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Events / Evening Meeting / The NZGS 2022 Geomechanics Lecture: The Question of Risk

The NZGS 2022 Geomechanics Lecture: The Question of Risk

Date / Time
Sep 13, 2022 @ 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Christchurch Branch Ann Williams RJ Edits (002)


This presentation will follow the New Zealand Geotechnical Society  AGM

Presented by Ann Williams


As geo-professionals, the essence of what we do is to recognise and respond to the uncertainty in the natural environment – an uncertainty which translates to risk for stakeholders.


As we know, the ground is formed by natural processes and is therefore made up of soils and rocks that are variable in form, properties and distribution. Risk arises from the interaction of ourselves and the built environment (our projects, our infrastructure) with the natural environment. Our task is to draw reasonable conclusions about risk from observations, investigations and analyses.


While the ground and the principles for going about making those observations and investigations remain unchanged, the tools and methods we have to undertake analyses and draw conclusions are changing rapidly. And the expectations on delivery from the practitioner of “broader outcomes”, sustainable and circular design, visual experience, and efficiency, mean that it is increasingly difficult to trace the path from observation and factual data to the conclusion.


Coupled with development on and in increasingly marginal ground (steeper, less stable slopes, larger cuts, longer tunnels) and the impacts of climate change, the nature of the risks is also evolving. This presentation examines, through examples, different ways of responding to the question of risk and how that advice and the way in which we deliver it, is also changing, with consideration of the benefits and pitfalls of those changes.

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