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AGS Annual Conference 2019 – an overview and speaker presentations

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This year’s AGS Annual Conference, previously known as Members’ Day returned to the National Motorcycle Museum, where AGS Members’ Day 2018 took place. As last year’s Members’ Day was so popular with attendees and sponsors, it was an easy decision to return to the same venue.

The day was a great success and well attended by nearly 200 delegates.

The presentations covered a range of geotechnical and geoenvironmental topics which were well received.

Prof. Iain Stewart of the University of Plymouth presented an interesting talk on how it can be difficult communicating geoscience to dissonant and wary publics, highlighting that when information is complex, people make decisions based on their values and beliefs and people most trust those whose values mirror their own.

Chris Swainston of Soils and Mike Plimmer of Geotechnical and Environmental Associates gave a Geoenvironmental Standards update including the Standards which are due to be published shortly. Chris and Mike also looked at uncertainty in sampling and how this can be only be reduced by doing more sampling and testing.

Patrick Cox of AECOM provided an insight into the Value of Ground Engineering explaining that value is not necessarily the lowest cost or the quickest solution. Patrick’s talk also covered ‘The Five Capitals Model’ which takes sustainability into consideration. More information on this model can be viewed here.

Following Guy Lane’s talk on AGS data at Members’ Day 2018, Roger Chandler of Keynetix and Steve Walthall, AGS Honorary Member, provided their view on ‘Who owns data’ explaining there are still ongoing discussions about whether the producer or client own the data and suggesting that a way forward could be that AGS Data is made available to all under open license.

Phil Crowcroft of ERM presented examples of Emerging Contaminants including Lead, Asbestos, Mercury, Phthalates, PFAS and Microplastics and the concerns surrounding these. During his presentation, Phil explained that not all ‘emerging contaminants’ were new substances but included sontaminants which we now have a better understanding of their effect on the environment or human health. Phil explained that it’s the properties which substances exhibit which are of concern and it often takes 20 years or more to see the negative effects that a substance has.

The final talk of the day was provided by James Macfarlane of Hydrock on Practical Asbestos Ground Investigations, who highlighted the industry have produced a number of guidance documents focusing on asbestos in soils and covered potential issues with asbestos on site investigations. This led to a discussion regarding the relevance and pragmatism of current guidance with relation to standard ground investigations. It is hoped that AGS will produce guidance to address this.

All the AGS Working Group Leaders delivered updates on what they have been working on over the past year.

Jonathan Gammon was made an Honorary Member of the AGS during the AGM and Neil Parry presented individuals with awards for their hard work and contribution to the AGS after being nominated by the Working Group Leaders.

Special thanks to this year’s speakers; Prof. Iain Stewart (University of Plymouth), Chris Swainston (Soils), Mike Plimmer (Geotechnical and Environmental Associates), Patrick Cox (AECOM), Roger Chandler (Keynetix), Steve Walthall, Phil Crowcroft (ERM) and James Macfarlane (Hydrock).
Special thanks also to this year’s sponsors and exhibitors.

Presentations from AGS Annual Conference can be viewed below:
1. Business Practice Working Group Report – Julian Lovell
2. Between a Rock and Hard Place: Communicating Geoscience to Dissonant and Wary Publics
3. Contaminated Land Working Group Report – Vivian Dent
4. Reducing Uncertainty – The Quest for Representative Samples – Chris Swainston and Mike Plimmer
5. Geotechnical Working Group Report – Stephen West
6. Delivering Geotechnical Value in a Multi-Disciplinary Environment – Patrick Cox
7. Data Format Working Group Report – Jackie Bland
8. Who Owns Data? – Roger Chandler and Steve Walthall
9. Laboratories Working Group Report – Dimitris Xirouchakis
10. Emerging Challenges with New and Old Contaminants – Phil Crowcroft
11. Loss Prevention Working Group Report – Hugh Mallett
12. Safety Working Group Report – Adam Latimer
13. Practical Asbestos Ground Investigations – James Macfarlane