The British Geotechnical Association (BGA) is the principal
association for geotechnical engineers in the United Kingdom.

The 61st Rankine Lecture

BGA Meeting
  • 15.03.2023
  • 17:30 - 19:30
  • The Great Hall, Sherfield Building, Imperial College London, Exhibition Road, SW7 2AZ
  • Event Type: BGA Meeting
  • Download to Calendar
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The 61st Rankine Lecture : Constitutive Modelling in Computational Geomechanics


Professor John Carter of the University of Newcastle, Australia

15th Mar 2023 17:30 hours

The Great Hall, Sherfield Building, Imperial College London, Exhibition Road, SW7 2AZ

Event Information

This event will be going ahead as planned on 15 March 2023 despite potential travel disruption in London due to strike action. It is recommended that you plan your journey in advance and make travel provisions where necessary.

This will be held as an in-person event and will also be webcast live.

Attending the lecture

If you plan to attend the Lecture in person, please note:

  • Advance booking is not required.
  • Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served between 4:00-5:15 pm.

You are asked:

  • To refrain from entering the Theatres before 4.45 pm
  • Not to reserve seats for absent colleagues
  • Kindly remain in your place once you have entered the Great Hall or Clore Lecture theatre
  • Please note that the Relay to the overflow Clore Lecture theatre will be the same as the live streaming to the YouTube Channel (see below).

Watching the lecture on line

If you plan to watch the lecture online:

The Lecture will be streamed live via YouTube using this LINK

Should the stream not load first time, please refresh you page to re-establish the stream connection. Should you experience any difficulties with the live feed, please email Truong Le ( with details of your issue.

Thank you for your co-operation and enjoy the event.

The Rankine Lecture

The Rankine Lecture is widely viewed as the most prestigious of the invited lectures in geotechnics. It commemorates William John Macquorn 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. He is best known for his theory for the earth pressure on retaining walls.

The Rankine Dinner will be held after the lecture. The call for tickets for the dinner is HERE. Please note the dinner is usually heavily oversubscribed.

Earlier in the day a Pre-Rankine Seminar 'Recent large-scale field research into offshore foundation behaviour' will be held in the Skempton Building at Imperial College London. Full details of the seminar can be found HERE.

This event is free to attend.


Constitutive models are an essential part of computational modelling in geotechnics; they are at the heart of almost all theoretical predictions of geotechnical structures. How the stress-strain (and perhaps time) response of soil (and rock) is represented in these mathematical models is usually the key to successful prediction of the behaviour of geotechnical structures. However, the important details of these models, particularly the idealisations that are made, may be poorly or incompletely understood, or ignored, sometimes at significant cost to the unwary analyst. Indeed, the capabilities and the shortcomings of these models, especially the more advanced models, are not always easy to ascertain. In some cases, determination of the values of the input parameters is not straightforward. Consequently, it may be difficult to determine which model to select for a particular task. This lecture will explore some of the more important developments in the constitutive modelling of soils and will attempt to address some of these issues of potential concern. The need for such models and the various attributes and capabilities that the commonly used models possess will be reviewed. Also discussed is the issue of matching a particular model to the geotechnical problem at hand, which model attributes are required and why. The intention is to place emphasis in this lecture on the physical basis of these models, rather than explore their mathematical complexity in detail. Some of the constitutive models encoded in the software packages used routinely in geotechnical practice are reviewed, and discussion is also provided on their specific limitations. Examples of practical applications, involving the solution of boundary and initial value problems, are described to illustrate both the advantages and some of the limitations of both commonly used and highly advanced constitutive models.

Speaker Biography

John Carter is a civil engineering graduate of the University of Sydney, Australia. He is an Emeritus Professor and former Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Engineering at the University of Newcastle, in New South Wales. He is also a former director of the geotechnical consultancy, Advanced Geomechanics (now Fugro AG), registered in Perth, Western Australia.

John is a geotechnical engineer with more than 40 years of experience in teaching, research, and consulting in civil and geotechnical engineering. His wide research interests include analytical and numerical modelling, soil-structure interaction, rock mechanics, the behaviour of carbonate soils, soft soil engineering, tunnelling, and offshore foundations.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Royal Society of NSW, Engineers Australia, and the Australian Institute of Building. In January 2006 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his “contributions to civil engineering through research into soil and rock mechanics and as an adviser to industry".

An event flyer can be downloaded here

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Refreshment Details

Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served between 4:00-5:15 pm

Lecture theatre doors open at 4:45 pm

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