The annual conference of the Engineering Group of the British Geological Society (EGGS) was held at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge, April 12-14. Its title indicated the goal: “keeping lessons alive”. During three days (including a short field trip), incidents and disasters were discussed, as well as some general considerations (e.g. the conduct of reconnaissance, the role of the assumptions on the hazards, the importance of the memory of the incidents).
An emblematic case for civil and geological engineering, the failure of the Malpasset French dam, was chosen as the theme for the inaugural keynote conference. Pierre Duffaut (mining engineer, retiree of the geological department of EDF) and Justin Larouzée (geological engineer and researcher at CRC) presented the “traps” which led, on December 2, 1959, to this catastrophe in which more than 400 people died. These traps, of different natures, are relate to geology, geotechnics but also to socio-organizational factors whose study has long been neglected. The originality of this conference was to combine Pierre Duffaut’s technical expertise in geology and rocks mechanics to Justin Larouzée’s one on human and organizational factors of accidents. Widely appreciated by the audience, this intervention distinguished itself by its interdisciplinary and intergenerational dynamics.
Picture : Phil Renforth, Pierre Duffaut, Justin Larouzée, David Giles.