Updated 10 August 2020: George Koerner, Director of the Geosynthetic Institute, had the honor in 2017 of delivering the first Koerner Lecture. The series is named in honor of his father, the late Dr. Robert Koerner, who is internationally recognized as one of the godfathers of geosynthetics. Last year, I had the pleasure to see both Koerners at an ASCE’s GeoChicago conference and joined them, many of their family members, and a few engineers in a 3-mile pre-conference run. It was, in its way, emblematic of what the Koerner Family brings to geosynthetics: absolute energy and engagement and a drive to get people to move together.

In his lecture, George focused on a topic that the Geosynthetic Institute has monitored and studied for many years: exposed geomembrane performance.

Geosynthetica’s GeoTalk caught up with George at the Geotechnical Frontiers 2017 conference in Orlando.

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Image of exposed geomembrane performance
Photo by Solmax


“Exposed cover performance is really done well with polyolefin performance,” George Koerner says.

He cites the performance of facilities in Florida, which have even endured hurricane hits and survived (without suffering all of the soil erosion one would expect from a soil-covered cap).

“To get the geomembrane to last for the 30-year post-closure period is within our reach even in the harshest environments,” he says. “There are design challenges for that, but we can overcome them.”

One of the advantages in the exposed cover market, he notes, is that a business already exists for evaluating and pricing in whether to replace a system, or how a facility could be eventually be mined and material recycled before a “final cover” is set in place.

Photo of exposed geomembrane performance
Photo by Chris Kelsey

Landfills remain the most important market, but there remain additional opportunities for coal combustion residual and construction and demolition facilities or various Subtitle C installations.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Koerner on Lifetime Prediction of Geosynthetics


It was, as always, a joy to talk with George. GSI’s team reminds us constantly that each of us should be interested in what we do and who we work among. Don’t pass up the opportunities we have to contribute, to recognize the contributions of those around us, and to keep getting better.

For information on the Geosynthetic Institute’s work, monthly webinars, accreditation services, white papers, short courses, and more, visit www.geosynthetic-institute.org.