Richard Sisson
Richard C. Sisson, Ph.D.
Managing Engineer
Civil Engineering
  • Denver

With 30 years of experience as a geotechnical engineer, Dr. Sisson specializes in design of foundations and retaining structures, slope stability assessment, site investigation, and geotechnical aspects of tailings and water storage facilities. He has had technical responsibility for geotechnical design of commercial and residential developments, and transportation, mining, and oil and gas projects in a wide variety of geologic environments across the Western United States and Canada. He has authored or co-authored 15 technical papers describing this work.

Dr. Sisson has a wide range of geotechnical design experience ranging from planning studies, due diligence and feasibility assessments to detailed design and construction engineering. He has also performed standard of care evaluations and evaluated construction claims related to differing site conditions. Dr. Sisson’s experience includes assessing swelling and hydrocompaction potential for pavement and bridge foundation soils along the I-25 corridor in Denver, foundations for industrial facilities in southern California and a hospital in Black Diamond, Alberta, and for deep fills in Calgary, Alberta. His foundation design and construction experience includes residential and commercial developments, hospitals, schools, manufacturing facilities, oil and gas plants, retaining walls, tanks, bridges, and highways.

He is familiar with expansive soils, collapsible soils, sensitive soils, stiff fissured clays, pre-sheared clay shales, peat, alluvial, colluvial, and glacial soils, loess, frozen soils and permafrost, and dredged materials. He has considerable experience with drilling and sampling, advanced in-situ and laboratory soil testing, geotechnical instrumentation, characterization of soft to very soft soils and non-Newtonian fluids, evaluation of fills placed underwater, earthwork and mass grading, mine water balances, frozen soils and permafrost, cold regions construction, hydraulic fracturing of soils, and unsaturated soil mechanics. He has performed engineering analyses of soil settlement and subsidence, internal soil erosion (“piping”), ground vibrations, earth pressures, slope instability and creep, groundwater infiltration, earthquake ground shaking, liquefaction, lateral spread, pavement systems. He has designed and evaluated performance of mine tailings and water storage dams, completed mine dewatering and pit stability designs, planned mine reclamation and closure, assessed and analyzed slope stability of levees, landslides, and embankments, designed unlined and lined fluid storage ponds, characterized geotechnical conditions for pipeline routes, and monitored geotechnical aspects of earthwork construction.

Dr. Sisson has practiced as both a geotechnical consultant and as a technical manager for oil sands mining operations, providing him with a broad perspective on planning, permitting, designing, constructing, and operating processes. His professional career has benefited from extensive involvement in, and leadership of, multi-disciplinary engineering, scientific, and technical teams and review boards, including working closely with engineering geologists, hydrologists, hydrogeologists and hydraulic engineers, mining engineers, chemical and process engineers, structural engineers, architects, instrumentation specialists, seismologists, geophysicists, and soil scientists, biologists, and foresters.

CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1990
  • M.Eng., Geotechnical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1982
  • B.S.C.E., Civil Engineering, Michigan State University, 1979, high honors

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Professional Engineer, Alberta, #5774

Professional Engineer, Colorado, #PE.0051048

Professional Engineer, California, #41122

Professional Engineer, Ohio, #81008

Professional Engineer, Saskatchewan, #30786

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, #66318

Publications

Langseth J, Luger D, Jacobs W, Sisson R, Sittoni L, Hedblom E, Greenleaf T.. Placement of Caps on Soft & Fluid Tailings. Tailings and Mine Waste ’15, Vancouver, B.C., 2015.

Swenson J, Wallace D, Sheets B, Sisson R. Simplified Water Chemistry Model for Oil Sands Facilities. Presented at Water Technologies Symposium 2015, Kananaskis, Alberta, April 20–22, 2015.

Luger D, Sisson, R, Sittoni L, Pennekamp,. Sediment Deposition—Integration of Physics and its Consequences for Modelling. 4th International Oil Sands Tailings Conference, 2014.

Abeda W, Sisson R. Design of Horizon Waste Area 1. Canadian Geotechnical Society GeoRegina 2014.

Sisson R, Lacoste-Bouchet P, Vera M, Costello M, Hedblom E, Sheets B, Nesler D, Solseng P, Fandrey A, Van Kesteren W, Talmon A, Sittoni L. An Analytical Model for Tailings Deposition Developed from Pilot Scale Testing. 3rd International Oil Sands Tailings Conference, 2012.

Sisson R, Chan WK, Fear C. Horizon Dyke 10 Geotechnical Design. CGS GeoManitoba 2012.

Patrick, B. Sisson R. Horizon Dam Design, Construction and Quality Management. Canadian Geotechnical Society, GEO2010.

Moore T, Sobkowicz J, Workman C, Sisson R. Simulation of Large Tank Loading Using Test Fill. Sea to Sky Geotechnique, 2006.

Sisson RC, Harris CJ, Mokwa RM. Design of Laterally Loaded Piles Is Stiff Clays and Clayshales. GeoSupport, 2004.

Tuttle S, Sisson R. Closure Planning for the Proposed Millennium Project. Proceedings, 7th International Symposium on Mine Planning and Equipment Selection, 1998.

Sisson R. Deep Fills in Calgary, Alberta. Presentation given at ASCE National Convention, 1995.

Sisson R, Brovold F. Twitchell Island Levee Improvements, Northern California Delta Area. Vancouver Geotechnical Society, 9th Annual Symposium, June 2, 1995.

Foott R, Sisson R, Bell R. Threatened Levees on Sherman Island. ASCE Slope Stability Conference, 1992.

Sisson R. Lateral Stresses on Displacement Penetrometers. Dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the Ph.D. requirements at the University of California, Berkeley, 1990.

Mitchell JK, McMillan JC, Green SL, Sisson RC. Field Testing of Cable Backfill Systems. Proceedings, Symposium on Underground Cable Thermal Backfill, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, September 17–18, 2015.


Prior Experience

Senior Geotechnical Consultant, Barr Engineering, 2013–2015

Manager, Tailings Engineering, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., 2002–2013

Senior Engineer, Terracon Consulting Engineers and Scientists, 2000–2002

Manager, Tailings Engineering, Suncor Energy, 1996–2000

Manager, Geotechnical Engineering, EBA Engineering, 1993–1996

Senior Engineer, Roger Foott Associates, 1989–1993

Staff Engineer, Dames & Moore, 1981–1983


Professional Affiliations

Member, American Society of Civil Engineers—ASCE

Canadian Geotechnical Society

Canadian Institute of Mining

Project Experience

Provided senior technical engineering for the US $2.4 billion TRex design-build transportation project in Denver, including geotechnical engineering for drilled shaft bridge foundations, Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE), Cast-in-Place concrete, and tangent/secant pile retaining walls, and concrete and asphalt pavements.


Directed and reviewed geotechnical aspects of engineering for site grading and foundation design associated with numerous residential subdivisions in Calgary, Alberta.

Performed and reviewed foundation design for commercial facilities in Alberta, California, and British Columbia.

Acted as Geotechnical Engineer for dam safety review of SaskPower’s Alberta Power System.

Established scope and provided technical review of investigation and preliminary geotechnical design efforts for a bitumen extraction and upgrading plant with over Cdn $4 billion of facilities at the new Horizon Oil-Sands plant, including conventional, Osterberg Cell and Statanamic pile load testing.

Directed and managed consultant’s design of a 65-meter-high, 13-kilometer-long tailings dam, for Horizon Dyke 10, one of the largest compacted earth dams (by volume) in the world. Led efforts to develop quality management plan for 10-year construction effort.

Served as design manager and construction engineer of record for a 29-meter-high Tar River diversion dam, situated on pre-sheared clay shale. Led engineering efforts from feasibility through construction, which was performed as an owner design-build project.

Acted as Responsible Engineer for two oil sands tailings dam safety reviews performed in accordance with Canadian Dam Safety Guidelines. Reviewed design, construction, and operations. Provided recommendations to optimize dam safety management system.

Participated in the Independent External Peer Review (IEPR) Panels for the Sutter Basin Pilot Feasibility Study, West Sacramento Project General Reevaluation Report, and Joe Pool Drilling study to provide geotechnical review in accordance with USACE procedures.

Provided senior review for design of tailings and brine storage ponds at Potash Corp of Canada facilities in Saskatchewan.


CREDENTIALS & PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Ph.D., Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1990
  • M.Eng., Geotechnical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1982
  • B.S.C.E., Civil Engineering, Michigan State University, 1979, high honors

LICENSES & CERTIFICATIONS

Professional Engineer, Alberta, #5774

Professional Engineer, Colorado, #PE.0051048

Professional Engineer, California, #41122

Professional Engineer, Ohio, #81008

Professional Engineer, Saskatchewan, #30786

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, #66318