NZ Geomechanics News

Chair’s corner

I would like to start this article by acknowledging the sad passing of Dave Burns (AECOM, Auckland) on 27 January 2018 and remembering all of the fine work that he completed during his career. Forefront in my mind are his many years of service on the NZGS Management Committee (2008 – 2015), his term as the NZGS Chair (2011 to 2013), and, his mentoring of a countless number of geo-professionals throughout New Zealand and the wider Asia-Pacific region.

I feel extremely privileged to have been closely mentored by Dave, between 1986 and 1991, at the very start of my career. He was one of the most knowledgeable, ethical, collaborative and patent mentors that I have ever had. He passed on to me skills and a sound scientific approach to Engineering Geology which has ensured the successful outcome of all of my projects to date.
I mourn Dave’s passing, but celebrate an exemplary career and unparalleled contribution to our industry.

Since returning from my Christmas break I have working to strengthen the working relationships which have been built to date with the Structural Engineering Society (SESOC), the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE), the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and, Engineering New Zealand (ENZ). As part of this focus I have represented NZGS at the February 2018 SESOC Management Committee Meeting and the ENZ Engineering Innovation Summit and Technical Group Workshop during March 2018. I have also partaken in several other joint society and industry stakeholder meetings during March, April and May.
Many of the above discussions have centred on the desire to develop a robust mechanism which will enable practicing Engineers, Scientists and the wider construction industry to have direct input into the identification, prioritisation, implementation and funding of “national policy” projects in collaboration with MBIE. Examples of such projects include ongoing industry education, the review and update of standards, the development of new design guidelines and the continued enhancement and maintenance of existing guidelines. I believe this is an area of critical importance to ensure our industry, and the techniques which we deploy, are appropriate and keep pace with current technology and best practice. To date these discussions have been very encouraging with all parties finding general agreement on many key issues.

It gives me great pleasure to confirm that Professor Misko Cubrinovski (University of Canterbury) has accepted the 2018 award of the NZGS Geomechanics Lecture. Misko was still finalising the title for his presentation at the time of writing this article, however I anticipate that the term “liquefaction’ with feature in it somewhere. At this stage it is expected that his lecture series will be presented throughout New Zealand during December 2018 and/or February – March 2019, and at the next ANZ Conference in Perth, Western Australia, during April 2019.

Sally Hargraves (Terra Firma Engineering Ltd; Nelson) has been working to improve collaboration and communications with Civil Defence (CD) who are now a division of MBIE. Sally has passed the member information that she collected earlier this year over to the appropriate government representatives. NZGS will support MBIE and CD wherever possible to ensure that our members continue to provide appropriate and timely assistance to government in a future natural disaster. We understand that planning for further Tier 2 CD training has commenced and further updates will be provided to our membership at an appropriate time. Please contact Sally if you have any questions regarding our current collaboration project with CD.

Preparations and planning for the next round of training on the use and application of MBIE/NZGS Earthquake geotechnical engineering practice publications is well under way. At this stage it is anticipated that training courses for Modules 4, 5 and 6 will each be run separately during late 2018 or early 2019. ENZ are managing and organising these courses with technical support provided by MBIE and NZGS. Enrolment details will be issued to our members via the fortnightly email notices and posted onto the NZGS website in due course. ENZ will also issue enrolment notices separately to their membership, at the appropriate time, for these “must do” training courses.
Eleni Gkeli (WSP-Opus, Wellington) has continued to ensure that NZGS continues to provide high-value training courses to our members through 2018. The NZGS training courses and workshops which have been held during the first half of 2018 comprise:

Jet Grouting – Technology, Design and Control

– Presented by Professor Giuseppe Modoni.
– Was held in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
– Total of 30 attendees.

Principles and Practice of Engineering Geology

– Presented by Fred Baynes, Stuart Read and Ann Williams.
– Was held in Auckland and Wellington.
– Total of 47 attendees.

Quantitative Risk Assessment in Geotechnical Engineering

– Presented by Professor Vaughan Griffiths.
– Was held in Wellington and Christchurch.
– Total of 41 attendees.

The feedback received on all of the above courses and workshops has been extremely positive. It is worth noting that improvements to the advertising, management and registration processes over the past 12 months has led to an overall increase in the level of attendee satisfaction.
Planning is currently in progress for the additional NZGS training courses which are expected to be held during the second half of 2018. Details are provided elsewhere in this issue. Enrolment details for these courses will be issued to our members via the fortnightly email notices and posted onto the NZGS website in due course.
In addition, travel arrangements are currently being finalised to bring the following internationally recognised speakers and presentations to the New Zealand circuit:

  • Rankine Lecture 2017: Professor Eduardo Alonso, “Triggering and Motion of Landslides”
  • Terzaghi Lecture 2017: Professor R Kerry Rowe, “Protecting the Environment with Geosynthetics”.
  • Terzaghi Lecture 2014: Professor Carlos Santamarina, “Energy Geotechnology: Enabling New Insights into Soil Behaviours”.

Further information is provided elsewhere in this issue. Members who are located outside the main centres who would like to see an international speaker in their home town should contact their branch co-ordinator and work with them to petition the national management committee. The committee will endeavour to add provincial towns to the circuit of any international speaker where it is demonstrated that an appropriate minimum level of interest and attendee numbers is present.
Marlene Villeneuve (University of Canterbury) and Kevin Anderson (AECOM, Auckland) continue their good work as the NZGS representatives and primary points of contact for the PEngGeol and CPEng registers and Body of Knowledge and Skills (BoKS) discussions with ENZ. Development and finalisation of the “Geotechnical” BoKS documentation is well advanced, and collaboration with ENZ is underway to ensure alignment and consistency with the other engineering disciplines such as structural and coastal. I strongly encourage all members to visit the NZGS website and familiarise themselves with the current versions of the BoKS documents. All questions and clarifications should be directed, in the first instance, to Teresa Roetman the NZGS Secretary (

Finally, I wish to remind you all of the following upcoming conferences:

  • The 13th Australia New Zealand Conference on Geomechanics, Perth; Western Australia, 01 to 03 April 2019,
  • The 21st New Zealand Geotechnical Society Symposium, Dunedin; New Zealand, provisionally scheduled for the third week of October 2020, and,
  • The 20th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, Darling Harbour; New South Wales, 12 to 16 September 2021.

Further details are provided within this issue of the Geomechanics News, on the Australian Geomechanics Society website ( and/or on the New Zealand Geotechnical Society website ( I strongly encourage all members to consider attending at least one of these noteworthy events.
Please do not hesitate to contact me via email on if you wish to discuss any issue which you believe is of direct relevance to our membership.


NZ Geomechanics News
Tony Fairclough
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 95 - June 2018
Report (not site specific)

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