NZ Geomechanics News

Conference Reports – NZGS-7ICEGE Reports

The New Zealand Geotechnical Society (NZGS) provided scholarships to young geotechnical professionals for them to participate in the 7th International Conference on Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering (7ICEGE) which took place in Rome, Italy last 17-20 June 2019. As part of the conditions of the scholarship, the 5 recipients submitted conference reports when they returned to New Zealand. Below are excerpts from their submitted reports.)

It was a great honour to be selected by the New Zealand Geotechnical Society to attend the 7ICEGE. In 2017-2018, I was working in the European research project: ‘LIQUEFACT – Assessment and mitigation of liquefaction potential across Europe: a holistic approach to protect structures / infrastructures for improved resilience to earthquake-induced liquefaction disasters’. The 7ICEGE conference was the first major opportunity to present the findings from our work, where there was a special session for the LIQUEFACT project, and over 15 papers outlining the project’s research findings. Given the wide international attendance of the conference, this was a great opportunity to get feedback from other researchers of liquefaction from around the globe before the project is completed in November 2019. 

I found the sessions on recent earthquakes very valuable as it highlighted the wide number of geotechnical related disasters that have occurred over the last four years, and how they have impacted communities. The data collected from these events has challenged our understanding of some geotechnical problems (e.g. the unprecedented flowslides during the 2018 Sulawesi earthquake), and is an invaluable resource for further research. The difficulties of obtaining high quality data after an event highlighted to me the importance of setting up permanent field monitoring stations at key sites to obtain recordings during events. 

Overall, the most important part of the conference for me was to re-connect with the international researchers that I am collaborating with and to share ideas with them that cannot easily be communicated by email or phone. In this respect, I hope that these collaborative efforts, and the sharing of ideas with the world, will lead to significant benefits to the New Zealand Geotechnical Society.
 – Maxim Millen 


It was a very enriching experience, where people from academe and industry coming from different parts of the globe met to share new insights and to discuss common practices related with earthquake geotechnical engineering. As in previous years, the conference was divided in subtopics addressed through parallel sessions in which the most recent developments in earthquake geotechnical engineering were presented and discussed, covering also the technical and scientific interaction within the fields of seismology, geophysics, geology, structural as well as infrastructural engineering. 

I had the opportunity to present part of my research in one of the parallel sessions on laboratory testing. My topic was the undrained response of laponite-treated specimens; this material is a nano-clay that when dispersed in water can modify it, transforming it into a gel with thixotropic properties, and the results of undrained cyclic simple shear and undrained monotonic simple shear tests were presented. This was an opportunity to showcase the research that is being done in the University of Auckland and in New Zealand. After the presentation, I received several questions regarding the behaviour of the laponite, and during the break I had some insightful discussions with the knowledgeable attendees. 

There is no doubt that this scholarship has provided me with a great opportunity not only to attend and present part of my research at this conference, but also to learn and connect with so many people working in earthquake geotechnical engineering related projects. I feel honoured and grateful to attend this conference as representative of the University of Auckland and the New Zealand Geotechnical Society.
– Gislaine Pardo


From receiving the conference program and looking through the speakers, one of the first things which stood out was the wide range of research being conducted around the world. Even under a specific area of research like earthquake geotechnical engineering, several topics showcased the range of case histories, testing methods and numerical tools being utilised. Parallel sessions provided a great opportunity to attend specific focus areas, and I was fortunate enough to attend sessions on recent case histories, field and laboratory testing, site effects, issues on liquefaction, seismic slope stability, and seismic design of foundations and earth structures. These sessions gave insights into the projects and work being conducted around the world and led to interesting discussions with many other PhD students and young researchers on the future direction of these projects. It was a great opportunity to learn more in areas of research with less emphasis in New Zealand. 

I was fortunate enough to be able to present my paper via an oral presentation on ‘Site Characterization for Liquefaction Assessment of Gravelly Reclamations at CentrePort, Wellington’. This paper characterised the soils and site at the port of Wellington and presented results from liquefaction analysis in comparison to the ejecta manifestations observed after the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. This presentation led to interesting discussions with professors, who then gave insights and feedback on my current outputs. The guidance and comments were very helpful in identifying key issues and areas of focus for future research. Fruitful discussion and collaboration with other research teams around the world have also stemmed since this conference, for which I am very grateful. 

Overall, 7ICEGE was a well-organised conference with many highlights. It allowed for participants from around the world to share their research and foster collaboration. Holding the conference in the ‘Eternal City’ of Roma was very appropriate. With many attractive and emblematic locations around the city, and impressive cultural heritage, it really felt like we were part of an important occasion. Not to mention, Italian food was also great.
– Ribu Dhakal


Attending the 7ICEGE in Rome provided me with an opportunity to discuss with professors from other international universities. Also, listening to many other interesting presentations was very helpful in developing my understanding in geotechnical earthquake engineering. My presentation at the conference was attended by a number of people that included many senior professors. I received positive feedback on my presentation and my paper from the audience; in particular, comments and suggestions from Professor Kenji Ishihara was very insightful. Also, after the presentations, I had the opportunity of having a short meeting with other experts discussing over my research findings, and received important suggestions regarding preparing guidelines for dealing with the challenging pumiceous sands. 

Among other presentations, I found a presentation from Professor Koseki (University of Tokyo) very interesting and relevant to my PhD study. His research focuses on the liquefaction susceptibility of sands during consecutive earthquakes; similar to the sequence of earthquakes that happened in Christchurch in 2010-2011. Another interesting presentation was from Professor Cubrinovski (University of Canterbury), who illustrated key aspects of liquefaction assessment of soils other than uniform clean sands. The findings and suggestions from the presentations will be considered while dealing with the crushable pumiceous sands.

Overall, attending the 7ICEGE conference was an excellent experience that will be very beneficial for the rest of my PhD study. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the New Zealand Geotechnical Society for their scholarship, which enabled me to attend such an important geotechnical earthquake engineering conference.
– Baqer Asadi


The Conference was a great way to network with others in my profession. During 7ICEGE, I was able to discuss the CentrePort resilience project (WSP Opus). This allowed me to update myself and other team members (at the University of Canterbury) on the status of the project, and to glean new ideas from discussions with those outside of the project team. I was also able to strengthen existing relationships with those I have met before, as well as meet new people working on similar projects. 

My paper was accepted for a poster presentation which I presented on the final day of the conference. I found the poster session one of the most valuable aspects of the conference. During the session, I had a number of valuable discussions with people I knew, and with people from around the world whom I had never met before. I also discussed the project with senior academics. As a result, I have new ideas about how to approach the CentrePort project. These discussions also inspired me on where to direct the scope of my PhD. I made some new contacts from the poster session. 

As a side note, I think poster presentations can sometimes be viewed as a secondary form of presentation. However, in my recent experience, the opportunity for discussion provided by this form of presentation is invaluable. I would recommend anyone presenting at a conference to partake in a poster session at least once given the opportunity.
– Aimee Rhodes



NZ Geomechanics News
Aimee Rhodes, Baqer Asadi, Gislaine Pardo, Maxim Millen, Ribu Dhakal
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 98 - December 2019

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