GeoVirtual 2020 Logo from CGS

The Canadian Geotechnical Society’s annual conference was to be held in Calgary this September, but the local organizing committee made the decision to reschedule the in-person GeoCalgary for 2022. (The 2021 gathering was already scheduled for Niagara Falls.) The CGS, meanwhile, began planning to still hold its annual conference. For the time, it will be a digital event: GeoVirtual 2020.


The Canadian Geotechnical Society is one of the oldest and most influential geotechnical societies in the world. CGS has set the dates for GeoVirtual 2020 as September 14 – 16.

GeoVirtual 2020 even has a unique event website now:

“GeoVirtual 2020 will be a professionally run conference that will follow a similar format to what CGS conference delegates are accustomed to,” the CGS writes in its June 2020 newsletter. “We have confirmed that Dennis Becker will deliver the R.M. Hardy Keynote Address and Ariane Locat will give the 2020 CGS Colloquium. There are special sessions planned such as the Heritage Session and Women in Geotechnique panel, in addition to multiple concurrent sessions where authors will present their papers.”

The conference also noted it is planning networking opportunities and to make the online platform as engaging as possible.

The GeoVirtual 2020 website is being updated quickly. Keep checking the site, and follow the CGS in social media for more.

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The CGS’s entry into a major digital event is quite welcomed. It is certainly a measure that can succeed. Across the world, we are seeing more events opt to move online this year over cancelling or moving to another year.

Notably, the Australian Centre for Geomechanics pulled off a pretty epic feat in May when it held the Slope Stability 2020 conference entirely online, with almost no time to prepare. They enjoyed strong participation in the presentations, they retained their sponsorship support, and they made the entire proceedings open online.

On a smaller scale, TRI Environmental utilized online learning to deliver its popular geosynthetics CQA courses in early June. The company will still hold the courses live in November in Austin, Texas at GeoU 2020 (alongside other high-level geosynthetics courses); but since TRI typically delivers two opportunities for the CQA training per year, it didn’t want to disappoint engineering houses, regulators, and landfill operators that would have normally attended the spring CQA sessions. The live, virtual classes, supported by the same instructors and used the same curriculum, were a success.


Virtual events are readily scalable. The engineering community is adjusting and supporting these measures. The Canadian Geotechnical Society is serving its members well with this initiative.