Académie des sciences

Charles-Augustin COULOMB : A geotechnical tribute

All photos of the symposium

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).

This event received sponsorship from :

First Day : Monday September 25
Event Schedule Speaker Abstract and presentation Chairman
Opening and welcome 9h-9h45 Pr. A. Pecker


View video

A. Pecker - Professor ENPC ; CFMS President Emeritus
Introduction ISSMGE 9h45-10h Dr. M. Ballouz, President of ISSMGE Philosophie globale en géotechnique

View video

1st session 10h-10h45 Pr. J. Salençon

Coulomb’s contribution to soil mechanics

Coulomb's memoir on sol mechanics

View video

Coffee break 10h45-11h      
Honorary Coulomb’s lecture 11h-12h30 Pr. P.K. Robertson

Honorary Coulomb’s lecture

Developments in Seismic CPT and links to the Ménard Pressuremeter Test

View video

N. Utter - Soletanche Bachy ; President of CFMS
Lunch 12h30-14h      
2nd session 14h-14h45 Pr. Callisto

Retaining structures including seismic analysis

From "De la pression des terres et des revêtements" to the seismic analysis of retaining structures

View video

E. Faccioli - Formerly Professor Politechnico de Milano
Chairman Studio Geotecnico Italiano
14h45-15h30 Pr. Krabbenhoft

Computational limit analysis and extensions

Computational Limit Analysis and Extensions

View video

Coffee break 15h30-16h      
Workshop on retaining structures calculation methods (bilingual session) 16h-17h30 J.-D. Vernhes, UniLaSalle Institut Polytechnique

Earth pressure estimation –
What existed before Coulomb

View video

S. Burlon - Terrasol S. Borel - Soletanche Bachy ; President of EFFC
S.Burlon, Terrasol

Assessment of active and passive earth pressure : what do we owe to Boussinesq and Caquot?

View video

C. Maurel & G. Haiun, Cerema

Design of gravity walls : 50 years of French practice

View video

E. Bourgeois, Université Gustave Eiffel

The finite element method and embedded walls

View video

Gala dinner 19h30-22h30 Dinner cruise on La Seine river
Second Day : Tuesday September 26
Event Schedule Speaker   Chairman
3rd session 9h-9h45 P. Schmitt

French practice for design of embedded walls: history and background, limitations of models

French practice for design
of embedded walls

View video

S. Springman - Emeritus Professor ETH Zurich
9H45-10h30 Pr. P. de Buhan

Application of the yield design theory to the stability analysis of reinforced soil structures

Yield Design-based analysis of reinforced soil structures, making use of different models of reinforced soils

View video

Coffee break 10h30-11h      
4th session 11h-11h45 Dr. J. de Sauvage

An adaptation of Limit Equilibrium Methods for the design of soil-nailed walls facings

An adaptation of Limit Equilibrium Methods for the design of soil-nailed walls facings

View video

V. Bernhardt - Terrasol ; CFMS President Emeritus
5th Session 11h45-12h30 Dr. S. Lacasse

Coulomb, the artisan of modern geotechnical engineering

Charles Augustin de Coulomb
The artisan of modern geotechnical engineering
L'artisan de la géotechnique d'aujourd'hui

View video

R. Frank - Honorary Professor ENPC ; Former President of ISSMGE
Lunch 12h30-14h      
Workshop on retaining structures execution methods (bilingual session) 14h-16h N. Freitag, Terre Armée

Reinforced Earth and its heritage

View video

S. Burlon S. Borel
F.Louvel, Spie Batignolles Fondations

Execution of diaphragm walls and anchors – The latest innovations

View video

C.Justino, Soletanche Bachy

Concrete and geotechnics

View video

T.Huyghues-Beaufond, Société du Grand Paris

What to remember from 10 years of Grand Paris Express?

View video

Closure of symposium 16h-16h15 N. Utter

Closure of symposium

View video


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

The main language of the symposium is English.


The proceedings are published as a special issue of the Revue Française de Géotechnique. The special issue includes all contributions to the symposium plus a copy of the original Coulomb’s memoir to the Academy of Sciences.
Download the articles here :

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).