Geosynthetic Institute


Introduction to Geosynthetic Certification Institute-Inspectors Certification Program for

“Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Walls, Berms and Slopes Using Geosynthetic Reinforcement”




The Geosynthetic Certification Institute-Inspectors Certification Program (GCI-ICP) for “MSE Walls, Berms and Slopes Using Geosynthetic Reinforcement” is administered by the Geosynthetic Certification Institute which is a branch of the Geosynthetic Institute.  It is located in Folsom, Pennsylvania about four-miles from the Philadelphia International Airport.  Dr. George R. Koerner (Program Director) and Dr. Robert M. Koerner (Oversight) and Ms. Jamie Koerner (Administrator) are the principals involved.

Definition of CQA (as opposed to CQC) 


Construction quality assurance (CQA) and construction quality control (CQC) are widely recognized as critically important factors in overall quality management of constructed facilities of all types.  This includes MSE walls, berms, and slopes using geosynthetic reinforcement.  The best of designs and regulatory requirements will not necessarily translate to facilities that are protective of human health and environment unless they are properly constructed.  Additionally, for geosynthetics, both manufacturing quality assurance (MQA) and manufacturing quality control (MQC) are equally important.  Geosynthetics refer to factory fabricated polymeric materials like geogrids, geotextiles, etc.  The natural soils involved are backfill and drainage soils of various types.  In this context, the definitions of CQA as contrasted to CQC are as follows:



The certification program to be described herein focuses on CQA but can (and should) pertain to CQC as well.


The following flow chart describes the interactions of MQA/CQA and MQC/CQC as they apply to a particular project so as to produce an appropriate level of quality.




Figure 1 - Organizational Structure of Quality Control and Quality Assurance Activities


*Note that this certification program focuses on construction quality assurance (CQA) of MSE walls, berms and slopes, and only indirectly on manufacturing quality assurance (MQA) of their components.


The Value of CQA


While the overall performance of MSE walls, berms, and slopes using geosynthetic reinforcement might be considered as being reasonable, it has certainly been less than perfect.  Figure 1a shows several cases of excessive wall deformations, and Figure 1b shows cases of actual wall collapse.  Clearly, it is problems such as these which have prompted this program.  At a GSI Workshop held on April 1, 2010 representatives from about twenty member organizations suggested the need for a program reducing the causes for such failures.  It was also discussed that inadequate design and improper construction were the root causes of the failures in part because there was rarely any construction oversight which could have identified both the design inadequacies and the construction deficiencies.  This inspectors certification program is aimed at correcting these issues.  This two-way orientation by field inspectors (notification of design anomalies and correction of contractors errors) should help stem the number of failures of MSE walls, berms, and slopes.



Figure 1a – Cases of excessive wall deformations (GSI photos ands others).



Figure 1b – Cases of wall collapse (GSI photos and othes).