A feeling for soil and water, A tribute to prof. Frans Barends

Meindert Van, Evert den Haan & Jurjen van Deen (eds) (2011). A feeling for soil and water, A tribute to prof. Frans Barends. Deltares Select Series,Volume 7.


Soil mechanics became an independent area of research after Terzaghi realized that total soil pressure and pore water pressure together dictate the deformation of saturated soil. Frans Barends has made an enduring mark in a number of the many topics which are addressed by soil mechanics, and in this tribute to his career we focus on the interface of soil and water as it occurs around water defence structures. Although science understood more and more the strange interaction between soil and water, history continuously treats us with unexpected behaviour. Soil and water is a science and a craft. Experience is necessary and a feeling for soil and water has to be developed.

This tribute is formed around the dike, that most common of water defence structures. The effects of water within the dike and water passing through it, water passing over and under it, and the effects of water in front of and behind the dike are considered in the various contributions, both integrally and separately. The simple mound of earth a dike appears to be, belies the extremely complex phenomena, which transpire in each of these zones as soon as water enters the equation, and Frans has applied his mind and feeling to them all. The contributions in this tribute are for the main part written by Deltares colleagues, who have specialized in understanding one or more of these phenomena.

A bird’s eye view of dike safety is given in the first contribution, and the second also stands back from the microscopic analysis by considering the soil build-up around the dike on a larger scale and showing how stochastics can be used to arrive at local realisations. Then the various dike zones receive attention: seepage through the dike, revetments of the dike, micro-instability, macro-instability, uplift and translational instability behind and in the dike, piping underneath the dike, and finally flow sliding in front of the dike. The contributions were either purposely written for this book or reproduced from earlier publications. Frans’ influence can be traced in many of these contributions.

Science for Frans Barends was always in the context of engineering, that is providing society with the structures it needs and solving societal problems. Frans was involved in many large engineering projects and authorities all over the world have sought his knowledge of land subsidence for example. He has also given thought to the changing role of knowledge and technology in modern societies and how engineers should adapt to new societal demands. His Terzaghi Oration, given to the 16th International Conference of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering in Osaka in September 2005, was a landmark in this respect. It is included in abridged form at the end of this book. Frans is a source of wisdom that we, as colleagues, will miss after his retirement. Not only because of his prudence but particularly as a friendly source of inspiration.