Stephen G. Evans

Stephen G. Evans
Professor, Geological Engineering
Location: EIT 2024
Phone: 519-888-4567 x33232


Stephen Evans is interested in the occurrence and behavior of natural hazards, with a focus on catastrophic landslides, landslide dams, glacial hazards, tsunamis, and natural disasters. He is also interested in the behaviour of anthropogenic elements in the landscape, such as tailings dams and water retention dams.

As an expert in hazard assessment and risk analysis of these phenomena, his research has taken him to countries in Europe, North Africa, Asia, and the Americas (including Italy, Russia, Iran, Tajikistan, Algeria, the Philippines, Japan, China, Peru, El Salvador, United States and Canada).

Research Interests

  • Engineering geology: geology in the design and performance of engineering works
  • Geospatial modelling, advanced remote sensing techniques and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Hazard assessment and risk analysis of catastrophic natural hazards, especially catastrophic landslides
  • Behaviour of anthropogenic elements in the landscape
  • Urban damage systems and life loss in conflict and natural disasters
  • Geohazards: Risks and Prevention
  • Natural Disasters

Scholarly Research

Professor Evans is interested in the occurrence and behavior of catastrophic landslides, landslide dams, glacial hazards, tsunami and other natural hazards, hazard assessment (including magnitude and frequency), risk analysis, and natural disasters. Investigation of the 2011 Japan tsunami, has also led to the conceptual development of the architecture and behavior of urban damage systems and related life loss. Projects have included i) an analysis of the largest non-volcanic landslide on Earth at Seymareh (Zagros Mountains, Iran), ii) the analysis of urban damage in the 2011 Tohoku tsunami (Japan), iii) the 1962 and 1970 mass flows from Nevados Huascaran (Andes of Peru), iv) the formation, filling, and subsequent partial draining of Lake Gojal (a rockslide-dammed lake on the Hunza River in northern Pakistan), v) investigation of the 2016 twin glacier collapses in western Tibet, vi) catastrophic landslides in the glacier environment of NW North America (including Mount Meager (British Columbia - 2010), Lituya Mountain (Alaska - 2012), and Lamplugh Glacier (Alaska - 2016), vii) the analysis of tsunami hazard on Canada's Pacific Coast. This research supported by NSERC Discovery Grant and Grants from Canadian Space Agency. . Recent research includes i) collaboration with colleagues from Chengdu University of Technology and the State Key Laboratory of Geohazard Prevention and Geoenvironment Protection (SKLGP) on catastrophic landslides triggered by earthquakes, and associated river-damming events, in western China, ii) following a long-standing interest in the behaviour of anthropogenic elements of the landscape, member of the CanBreach 1.0 research consortium (2019-2023) formed to investigate the stability and failure behaviour of tailings dams, iii) currently, investigations are underway of the 2024 Papua New Guinea rockslide Professor Evans’ research portfolio also includes urban damage and civilian life loss in conflict (including urban damage and civilian life loss in strategic bombing and conventional missile attacks) funded by SSHRC.


  • 1983 PhD Geology (Engineering Geology), Department of Geology, University of Alberta, Edmonton
  • 1977 MSc (Eng.) Civil Engineering (Soil Mechanics), Department of Civil Engineering, Imperial College, London
  • 1976 MA Geography, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • 1969 BSc (Hons.) Geography (with Geology subsidiary), Department of Geography, King's College, London
  • Professional Engineer, Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia


  • 2024 Geological Society of America E.B. Burwell, Jnr., Award (with 6 co-authors) for a “peer-reviewed publication of distinction that advances knowledge concerning principles or practice of environmental and/or engineering geology”. The nominated paper was Global magnitude-frequency statistics of the failures and impacts of large water-retention dams and mine tailings impoundments published in Earth Science Reviews in 2022.
  • Recipient of the 2023 Schuster Medal (joint award of Canadian Geotechnical Society and Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists) for “outstanding contribution to geohazard research in North America”.
  • With N. Rana and co-authors recipient of the 2023 Canadian Dam Association (CDA) Published Paper Award of Excellence for the paper Global magnitude-frequency statistics of the failures and impacts of large water-retention dams and mine tailings impoundments published in Earth Science Reviews in 2022. This award recognizes the contribution made in authoring or coauthoring an outstanding article or technical paper related to dam engineering and/or the management of dams.
  • 2004 Thomas Roy Award, Canadian Geotechnical Society (Engineering Geology Division)
  • 2001 AEG (Association of Engineering Geologists) Publication Award for best paper in Environmental and Engineering Geosciences
  • 1995 Canadian Geotechnical Society Prize for best paper in Canadian Geotechnical Journal


  • Co-edited the volume on Catastrophic Landslides published by the Geological Society of America in 2002 in the series Reviews in Engineering Geology
  • NATO country co-director of a NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) on Massive Rock Slope Failure New Models for Hazard Assessment held in Celano, Italy in June 2002 and lead editor of the book Landslides from Massive Rock Slope Failure published by Springer in the NATO Science Series
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) country co-director of a NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) on The Security of Natural and Artificial Rockslide Dams held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in June 2004 and lead editor of the book Natural and Artificial Rockslide Dams to be published by Springer in the NATO Science Series
  • Editorial Board - Frontiers in Earth Science: Geohazards and Georisks
  • Lead Convenor, NSERC Connect Workshop on Landslides in Canada, Harrison Hot Springs, BC, October 2016.

Professional Associations

  • Canadian Geotechnical Society
  • Geological Society of America
  • American Geophysical Union
  • International Association of Engineering Geology and Environment

Affiliations and Volunteer Work

  • Member, The Water Institute
  • Fellow, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo


  • CIVE 750 - Topics in Geotechnical Engineering
    • Taught in 2022, 2023
  • EARTH 270 - Disasters and Natural Hazards
    • Taught in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023, 2024
  • EARTH 438 - Engineering Geology
    • Taught in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023, 2024
  • EARTH 490 - Field Course
    • Taught in 2020
  • EARTH 638 - Advanced Engineering Geology
    • Taught in 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023, 2024

* Only courses taught in the past 5 years are displayed.

Selected/Recent Publications

  • Rana, N.M., Delaney, K.B, Evans, S.G., Deane, E., Small, A., Adria, D.A.M., McDougall, S., N. Ghahramani, and Take, W.A. 2024. Application of Sentinel-1 InSAR to monitor tailings dams and predict geotechnical instability: practical considerations based on case study insights. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and thee Environment, 83:204.
  • Barlow, K., Mulligan, R.P., McDougall, S., Evans, S.G. Take, A.W. 2024. Simulation of breaching of laboratory-scale earth dams by overtopping with XBeach. Coastal Engineering, 189 (2024) 104471.
  • Ghahramani, N., Adria, D.A.M., Rana, N.M., Llano-Serna, M., McDougall, S., Evans, S.G., Take, A.W. 2024. Analysis of uncertainty and sensitivity in tailings dam breach-runout numerical modelling. Mine Water and the Environment
  • Goda, K., and Evans, S.G. 2023. Development of Tsunami Frequency-Fatality Numbers ( F-N ) Curve for Coastal Communities Subjected to Cascadia Subduction Earthquakes. Proceedings, ASCE Inspire 2023
  • Han, M., Evans, S.G., He, K., Sun, H., Ma, Z. 2023. The structure of a magnitude-frequency relation for debris flows conditioned by earthquake shock. Frontiers in Earth Sciences, 10:946301. doi: 10.3389/feart.2022.946301
  • Mani, P., Allen, S., Evans, S.G., Kargel, J.S., Mergili, M., Petrakov, D., Stoffel, M. 2023. Geomorphic process chains in high-mountain regions – A review and classification approach for natural hazards assessment. Reviews of Geophysics, 61, e2022RG000791. https://, 51 p.
  • Adria, D.A.M., Ghahramani, N., Rana, N.M., Martin, V., McDougall, S., Evans, S.G., Take, W.A. 2023. Insights from the compilation and critical assessment of breach and runout characteristics from historical tailings dam failures: implications for numerical modelling. Mine Water and the Environment
  • Ghahramani, N. et al. 2022. A benchmarking study of four numerical runout models for the simulation of tailings flows. Science of the Total Environment, 827, (2022) 154245.
  • Rana, N.M., Ghahramani, N., Evans, S.G., Small, A., Skermer, N., McDougall, S., Take, W.A. 2022. Global magnitude-frequency statistics of the failures and impacts of large water-retention dams and mine tailings impoundments. Earth Science Reviews, 232, 104144. https//
  • Innes, S., Ghahramani, N., Rana, N., McDougall, S., Evans, S.G., Take, W.A., Kunz, N.C. 2022. The development and demonstration of a semi-automated regional hazard mapping tool for tailings storage facility failures. Resources, 2022, 11, 82. https//
  • Rana, N.M., Ghahramani, N., Evans, S.G., McDougall, S., Small, A., Take, W.A. 2021. Catastrophic mass flows resulting from tailings impoundment failures. Engineering Geology 292, 106262.
  • Walsh, A., McDougall, S., Evans, S.G., Take, W.A. 2021. Effect of upstream dam geometry on peak discharge during overtopping breach in noncohesive homogenous embankment dams; implications for tailings dams. Water Resources Research http/;doi 10.1029/2020WR029358.
  • Evans, S.G., Delaney, K.B., and Rana, N. 2021. The occurrence and mechanism of catastrophic mass flows in the mountain cryosphere. In: Haeberli, W. and Whiteman, C.A. (eds.). Snow and Ice-Related Hazards, Risks and Disasters, Elsevier, 2nd Edition, pp. 541-596.
  • Luo, J., Evans, S.G., Pei, X., Huang, R., Liu, M., Dong, X. 2020. Anomalous co-seismic surface effects produced by the 2014 Mw 6.2 Ludian earthquake, Yunnan, China: an example of complex faulting related to Riedel shear structures. Engineering Geology, 266,
  • Ghahramani, N., Mitchell, A., Rana, N. M., McDougall, S., Evans, S. G., and Take, A. 2020. Tailings-flow runout analysis: Examining the applicability of a semi-physical area–volume relationship using a novel database. Natural Hazards & Earth System Sciences 20, 3425-3438.
  • Zhu, Y. and Evans, S.G. 2019. Mapping tropical cyclone energy as an approach to hazard assessment. In Hurricane Risk, Volume 1 (Edited by J.M. Collins & K. Walsh), Springer Nature, p. 71-87.
  • Evans, S.G., Luo, J., Pei, X., and Huang, R. 2019. The 2014 Ludian co-seismic landslide dam (Yunnan, China); transformation from high hazard to dual purpose water conservancy and hydropower project. In: Tornier, J-P., Bennett, T., Bibeau, J. (eds.) Sustainable and Safe Dams Around the World, Proceedings ICOLD, Ottawa, v. 2, p. 3008-3023.
  • Luo. J., Pei, X., Evans, S.G., Huang, R. 2019. Mechanics of the earthquake-induced Hongshiyan landslide in the 2014 Mw 6.2 Ludian Earthquake, Yunnan, China. Engineering Geology, 251, 197-213.
  • Fan, X., Scaringi, G., Korup, O., West, J.A., van Westen, C.J., Tanyas, H., Hovius, N., , Hales, T.C., Jibson, R.W., Allstadt, K.E., Zhang, L., Evans, S.G., Xu, C., Li, G., Pei, X., Xu, Q., Huang, R. 2019. Earthquake-induced chains of geologic hazards: patterns, mechanisms and impacts. Reviews of Geophysics, 57.
  • Kaab, A., Leinss, S., Gilbert, A., Bühler, Y., Gascoin, S., Evans, S.G., Bartelt, P., Berthier, E., Brun, F., Chao, W-A., Farinotti, D., Gimbert, F., Guo, W., Huggel, C., Kargel, J.S., Leonard, G., Tian, L., Treichler, D., Yao, T. 2018. Massive collapse of two glaciers in western Tibet in 2016 after surge-like instability. Nature Geoscience. 11, 114-120
  • Delaney, K.B. and Evans, S.G. 2017. The evolution (2010-2015) and engineering mitigation of a rockslide-dammed lake (Hunza River, Pakistan); characterisation by analytical remote sensing. Engineering Geology, 220, 65-75.
  • Delaney, K.B. and Evans, S.G. 2015. The 2000 Yigong landslide (Tibetan Plateau), rockslide-dammed lake and outburst flood: review, remote sensing analysis, and process modelling. Geomorphology, 246, 377-393.
  • Evans, S.G. and DeGraff, J.V. (Editors) 2002. Catastrophic landslides: effects, occurrences and mechanisms. Geological Society of America Reviews in Engineering Geology, v. 15, 412 p.
  • Evans, S.G. Scarascia-Mugnozza, G., Strom, A.L., and Hermanns, R.L. (Editors) 2006. Landslides from massive rock slope failure. NATO Science Series IV, v. 49, Springer, Dordrecht, 689p.
  • Evans, S.G., Hermanns, R.L., Strom, A.L., and Scarascia-Mugnozza, G. (Editors) 2011. Natural and Artificial Rockslide Dams, Lecture Notes in the Earth Sciences v. 133, Springer, Heidelburg, 642p.
  • Please see Stephen G. Evans' Google Scholar profilefor a current list of his peer-reviewed articles.

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