, any place where soils were exposed and allow them a peek below the ground surface. Some days were slow; some days they’d stumble upon a huge exposure where the layers of soil deposits were clearly visible and they could easily take samples to date and analyze.

When fall arrived, Jesse spent from November 2014 to May 2015 in Olympia conducting the “mini science experiment” that would ultimately make the map. They ran lab tests on the approximately 200 soil samples they collected, worked with DNR’s editing section to display the deposits, and wrote the corresponding report.

The result of their efforts created an updated geologic map that will be used by everyone from government agencies to local engineering firms to inform them about what’s underground around Port Ludlow. 

Click image below for full resolution.