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Géotechnique Rankine-lecture papers

The Rankine Lecture is hosted in March each year by the British Geotechnical Association. It is widely viewed as the most prestigious of the invited lectures in geotechnics.

The lecture commemorates W.J.M. Rankine, Professor of Civil Engineering at Glasgow University, who was one of the first engineers in the UK to make a significant contribution to soil mechanics, and is best known for his theory for the earth pressure on retaining walls.

From 1961 to 1972 the lecture was held at the Institution of Civil Engineers, but since 1973 has taken place at Imperial College. In even-numbered years the lecturer is from the UK, and in odd-numbered years from overseas. Each lecture is published in Géotechnique, together with the text of the biographical introduction and the vote of thanks.

Details of past Rankine Lectures are:

1961Prof. A. CasagrandeControl of seepage through foundations and abutments of damsVol. 11No. 3pp 161-181
1962Dr L.F. CoolingField measurements in soil mechanicsVol. 12No. 2pp 77-103
1963A. MayerRecent work in rock mechanicsVol. 13No. 2pp 99-118
1964Prof. A.W. SkemptonLong-term stability of clay slopesVol. 14No. 2pp 77-101
1965Prof. N.M. NewmarkEffects of earthquakes on dams and embankmentsVol. 15No. 2pp 139-159
1966Prof. A.W. BishopThe strength of soils as engineering materialsVol. 16No. 2pp 91-128
1967Dr L. BjerrumEngineering geology of Norwegian normally-consolidated marine clays as related to settlements of buildingsVol. 17No. 2pp 83-117
1968R. GlossopThe rise of geotechnology and its influence on engineering practiceVol. 18No. 2pp 107-150
1969Prof. R.B. PeckAdvantages and limitations of the observational method in applied soil mechanicsVol. 19No. 2pp 171-187
1970Prof. K.H. RoscoeThe influence of strains in soil mechanicsVol. 20No. 2pp 129-170
1971Prof. J.C. JaegerFriction of rocks and stability of rock slopesVol. 21No. 2pp 97-134
1972Prof. P.W. RoweThe relevance of soil fabric to site investigation practiceVol. 22No. 2pp 195-300
1973Prof. T.W. LambePredictions in soil engineeringVol. 23No. 2pp 151-201
1974Prof. R.E. GibsonThe analytical method in soil mechanicsVol. 24No. 2pp 115-139
1975Prof. J. KeriselOld structures in relation to soil conditionsVol. 25No. 3pp 433-482
1976Dr A.C. MeighThe Triassic rocks, with particular reference to predicted and observed performance of some major foundationsVol. 26No. 3pp 393-451
1977V.F.B. de MelloReflections on design decisions of practical significance to embankment damsVol. 27No. 3pp 281-354
1978Dr W.H. WardGround supports for tunnels in weak rocksVol. 28No. 2pp 135-170
1979Prof. H. Bolton SeedConsiderations in the earthquake-resistant design of earth and rockfill damsVol. 29No. 3pp 215-262
1980Prof. A.N. SchofieldCambridge geotechnical centrifuge operationsVol. 30No. 3pp 227-267
1981Prof. N.R. MorgensternGeotechnical engineering and frontier resource developmentVol. 31No. 3pp 305-365
1982Dr D.J. HenkelGeology, geomorphology and geotechnicsVol. 32No. 3pp 175-194
1983E. HoekStrength of jointed rock massesVol. 33No. 3pp 187-222
1984Prof. C.P. WrothThe interpretation of in situ soil testsVol. 34No. 4pp 449-488
1985Prof. N. JanbuSoil models in offshore engineeringVol. 35No. 3pp 241-280
1986Dr A.D.M. PenmanOn the embankment damVol. 36No. 3pp 303-347
1987Prof. R.F. ScottFailureVol. 37No. 4pp 423-466
1988Prof. H.B. SutherlandUplift resistance in soilsVol. 38No. 4pp 493-515
1989Prof. H.G. PoulosPile behaviour - theory and applicationVol. 39No. 3pp 365-415
1990Prof. J.B. BurlandOn the compressibility and shear strength of natural claysVol. 40No. 3pp 329-378
1991Prof. J.K MitchellConduction phenomena: from theory to geotechnical practiceVol. 41No. 3pp 299-339
1992Dr B. SimpsonRetaining structures: displacement and designVol. 42No. 4pp 541-576
1993Prof. K. IshiharaLiquefaction and flow failure during earthquakesVol. 43No. 3pp 351-414
1994Prof. P.R. VaughanAssumption, prediction and reality in geotechnical engineeringVol. 44No. 4pp 573-608
1995Prof. R.E. GoodmanBlock theory and its applicationVol. 45No. 3pp 383-422
1996Prof. S.F. BrownSoil mechanics in pavement engineeringVol. 46No. 3pp 383-425
1997Prof. G.E. BlightInteractions between the atmosphere and the EarthVol. 47No. 4pp 715-766
1998Dr D.W. HightSoil characterisation: the importance of structure and anisotropyNot published
1999*Prof. S. LeroueilNatural slopes and cuts: movement and failure mechanismsVol. 51No. 3pp 197-243 (2001)
2000Prof. J.H AtkinsonNon-linear soil stiffness in routine designVol. 50No. 5pp 487-507
2001Prof. H. BrandlEnergy foundations and other thermo-active ground structuresVol. 56No. 2pp 81-122 (2006)
2002Prof. D.M. PottsNumerical analysis: a virtual dream or practical reality?Vol. 53No. 6pp 535-572 (2003)
2003Prof. M.F. RandolphScience and empiricism in pile foundation designVol. 53No. 10pp 847-874
2004Prof. N.N. AmbraseysEngineering, seismology and soil mechanicsNot published
2005Prof. R.K. RoweLong-term performance of contaminant barrier systemsVol. 55No. 9pp 631-678
2006Prof. R.J. MairTunnelling and geotechnics - new horizonsVol 58No 9pp 695-736
2007Prof. A. GensSoil-environment interactions in geotechnical engineeringVol 60, No 1, pp 3-74
2008Dr. J. A. CharlesThe engineering behaviour of fill materials: the use, misuse and disuse of case historiesVol. 58, No. 7, pp 541-570
2009Prof. T. O’Rourke
Geohazards & Large Geographically Distributed Systems
Vol. 60, No. 7, pp 505-543 






Prof. C. Clayton

Prof. S.W. Sloan

Prof. M. D. Bolton

Prof M. Jamiolkowski

Prof. Guy Houlsby

Dr Suzanne Lacasse
Stiffness at small strain - research and practice

Geotechnical Stability Analysis

Performance-based design in geotechnical engineering

Soil Mechanics and the observational method: Challenges at the Zelazny Most copper tailings disposal facility

Interactions in offshore foundation design

To be announced.
Vol. 61, No. 1, pp. 5-37

Vol 63, No. 7, pp. 531

Being written

Vol. 64, No. 8, pp. 590-619

Being written

* Prof. J.R. Booker, University of Sydney, Australia was invited to give the 1999 Rankine Lecture, but died in January 1998.

Rankine Lecture trivia:

  • 25 lecturers have been from the UK, 8 from the USA, 4 from Canada, 3 from Australia, 2 each from France, Norway and Spain, and 1 each from Austria, Brazil, Japan and South Africa.
  • The longest Rankine Lecture paper is 106 pages, by Prof. P.W. Rowe (1972), although much of that is figures and plates – Antonio Gens’ 2007 lecture comes in at 71 pages, but in the larger modern A4 Géotechnique format. Two Rankine Lecturers share the initials REG.
  • The youngest Rankine Lecturer is believed to be Brian Simpson, who was 44 when he delivered his lecture in 1992.
  • 6 Lecturers have been from Imperial College, 3 from BRS/BRE (including Penman who had retired), 3 each from Berkeley and Cambridge University, 2 each from University of Illinois, Mowlem/Soil Mechanics Ltd and Ove Arup. No other institution can boast multiple Rankine Lecturers.
  • Only one Rankine Lecture (Prof. R.E. Goodman, 1995) includes the words and music for a song.
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