Steep Slopes and the Use of GCCMs

Geosynthetic cementitious composite mats (GCCMs) have been used widely for new construction and rehabilitation of containment and fluid conveyance infrastructure. The uses have extended to a diverse range of sectors, such as mining, road, rail, civil, petrochemical, and agriculture.
The barrier solution, often summarized as “concrete on a roll,” has been particularly welcomed on sites that are characterized by limited access or infrastructure elements that cannot be removed and the barrier system must be positioned around.
One of the fastest growing uses of GCCMs is now with the security of steep slopes, an application in which this material class shows a number of advantages over more traditional options.


Projects with steep slopes often feature restricted access, have time constraints on construction, and are environmentally sensitive. One of the most complex steep slope projects where a Concrete Canvas (CC) GCCM was specified was in Caisan, Panama.
The site featured a rocky slope situated adjacent to a remote, track-like road that sat above a micro-electric turbine. While both the location and nature of the slope face made the project a challenge in and of itself, the aim of the project presented a further challenge. Water erosion and internal faults had caused significant instability of slope. It required urgent protection to prevent rocks and debris from falling onto the road and turbine below.

As a result, time restrictions and a requirement to protect lives and valuable infrastructure were a priority.
Poured concrete, shotcrete, geomats, and other traditional approaches were ruled out. They were deemed too time-consuming, costly, or simply impossible to implement due to access restrictions, including on any equipment that would be required to carry out the installation on a slope of this scale.
CC was identified as the best solution for the site. The flexible nature of the material allowed it to be installed in intimate contact with the slope face, providing durable protection. It was also easier and faster to install, as the contractors required nothing more than lifting equipment for the bulk rolls, climbing equipment to carry out the installation, and the ancillaries recommended for joining and fixing the material. The product also provided a welcomed environmental benefit. As CC has a low alkaline reserve washout, the project stakeholders did not find any environmental concerns in the hydration process that would be used after the rolls were installed.
Despite wet weather and cold nights, rolls of CC were able to be installed without delay and the site crew was able to perform all work efficiently. Since installation, the project has experienced heavy rains without adverse effects to the hillside.
For more information on Concrete Canvas GCCMs on steep slopes or in other applications, visit

Thanks to Geo Synthetica for this great article.
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