Académie des sciences

Charles-Augustin COULOMB : A geotechnical tribute

In 1773, Charles Augustin COULOMB submitted to the Academy of Sciences his memoir entitled "Essay on an application of the rules of maximis and minimis to some problems of Statics relating to Architecture".

This text is considered to be the foundation in geotechnics of subsequent work on the stability of slopes, pressures on retaining walls, bearing capacity of foundations, etc.

In order to pay tribute to the contributions of Coulomb in geotechnics and to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the publication of his memoir, the French Committee for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (CFMS) is organizing an international symposium intended to highlight the various contributions of Coulomb's theory to geotechnics. It will give the opportunity to French and European experts to testify to the importance of the legacy of Coulomb's work in today's geotechnics, including in its most recent developments.

During the symposium the annual honorary lecture "Coulomb Lecture" will be presented by Professor Robertson. This two-day symposium is placed under the patronage of the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Technologies, the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE) and has received the support of the National Federation of Public Works (FNTP).

Monday September 25, 2023
9:30-10:00 10:00-10:15 10:15-11:00 11:00-12:30
Welcome of participants Presentation of symposium Pr. J. Salençon Pr. P.K. Robertson
    Coulomb’s contribution to soil mechanics Honorary Coulomb’s lecture
Lunch break
14:00-14:45 14:45-15:30 15:30-16:00 16:00-16:45
P. Schmitt Pr. Callisto Coffe break Pr. Krabbenhoft
French practice for design of embedded walls: history and background, limitations of models Retaining structures including seismic analysis   Computational limit analysis and extensions
Gala dinner


Tuesday September 26, 2023
9:30-10:15 10:15-11:00 11:00:11:30 11:30-12:15
Pr. P. de Buhan Dr. J. de Sauvage Coffe break Dr. S. Lacasse
Application of the yield design theory to the stability analysis of reinforced soil structures An adaptation of Limit Equilibrium Methods for the design of soil-nailed walls facings   Coulomb, the artisan of modern geotechnical engineering
Lunch break
Technical visit (to be defined later)

Symposium location: FNTP, 3 rue de Berri - 75008 PARIS

The main language of the symposium is English.

Registration fees: 350€ (VAT included)
The registration fees include access to the symposium, coffee breaks, lunches, gala dinner, technical visit and proceedings.

The proceedings will be published as a special issue of the Revue Française de Géotechnique that will provided at the symposium. The special issue will include all contributions to the symposium plus a copy of the original Coulomb’s memoir to the Academy of Sciences.

Register here:

Steering Committee

  • Laurent BRIANÇON, INSA de Lyon (former treasurer of  CFMS) ;
  • Fahd CUIRA, Terrasol (past President of the CFMS Scientific and technical Committee) ;
  • Fabrice EMERIAULT, laboratory 3SR Grenoble (Vice-President of CFMS) ;
  • Philippe GOTTELAND, National French Federation for Civil Works FNTP (Technics and research dir.) ;
  • Alexandre LOPES, Terrasol (President of  CFMS young members Committee) ;
  • Farimah MASROURI, Université de Lorraine, editor in chief of French Journal of Geotechnics (Revue Française de Géotechnique) ;
  • Alain PECKER, consultant (President emeritus of CFMS) ;
  • Nicolas UTTER, Soletanche Bachy (President of CFMS).