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John Mitchell Lecture 2023: road asset, socioeconomic & fatality risk from debris flow

Event organised by The British Geotechnical Association

24 January 2023

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Fast-moving, rainfall-induced debris flow events are relatively common in the mountainous areas of the UK. The mechanisms of rainfall-induced, fast-moving debris flows will be considered as they bridge between slow mass movements and flood phenomena. A series of case studies of debris flow impacts from Scotland and overseas will be described.

A wide-ranging view of hazard and risk assessment will be delivered, encompassing semi-quantitative regional assessment and quantitative site assessments of debris flow hazards and risks. Focussing on road networks to articulate the principles, the risks will be considered in terms of those that affect road users (fatality), the socio-economic activities that the network facilitates and the road infrastructure itself.

A strategic approach to risk reduction will be used to illustrate how a clear focus on the overall goal of risk reduction can be beneficial in developing an effective strategy before homing in on the desired outcomes and the generic approach to achieving those outcomes. The effects of climate change on debris flow hazard and risk will be considered as will the issue of where landslide risk reduction sits within sustainability. Some issues surrounding the practice of risk assessment will also be highlighted.


18:30 - 18:35

Chair's introduction

18:35 - 19:20

Presentation by professor Mike Winter

19:20 - 19:50

Q&A session

19:50 - 20:00

Closing remarks

20:00 - 21:00

Optional drinks reception in the library


Event close


Professor David Toll

Professor David Toll

Durham University


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Professor David Toll

David Toll is a Professor in the Department of Engineering and Co-Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience at Durham University. He is a Fellow of ICE and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. He has been Chair of Technical Committees of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) and the Federation of International Geo-Engineering Societies (FedIGS). He has also been Chair of ICE North East and the Northern Geotechnical Group. He has been carrying out research into climate resilience of infrastructure and information technology applied to civil engineering for 30+ years and has published over 200 papers and 12 books.

Mike Winter

Mike Winter

Winter Associates


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Mike Winter

Mike is a Charted Civil Engineer (FICE), a Chartered Geologist and a RoGEP Adviser. Director of Winter Associates his areas of expertise include landslides; engineering in glacial soils; soil compaction; soil acceptability for earth working; slope stability; soil slope strengthening; retaining systems; and the use of waste geomaterials and waste materials in geo-structures.

This work has been widely adopted in teaching and practice from his near-300 publications. He is a former QJEGH Chief Scientific Editor and led the organisation of the 2015 XVI ECSMGE. He is Visiting Industrial Professor of Engineering Geology & Geotechnics at the University of Portsmouth, and an Adjunct Professor in the UNESCO-Chair Programme on Geoenvironmental Disaster Reduction, at Shimane University, Matsue, Japan. Mike has worked in 35 countries on each of the world’s continents, with the major exception of Antarctica – in this respect, Mike remains open to offers.