25 to 28 October 2016
Above: Philippa Mills (centre) presented with the New Zealand Geotechnical Societies Youth Fellowship Award. With Charlie Price (left) and Darren Paul (right)
The 11th biennial Australia New Zealand Young Geotechnical Professionals Conference (11YGPC) was held recently in Queenstown. A good time was had by all and some would even say it went off with a bang. They were probably the ones who went over time with their presentations and were shot with a nerf gun.
The fifty delegates all aged 35 years or under assembled in spectacular Queenstown. This was the largest number of delegates to ever attend the YGPC and they were selected from over 80 abstracts. Maybe the popularity had something to do with the venue, we’d like to think it is a reflection of the level to which young geotechnical practitioners are engaged with the profession.
The objective of the conference is to provide young geotechnical professionals who otherwise have little or no experience of presenting their work to their peers, the opportunity to do so in a relaxed, low pressure forum. The delegates included a wide range of people from town and country, big firms and small, a few years experience to 10 years or so. As organisers, it was rewarding to see each delegate gain satisfaction from completing their presentations. We hope they are inspired to attend further conferences in the future.
With 50 presentations to get through in two days the nerf gun was essential, although not often used, to keep us on track. The presentations were diverse and obviously engaging; the nerf gun was also supposed to double as the “wake up tool” but was never needed, may be the odd toot from the Earnslaw sailing past the window helped with this.
The evenings included a conference dinner at the top of the Gondola and a less formal dinner the following night in Queenstown. This provided plenty of chances to mingle, with many new contacts made.
The panel of mentors, which included Darren Paul (AGS Immediate Past Chair), Charlie Price (Chair of the NZGS) and Nick Wharmby (Technical Manager, March Construction) were assigned the very difficult task of selecting the best presentations from a quality field. The winners were:
• Don Douglas Youth Fellowship Award, Nigel Ruxton of Golder Associates, Brisbane, for his work to develop a ground model and design for a challenging brownfields landfill site in south east Queensland underlain by mine workings.
• The New Zealand Geotechnical Society’s Young Geotechnical Professionals Fellowship was awarded to Philippa Mills of Coffey Geotechnics, Auckland, for her work in seeking to develop an understanding of the constitutive behaviour and failure mechanisms in the highly sensitive volcanic soils of northern New Zealand.
Nigel and Philippa will have the opportunity to present their papers and to represent Australia and New Zealand respectively at the international young geotechnical professional’s conference (6iYGC) in South Korea, 2017.
In addition to the main prizes, two high commendations were awarded:
• Romy Ridl, University of Canterbury for her work in looking at topographical influences on in-situ stresses and deformations in the Cromwell Gorge.
• Hamish McEwan of AECOM, Hamilton for his work in developing an understanding of the geology in a foreign country and training local geologists in site investigation techniques.
The popular award, voted on by the delegates went to Mondli Magagula of Jones and Wagener South Africa for his presentation on undertaking site characterisation around a sinkhole. His line of ‘the sinkhole is about the same size as this gap in the Springboks defence’ whilst showing a slide of the Wallabies playing the Springboks was easily the quote of the conference.
After two days of presentations, the final day was spent on a field trip to the Clyde Dam. The trip was led by Jesse Dykstra of Aecom and Greg Saul of Opus and took in a series of large landslides on the sides of the Cromwell George that were stabilised prior to the filling of Lake Dunstan in 1992-93. The field trip finished with a trip down an investigation/monitoring adit in the Clyde Slide and a tour of the Dam. The Dam seismic slip joint, which can accommodate up to 2m of movement in the underlying river fault was of considerable interest as always. Thanks to Don Macfarlane for arranging the field trip and Contact Energy for providing access and the dam tour (as well as lunch!).
Conference delegates on the field trip to the Clyde Dam
We’d like to acknowledge the conference sponsors, Opus, March Construction, T+T, Geotechnics, Aecom, Drillforce, DCN Drilling, Contract Landscapes and Southern Geophysical for their support.
The future of our profession in Australia and New Zealand is bright and we look forward to 12YGPC to be held in Australia, 2018. We encourage all young Geotechs to keep an eye out for the call for abstracts. It is well worth attending. For those who were at 11YGPC hopefully we will see you at future NZGS events.