NZ Geomechanics News

Chair’s corner

The first few months of the year are relatively quiet for the society, which gives quite a relief from the normal hectic pace of things.  This year has been no exception, but during the period December to March we have the election of officers to add to activities, and having these occurring across the Christmas break, with the call for nominations in mid-December and nominations closing in late January, is a challenge.  It is a time of the year when members perhaps have little enthusiasm for society affairs and elections.  Below I refer to a proposal to change the timing of the AGM, and this would ease this election timing issue also.

2016-2017 Committee

This year Ken Read retired from the Committee after his two year term of office, and Eleni Gkeli, from Opus in Wellington, was elected to replace him.  Thank you Ken for your efforts for the society over the last couple of years, and welcome Eleni.  Eleni will take over the role of ‘distinguished speaker liaison officer’.

Geomechanics News Editorship

Ross Roberts ends his term as editor of the Geomechanics News with this edition.  It has become the usual practice to have two editors working concurrently on the bulletin, which enables a co-editor to be ‘in place’ before the retirement of the lead editor.  Marlene Villeneuve will now take over as lead editor, and Don Macfarlane has been volunteered into joining the editorial team.  Welcome Don, and thank you Ross for all your hard work in the editor’s role.  The regular rotation of editors of the bulletin means that the editorial role becomes available at least every two years and I would commend any member to consider taking on the role.

The Website

The retirement of Ross as editor of Geomechanics News has freed him up to take on another role, and he will now step into the role of website manager.  The society website has long been in a state of fluctuation, and re-establishing it onto a new platform has been on the cards for a few years now.  Over the last year or so Ross has formulated the elements of what the society needs in a website and we approved the commissioning of this new website in March.

Earthquake Engineering Guidelines

Members will be aware of the efforts being made over the last few years into producing the Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering Guideline series in conjunction with MBIE.  In my previous Chair’s corner, in December 2015, I mentioned that the Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering Guideline series was being rationalised, with a new numbering system and an introductory module being introduced.  Following the publication of the Ground Improvement Specification Module in October the second of the series, the overview module, was published in March; this knits together the various modules in the series and presents a few aspects common to all modules, in particular the estimation of ground motion parameters.  You should have received notification of the publication of another module in the new series by the time you read this.  This is the second edition of the liquefaction module, the old module 1, now module No 3.  Members will be pleased to see in this that efforts are now being made to address the tricky subject of liquefaction of volcanic soils, which is discussed in this module.  While few solutions can be provided on this topic at the present time it is now the subject of substantial research at New Zealand universities, and over the coming few years there is likely to be considerable publication in this topic.  Members can expect this topic to be expanded considerably in future editions of module 3 of the guidelines.

We are keen to keep these documents as ‘live’ and up to date as possible, and it is the intention to publish further revisions of each of the new series whenever warranted.  In order to facilitate this the modules are all being published for a six-month period of ‘public consultation’ with a request that NZGS members give feedback on them, after which a further review will be undertaken.  Please take this opportunity to influence the guidelines and send any comments to

One other notable geotechnical document has been published in the last few months, and a second is due to be published imminently.  Although not commissioned directly by the NZGS, these have been developed and reviewed by members, and are endorsed and badged by the society.  These are ‘Rockfall: design considerations for passive protection structures’, lead author Rori Green, and a Ground Investigation Specification, led by Ross Roberts.  Both of these are expected to be invaluable documents to the geotechnical profession in New Zealand, and we are grateful to all the authors and reviewers for their dedication in producing these.

Education and Training

NZGS are working with MBIE and others towards developing CPD training for geotechnical professionals.  This working group was instigated by the publication of the Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering Guidelines in order to provide training linked to each of the modules, but has since broadened to cover more aspects of geotechnical engineering.  As a result you can expect to have more geotechnical training offered in the future.

AGM Timing

I explained at the society AGM in March this year that the Committee was intending to move the AGM from March, when it has normally been held, to a time nearer to the end of the financial year.  This is to enable ratification of the annual budget (at the AGM) at a time closer to when it comes into effect and is needed for accounting purposes, which is October.  Under the existing regime the budget is ratified six months into the financial year, which prevents it being used for accounting purposes from October.  So the intention is that the next AGM will be held towards the end of 2017 instead of during March.  I’m sure you will all be sad not to have the chance to attend an AGM in March next year

NZ Geomechanics News
Charlie Price
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 91 - June 2016

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