Obituary 14 Jan 2018

TunnelTalk Reporting

Prof Don U Deere, who died on 14 January 2018 in Gainsville, Florida, at age 95, was part of a small group of rock engineers that decisively influenced the development of rock mechanics in the 20th Century.

Don Deere 1922-2018
Don Deere 1922-2018

Prof Deere graduated in mining engineering at Iowa State University in 1943, earned an MSc in Geology at the University of Colorado in 1949 and obtained a PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois in 1955. After working as a mining engineer in Arizona and New Mexico, he moved to the University of Puerto Rico and started the Foundation Engineering Company of Puerto Rico.

In 1955 he accepted appointment as an associate professor in the departments of Civil Engineering and Geology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana Campus, and together with Prof Ralph Peck, led and pioneered geotechnics and rock mechanics in the USA, helping to lead the University’s geotechnical engineering program to international prominence. In 1972 he moved to Gainesville where he co-founded Deere and Merritt, a consulting firm in geology and rock mechanics. In the same year he joined the University of Florida.

On-site was a natural habitat
On-site was a natural habitat

During his career he was recognised as an expert on tunnelling, dam building and design, and the construction of large underground spaces. Among major projects to which he contributed included the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France, the Washington DC subway, and numerous hydroelectric facilities throughout the Americas, most notably Itaipu on the on the Paraná River border between Brazil and Paraguay, the world's largest hydroelectric project at the time.

From 1968 to 1973 he was the President of the Commission on Standardization of Laboratory and Field Tests of the ISRM and in 1989 he was appointed by USA President Ronald Reagan as Chairman of the US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.

He received numerous distinctions throughout his career including being elected to both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences. He wrote and co-authored numerous papers and was the inventor of the RQD – Rock Quality Designation - rock mass assessment tool and, together with Prof Giovanni Lombardi, he invented the GIN method of grouting.

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