NZ Geomechanics News

Branch reports


Auckland has been treated to a continuing series of exciting talks this year. The ISSMGE and NZGS teamed up to present a panel discussion regarding “Collaboration in Geotechnical Engineering – Impact on Research and Project Delivery”. The panellists consisted of Ross Roberts, Auckland Council; Liam Wotherspoon, University of Auckland; Susan Tilsley, Beca; and Nick Wharmby, March Construction. Professor Misko Cubrinovski, University of Canterbury, discussed the three most important aspects in the engineering assessment of soil liquefaction with case studies in his 2019 Geomechanics Lecture. Dr Nick O’Riordan, a geotechnical engineer from ARUP, United Kingdom, provided an insight into the interactions when constructing within soils of the Anthropocene age in his 2018 Rankine Lecture titled “Dynamic Soil-structure Interaction”. Dr Jonathan Bray, University of Berkley, USA,  reminded us of the intricacy of estimating the liquefaction settlement under buildings with a live-streamed revision of the 6th Ishihara Lecture ‘Simplified Procedure for Estimating Liquefaction-Induced Building Settlement’.

Our upcoming presentations include:

  • “GIS for Geotechnical Professionals” by Colin Mazengarb

Many thanks to the University of Auckland, Geotechnics, Aurecon, and Beca for supporting our talks this year.


NZGS Geomechanics Lecture

We were very lucky to have Dr Misko Cubrinovski present the 2019 NZGS Geomechanics Lecture in Hamilton on 6 March at the University of Waikato.

Misko took the branch on a journey through three important aspects in the engineering assessment of soil liquefaction, i.e. material characterization of liquefiable soils, insitu state characterization of soils, and system response of liquefiable deposits.

The subject of this lecture was of particular relevance and interest for the Waikato membership. The evaluation of liquefaction susceptibility of our local soils is a hot topic at this time. The emphasis on the complexity of soil liquefaction and risks of over simplification were emphasised and in particular the influence of soil layering on the manifestation of liquefaction… or not.

Thanks to the event sponsor Schick Civil Construction for the kai and refreshments. And thanks to Vicki Moon for the venue organisation.

Future events are coming together nicely:

On 3 July Dr Seokho Jeong from the University of Waikato will be presenting on his recent study of seismic site period of the Waikato Basin using the Horizontal to Vertical (H:V) spectral ratio technique. This follows his recent research pater publication with co-author Dr Liam Wotherspoon from University of Auckland that was presented at the 2019 Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering.

A future presentation (date T.B.C) by  John Brzeski of Tonkin & Taylor will be on their recent Desktop Liquefaction Study completed for the Hamilton City Council. This comprehensive report was prepared to give Council guidance on when liquefaction assessment is needed and to what level is appropriate. It is obviously of value to practitioners as well, in scoping and executing these assessments knowing the level of detail that Council are anticipating. We hope for an open and stimulating Q and A session following Johns talk.
Further details on these events will be advertised soon.
We are also working on a site based event later in the winter. TBC


We have had a very busy few months here in Wellington with a wide variety of events passed and planned. We are really excited to have Safia Moniz join the committee. Safia has been busy assisting Shirley Wang with preparation for our upcoming YGP Conference.

Recent events include:

  • May – Screw pile installation, CentrePort, coordinated by Piletech, really well attended with 70+ people, live demonstration followed by tech talk and drinks/nibbles
  • May – Marc Elmouttie presented on Mining Geoscience Research at the CSIRO, thanks to Griffiths Drilling for sponsorship
  • March – Thank you MBIE (Nathan Schumacher) for hosting the 58th Rankine Lecture, a fascinating presentation on dynamic soil-structure interaction presented by Nick O’Riordan and attended by a diverse group of ground investigation contractors and consultants
  • March – Misko Cubrinovski’s NZGS Geomechanics Lecture was hosted by WSP Opus, Misko presented on important aspects in the assessment of liquefaction, very relevant to Wellington practitioners with CentrePort’s facility right on our door step!
  • February – A Joint presentation by Martin Wilson (Abseil Access) and Eric Ewe (Geofabrics) on rockfall mitigation measures.

Events planned:

  • YGP Conference, Shirley is coordinating the Wellington event. We are still looking for two mentors, so if you are a seasoned practitioner with a coach’s style, then lease contact Shirley Wang (
  • GIS for Geotechnical Professionals, An Evening Presentation, by Colin Mazengarb (RSVP to


It’s been a busy first half of the year in Canterbury with a number of high profile events including the Geomechanics Lecture (Prof. Misko Cubrinovski), the Geomechanics Award (Chris McGann and a number of lectures from visiting speakers including Prof. Steve Kramer (2018 H. Bolton Seed Lecture), and Dr. Nick O’Riordan (58th Rankine Lecture) and Prof. Jonathon Bray (6th Ishihara Lecture). On top of that we have hosted presentations from industry specialists Geofabrics and Abseil Access making use of the new Turanga Library in Christchurch – A great space!

Above left: Tony Fairclough, NZGS Chair presenting Chris McGann from the University of Canterbury with the NZ Geomechanics Award
Above: Tony Fairclough, NZGS Chair presenting Misko Cubrinovski from the University of Canterbury with the award for the NZ Geomechanics Lecture

We have had some great turn-outs to events, with a full-capacity 120 people for Prof. Kramer’s presentation, and around 75 for Prof. Bray. We have also trialled a new online RSVP system to give us an idea of numbers attending which has worked well for ensuring catering and room sizes are adequate.

Prof. Kramer and Prof. Bray’s talks were also live-streamed around the country to allow wider access to these one-off presentations. A big thanks to Dr. Mark Stringer from the University of Canterbury for organising this.

A huge thankyou to all of our event sponsors, the meetings would be a different environment without the food and beer!

On the 21st June we have our first Christchurch YGP Mini Symposium for South Island based members of the New Zealand Geotechnical Society who are under 35. This is a one day event locally based, less formal version of the highly successful ANZ YGP conference.

As always we would love to hear your feedback on previous events and welcome suggestions for future events.
See you at the next event!

NZ Geomechanics News
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 97 – June 2019
Society News

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