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Dean Marachi began his higher-education shortly after graduating in the top 7 (of 310 students) of the 1960 class of Alborz High School, Tehran's most prominent. One week after graduation he left Iran for the U.S.

In 1965, he earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Oregon State University with tuition scholarship grants for much of his undergraduate degree. He took all of the geotechnical engineering courses that were offered at OSU, as well as courses in geology. He worked in the soil mechanics laboratory on a research project for USSC to classify all soils in Oregon, and ran complete sets of soil classification tests on nearly 50 different soil types. He also worked on a research project for Professor Peterson on the behavior of dis-similar materials, e.g. reinforced wood, and developed a fundamental interest in learning interactive behavior of two dis-similar materials, the effects of boundary conditions, and what happens at the contact. This is a major topic in science and technology, e.g. paint industry, reinforced concrete, lined tunnels, concrete or steel pipelines through earth dams, etc.

He attended UC Berkeley in September of 1965 and received Masters of Science degree nine months later, continueing his graduate studies and earning his Ph.D. in May of 1969—only 2 years and 8 months later. In this period he took all courses offered in geotechnical engineering, including:

  • Soil mechanics
  • Foundation Engineering
  • Earth dams
  • Seepage and groundwater
  • Physico-chemical properties of clays
  • Theoretical soil mechanics
  • Soil dynamics
  • Pavement design
  • Field investigations and laboratory testing

For his two minors, as required for the Doctorate degree, he selected Geological Engineering and Physics of the Earth/Seismology. For the geological engineering minor, he again took all courses that were offered, including:

  • Air photo interpretation
  • Geological mapping and structural analysis
  • Geophysical investigations
  • Rock mechanics (theoretical, applied, and field and laboratory testing)
  • Soil and rock tunneling
  • Rock block stability

For the seismology/physics of the earth minor, the courses he took covered the following:

  • Plate tectonics
  • Mountain building/Isostasy
  • Heat transfer/convection, conduction
  • Physiography / geomorphology
  • Wave propagation in solids, liquids, gases
  • Faulting
  • Seismicity

Additionally, he audited courses in structural dynamics, computer methods/finite element method of analysis, and statistical thermal physics.

To support himself and his family he worked as Research Assistant during his graduate studies. Some of the research work he undertook are as follows.

Research for Professor J. M. Duncan was mostly on properties of unsaturated soils, suction pressure in unsaturated soils and its effect on measured permeability, velocity of saturated front as a function of water content. He also worked on the effect of intermediate principal strain (not the stress) on strength of sandy soils. Later he and Prof. Duncan published this work as it had important practical implications in geotechnical engineering.

Edward Hyatt powerplantHe also did research for Prof. R. E. Goodman, which included development of a computer program for, and stability analysis of a 3-D model of rock block and seepage pressures in the abutments of Malpasset Dam to explain the mechanism of the 1960 failure causing loss of 3,000 lives. He also performed a finite element analysis of stresses in the roof of the underground excavation of the Hyatt Power Plant at the Oroville Dam facility, then under construction, to assess rock bolt requirements for the cavity.

Dr. Marachi's doctoral research, then under the tutelage of the late Professor H. Bolton Seed, involved a comprehensive study of strength and deformation properties of rockfill material. This research, estimated at $20M, was financed through grants from California DWR, National Science Foundation, USBR and a number of other agencies. It included design of highly elaborate testing equipment, instrumentation, and laboratory testing of actual and modeled rockfill material. Results of his pioneering research have been used for confirmation of the design of Oroville and Pyramid dams in California, El Infernilo dam in Mexico, and Tarbella dam in Pakistan, which are all built and working satisfactorily. It is also published and/or referred to by most text books in geotechnical engineering as well as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation design manual for dams.