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“It takes at least 500 years to form one inch of topsoil.”

Kathryn Dompierre, R&D Engineer, Seequent – GEOSLOPE office  

Today, we’re celebrating soil – and all the cool things about it – for World Soil Day.

Soil isn’t something you probably think about often, but it’s an essential resource for agricultural production, living space for organisms, and ecosystem balance.  Plus, we use soil for so many different human applications, including foundations for roadways and buildings, barriers for reactive waste, and to build dams, levees, and other water control structures.

To learn more about this vital part of the natural environment – who better to ask than our resident geotechnical experts at the Seequent – GEOSLOPE office (who joined the Seequent team two months ago)?

Here are a few more of their favourite facts about soil:

“Soil naturally removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through physical, chemical, and biological processes. It can also be used to artificially capture and sequester industrially produced carbon dioxide.”

– Marc Lebeau, R&D Engineer

“Volcanic soils are very fertile.”

– Bing Huang, R&D Engineer & Bonsai tree enthusiast

“Digging a soil pit can teach you so many things about the area you live in, such as the presence of glaciers, lakes, and freshwater intrusions. And, if you dig deep enough, maybe even the presence of dinosaurs or ancient cultures! There is so much you can learn from the soil.”

– Keely Kulpa, R&D Scientist

“To understand soil, you have to understand both water and soil, as the properties of soil can change significantly depending on its water content.”

– Ashraf Zekri, R&D Engineer


Saving the Soil

The team shared the many ways to prevent soil erosion (this year’s World Soil Day theme), which includes using techniques like grading and shaping slopes, planting vegetation, erosion control blankets, and having suitable drainage.

To learn more about our soil experts, read on.

Keely Kulpa, Research & Development Scientist

My undergraduate degree was actually a major in Soil Science, with soil physics and soil chemistry being my favourite subjects! My M.Sc. in Civil Engineering research focused on hydrogeology in Northern Ireland drumlin cuttings along highways and railways, with a focus on 2-D versus 3-D hydrogeological numerical analyses.

I am part of the engineering group at GEOSLOPE, and I am involved in researching and testing new GeoStudio product features and add-ins with the others in the engineering group, as well as in the development group. I am also involved in researching case studies, creating new examples and tutorial videos, and responding to user questions via the support system.

Bing Huang, Research & Development Engineer

My undergraduate degree was in structural engineering at the South China University of Science and Technology. I completed a M.Sc. at the University of Saskatchewan and a Ph.D. at Queen’s University in geotechnical engineering, with a focus on reliability-based design and numerical modelling of MSE structures.

My primary role at GEOSLOPE is adding new features and functionalities to the GeoStudio software… and developing new products! I also provide user support.

Ashraf Zekri, Research & Development Engineer 

I completed my degrees, a B.Sc. in civil engineering and both a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in geotechnical engineering, at the University of Tabriz in Iran. My graduate research focused on clay soil and liquefaction in loose sand. I am still very interested in the response of soils and structures to dynamic loading (earthquakes). 

I work with the GEOSLOPE team to offer solutions for geotechnical problems and provide support to GeoStudio users. My research focus is numerical methods in earthquake geotechnical engineering. I study constitutive models for soil so we can implement them in the GeoStudio products. 

Marc Lebeau, Research & Development Engineer

My area of research combines physical chemistry, hydrogeology, and geotechnical engineering to study coupled transport phenomenon and mechanical response of engineered structures in cold and temperate climates. My current research interests include the effect of thin liquid films on unsaturated and frozen soil properties, non-Darcy and buoyancy-driven flows in soils, and inverse modeling.

My primary responsibilities are to provide support for the integrated GeoStudio software suite, contribute to documentation and case studies, and actively bring forward improvements and innovations. My secondary responsibilities are to assist with workshop organisation, attend conferences with the marketing team, and test the software for non-engineering issues.

Kathryn Dompierre, Research & Development Engineer

I’m a civil engineer with a M.Sc. in environmental policy and a Ph.D. in geo-environmental engineering. My Ph.D. research focused on water, heat, and contaminant transfer through oil sands tailings in a reclamation system called an End Pit Lake.

Like the rest of my teammates, I assist with technical aspects related to the GEOSLOPE software, like testing new features / products before release, providing customer support by responding to technical support questions, giving workshops, and creating example files for our website. In addition to this, I am on GEOSLOPE’s marketing group, lead the development of tutorial videos, and am in charge of organising and promoting our webinars.