Geotechnical Center of Excellence

New and Larger Risks

Because the operations are larger and often closer to communities, the impact of geotechnical failure can be devastating and measured in the number of lives lost, costs in billions of dollars, square miles of environmental damage and loss of reputation for individual companies and the industry as a whole.


Mining has been changing at a faster pace than ever before because of the increasing demand for the materials we produce, and the speed of technological advances, as well as the quickly evolving social priorities around safety, the environment, and social license to operate. Mining companies now mine deeper, faster, and closer to communities than ever before.

The Geotechnical Center of Excellence is a stakeholder-led organization, working across the University of Arizona, the mining industry and other institutions to:

• develop innovative geotechnical solutions;
• deliver graduates from multiple disciplines prepared to work in the geotechnical field;
• provide critical professional development training.


Bringing Solutions

Professional Development

  • Free content
  • Online courses
  • Certificate courses
  • Workshops
  • Symposiums


  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate
  • Majors
  • Multi-use of content
  • Scholarships

Innovative Research

  • Multi-disciplinary
  • Leveraged
  • Applied Research
  • Basic Research
  • Central repository of knowledge

Contact Us

Brad Ross, Ph.D.,

Director, Geotechnical Center of Excellence, Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources.

Professor of Practice, Mining Engineering

(520) 827-9649


Become a Member

Memberships are available with varying levels of benefits. Visit our website to learn more!

  • Board Level Partner
  • Leadership
  • General
  • Associate
  • Technical Advisor

View membership levels (PDF)

GCE Flyer

Download the Critical Controls Database

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Detecting and predicting rockfall events

rockfall snow

Beginning in fall 2020, the Geotechnical Center of Excellence (GCE) will test various models of thermal imaging cameras at several open pit mines around the country to see if they can predict rockfalls and slides before they occur. If the cameras can sufficiently measure the movement of rocks, it could save miners from injury or death.

The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has selected GCE’s application for nearly $400,000 in funding.

Read more

Real-world radar experience

Ryan Brock

In 2020, GCE completed a comparison of two types of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that can contribute to effective monitoring of mining sites.

The work by Graduate Research Assistant Ryan Brock and Assistant Director Chad Williams demonstrated that both satellite-based interferometric SAR (InSAR) and ground-based SAR provide different kinds of important information. When combined, they provide a bigger picture of slope deformation that can be managed by an operation.

Read more

Detecting rockfall with thermal imaging

thumbnail for rockfall video

Watch the following video from the Geotechnical Center of Excellence (GCE) to see some interesting videos of using thermal imaging cameras to record rocks rolling down a 900 ft. pit slope!

The GCE is doing research on one of mining's most difficult but critical safety problems - how to detect and monitor rockfall events in surface mines. With a contract from NIOSH, the GCE is testing four different thermal cameras on their capability and limitation to detect rockfall events.

Watch the video on YouTube