NZ Geomechanics News

International Reports

International Association for Engineering Geology and the Environment

Outcomes of IAEG Executive & Council meetings 2018

The Executive Committee meetings were held on 14 and 15 September 2018 and the annual Council Meeting on 16 September in conjunction with the 13th IAEG Congress in San Francisco. Key points to note for the Committee and Council meetings are summarised below.

Membership As of 24 August 2018, membership details reported to the Secretary-General for 2018 from 41 of the 61 National Groups totalled 4105 members with China (591), Germany (509), New Zealand (422) and Australia (296) the largest of the national groups. New Zealand has been consistently the third largest National Group for at least the last four years with Australasia the third largest VP region with about 18% of the global membership. Not a bad effort considering we only comprise two National Groups.

Financials – The IAEG continues to operate on sound footing with essentially a neutral budget for 2017, 2018 and 2019. The shift to digital publication of the bulletin reduces the cost of publication and this is reflected in reduced fees to members with the bulletin. As a reminder for members of IAEG, through NZGS the 2019 membership will be €32 with bulletin and €20 without.

Strategic plan – Further work has been developed on the vision and mission statements together with the long term objectives for development of a programme of work to incorporate the specific objectives associated with the technical commissions, management committees and other activities of the Association. These are to be addressed by the new Executive.

New National Groups – Both Croatia and Iceland have reactivated their National Groups in 2018 which were accepted by Council in San Francisco. Bhutan and Myanmar are exploring the formation of new National Groups and support is being provided to Iran.

Awards – the following awards were voted by the Executive in Paris for announcement at the Congress in San Francisco:

  • Hans Cloos Medal – Prof Runqiu Huang from China
  • Marcel Arnould Medal – Louis Primel from France
  • Honorary Membership – Cristian Marunteanu from Romania

Honorary President – Prof Ricardo Oliveira from Portugal was nominated by Scott Burns (as current President) as Honorary President. This was voted and passed by Council in San Francisco. Ricardo is only the second person in the 54 year history of the Association to be made Honorary President, along with Prof Marcel Arnould. This appointment is reserved for people of distinction in recognition of extraordinary and long term merit resulting in prosperity and development of the Association. This honour is restricted to very rare and outstanding cases.

Richard Wolters Prize – four candidates competed for the Richard Wolters Prize in San Francisco. This award specifically recognises meritorious scientific achievement by a younger member of the engineering geology profession. It is awarded based on the candidate’s CV, best three published papers and a talk given at the Congress. The winner of the award for 2018 is Wei-An Chao from Chinese Taipei as voted by a judging panel chaired by Prof Ricardo Oliveira. Sarah Bastin, from Canterbury University New Zealand, second.

Election of Officers for 2019-2022 –

The following people were voted in at the Council meeting in San Francisco:
President: Rafig Azzam (Germany)
Secretary-General: Faquan Wu (China)
Treasurer: Jean-Alain Fleurisson (France)
Vice-President for Africa: Tamunoene Kingdom Simeon Abam (Nigeria)
Vice-President for Asia (2 positions): Tand Huiming (China) and Bo-An Jang (Korea)
Vice-President for Australasia: Doug Johnson (New Zealand)
Vice-President for Europe (2 positions): Eugene Voznesensky (Russia) and Vassilis Marinos (Greece)
Vice-President for South America: Norberto Jorge Bejerman (Argentina)
Vice-President for North America: Jean Hutchinson (Canada).

Prior to the election Council voted for the addition of a second Vice-President for Asia in recognition of the substantial growth of the National Groups in this region over the last 5-10 years. Hence both Europe and Asia are now represented by two VP’s in the Executive. Comments on the Presidential election are made separately below.

Staggered VP terms – the current Executive had agreed on the need to have staggered terms for the VP’s so that a majority of the Executive is not ‘turned over’ every four years at the same time. However, this change was too late to be implemented for the election in San Francisco and
will be taken up by the new Executive in 2019.

Digitisation of IAEG proceedings and publications – Martin Culshaw (current Editor-in-Chief of the Bulletin) is investigating the cost and process of converting all paper copies of historic IAEG publications and making these available to members via the website. Some of this will be digitised in the UK and some in India. This project is ongoing.

Bylaws and Statutes – a sub-committee of the Executive has been investigating updates and changes to the Bylaws and Statutes. The recommendations will be taken up by the new Executive in 2019.

Bulletin of Engineering Geology – Martin Culshaw steps down as Editor-in-Chief of the Bulletin at the end of 2018 after 6 years in the role. Louis Wong from Hong Kong has already started as a new Editor-in-Chief as from the start of 2018 and Resat Ulusay from Turkey will step in as the second Editor-in-Chief from January 2019. Bulletin has an editorial board of 78 members. Currently CY Chin and Ann Williams are the only board members listed as coming from New Zealand. Please note from 2019 the Bulletin will be online only. In 2019 it will comprise 8 parts rather than the usual 4 to clear a backlog of papers that has accumulated.

Next Congress – Council ratified the Executive recommendation that the next Congress due in 2022 will be held in Chengdu, China.

13th IAEG Congress 2018

See separate report from Pedro.

Vice-President for Australasia and Australian IAEG Liaison

Doug Johnson of T+T is the new IAEG Vice-President for Australasia, replacing Mark Eggers whom we thank for his outstanding contribution. The AGS will nominate a Liaison to work beside Doug for the term 2019 to 2022. This appointment will be made at the AGS National Committee meeting to be held in Adelaide on 2 November 2018. Hence the successful candidate will be known by the time of the NZGS management committee meeting on 4 December 2018.

Doug Johnson
NZ IAEG Representative


International Society for Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

This report mainly covers ISRM-related information from the Board and Council meetings held in Singapore on 28 – 30 October 2018 in association with ARMS10 – the ISRM 10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium ( – 31 October – 03 November). 52 of the 61 ISRM National Groups were present or represented at the Council meeting. Outcomes, in particular those requiring a vote at the Council meeting, were:

8th Muller Award

Three nominations for the 8th Muller award, a recognition of distinguished contributions to the profession of rock mechanics and rock engineering and the most prestigious ISRM award, were received:

Erion Bukaci nominated by AGS, Albanian Geotechnical Society
Peter Kaiser nominated by CARMA, Canadian Rock Mechanics Association
Dick Stacey nominated by SANIRE, South African National Institute of Rock Engineering.

The Council vote resulted in Peter Kaiser receiving the award. The award lecture will be presented during the 15th ISRM Congress in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil in September 2019.

15th ISRM International Congress

Proposals to hold the 15th ISRM International Congress on Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering in 2023 were received from:
Seoul, Korea
Salzburg, Austria
After formal presentations, including videos, to the Council meeting Salzburg was elected as the venue.

Revision of Statutes and By-Laws

Updates to the statutes and four by-laws (1, 2, 4 and 5) proposed by the Board, with an alternative update to By-law 2 proposed by the Australian National Group, were considered at the Council meeting. The Statutes, with a minor update to one of the clauses, and By-laws 1, 4 and 5 were approved during the meeting.
The update on By-Law 2, which resulted from the nomination process for the election of the 2019 – 2023 President at the 2018 meeting, required a vote on the two proposals with the Board update being approved. The issue related to the timing of nomination support and by whom with respect to announcement of all nominations by the Secretariat.

Rocha medal (2019 & 2020)

Twenty one theses for the 2019 award, recognising the most meritorious PhD thesis in rock mechanics, were received (0 from New Zealand, one from Australia). The award committee selected the following winner, announced during the Council meeting:
Lei Qinghua (China) with the thesis “Characterisation and modelling of natural fracture networks: geometry, geomechanics and fluid flow” (Imperial College, UK).

The award consists of the Rocha medal, a diploma and a cash prize. The award lecture will be given during the 14th ISRM Congress in Brazil. There was one runner up award for:

Wu Bangbiao (China) with the thesis “Dynamic tensile failure of rocks subjected to simulated in situ stresses” (Univ. of Toronto, Canada).
Nominations for the 2020 award are open and need to be with the ISRM Secretary General by 31 December 2018 (for evaluation in 2019). Further details are on the ISRM website, noting that a 10,000 word summary of the thesis needs to be prepared and ISRM membership demonstrated.


There are 17 ISRM Commissions in the 2015 – 2019 term (not listed here but included in previous reports). Commission purposes and anticipated products, along with membership, are included on the ISRM website (links on

Commissions run on a voluntary basis and several are very active, with associated publications (e.g. blue and orange books for testing methods), some less so, with one having stopped in the last months with another currently suspending activities. The Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) – Doug Stead, chair, Stuart Read and Norikazu Shimizu reported to the Board and Council meetings giving an overview on activities over the last year concluding that most are performing creditably. The report will be included in the next ISRM News Journal (due out early 2019).


Two financial items were approved at the Council meeting:
2017 year: Profit of Euro (€)15,000 from income of Euro127,000 and expenditure Euro112,000. Pattern similar to 2016 year (income mainly from subscriptions, ISRM sponsored conference fees, with growth in the use of OnePetro, the digital online library, expenditure mainly €55,000 for Secretariat, €20,000 newsletters with an additional item of contribution to the Education Fund Euro €7,000).
2019 budget: Similar to normal operation with Euro134,000 income (€90,000 from fees) and Euro119,000 expenditure including Education Fund (€10,000).


The ISRM currently has an all-time record of 8215 individual members, belonging to 61 National Groups. This represents an increase of 5% in the number of individual members over the last year, mainly from China and Russia. Europe and Asia have the greatest individual membership (>35%), with Asia growing steadily. The other regions including Australasia having ~6%. – currently 325 in Australia and 175 from New Zealand. There are 155 Corporate memberships, with
four from Australia and none from New Zealand.

Young Professionals:

Fostering of younger members (under 35) is a recognised need, and being more actively promoted by some national groups, as is the case in New Zealand and Australia (e.g. YGP conference in Hobart), than others. It is also receiving increasing attention, including for students, in association with mainstream conferences, in particular at regional ISRM regional conferences and congresses (e.g. ARMS10 in 2018 in Singapore there was a student night, Rockbowl quiz and informal social quizzes).

Another recent initiative has been the Early Career Forum at regional ISRM conferences. Funded in part by the Education Fund, partly from the ISRM budget it gives six to ten young professionals from the regional opportunity to present papers in a mainstream session. The first occurrence was at AfriRock in Capetown in October 2017, followed by Eurock in St Petersburg in May 2018 and most recently at ARMS10 in Singapore. It is programmed at the Congress in Foz do Iguacu.

New Guidelines for Awards and Conference Proceedings

The Board approved the guidelines for two new awards: the “Best Paper Award” at ISRM International and Regional Symposia and the “ISRM Technical Excellence Award” to be given every two years. Guidelines for “ISRM Science and Technology Awards” are being finalised and will
be approved soon.

The Board also approved “Guidelines for the Proceedings of ISRM Sponsored Conferences”. This is partly regarding paper formatting requirements for papers on the OnePetro database, and partly for indexing by Scopus and other refereed paper databases.

14th ISRM International Congress on Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

The 14th ISRM Congress will take place 13-18 September 2019. Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay will be the host countries for the event, to be held in Foz do Iguassu, a city that marks the common border amongst these countries.

The call for abstracts, which closed in early November, has resulted in submission of over 700 abstracts (four from New Zealand, thirty from Australia). Paper allocation depends on a formula depending on factors such as past Congress papers, membership (NZ 1%, Australia 3.5% of papers). Abstracts are about to be evaluated through National Groups (myself for New Zealand, Sevda coordinating for Australia) with papers based on accepted abstracts due for review
in early 2019.

Keynote speakers, which are based on geographic area representation, have been invited (Dr John Read on the geotechnical engineer in open pit slopes is the selection made by the Congress on behalf of Australasia – Chris Massey presented at the 2015 Congress). Further information on the Congress, which will also include a strong focus on student and young professional activities is available at

ISRM 2019 – 2023 Term

My term as Australian Vice President will finish at the Foz do Iguacu Congress, and notice has been given by the Secretariat (14th Sep) that Vice Presidents for the 2019 – 2023 term will be elected at the Council meeting associated with the 2019 Congress. Nominations are due with the Secretariat by 15th March 2019 accompanied by National Group nomination, one page CV and 5 minute video.
Under the understanding between AGS and NZGS the Australasian Vice-President for the term will be selected by Australia, and New Zealand would support the Australian nominee.

ISRM On-line lectures

One on-line lecture has been given over the last months:

23rd by Prof Maurice Dusseault (Canada) on 18th September on “Subsurface Geomechanics – challenges in naturally fractured rock masses”.

The lectures are available on the ISRM website (ISRM online lectures – e.g. for Prof Stille).
The next lecturer is Dr Claudio Olallo (Spain).


The ISRM website ( has information on the society’s intent, structure and activities, including conferences, commissions, awards, products and publications. For those NZGS members affiliated to ISRM as individual members there is a member area with access to further products. There is also Linked in, Twitter or RSS access.

Regular means of communication (under ISRM information on the website) are:

  • ISRM Newsletter, which has been published quarterly since March 2008. Last issue No 43 in September 2018
  • ISRM News Journal, now under the editorship of Dr José Muralha (Portugal) Last issue No 20 in Dec 2017

The ISRM Digital Library, which was launched in October 2010. (, is intended to make rock mechanics material available to the rock mechanics community, in particular papers published from ISRM Congresses and sponsored Symposia. It is part of OnePetro (, a large online library managed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. It includes proceedings from 54 ISRM sponsored conferences and ISRM individual members are allowed to download, at no cost, up to 100 papers per year from the ISRM conferences.

FedIGS (Federation of International Geo-Engineering Societies

FedIGS is a grouping under which the three international societies that NZ Geotechnical Society affiliates to operates. Prof Xia-Ting Feng (China), president of ISRM 2011- 2015 was elected Chairman of FedIGS for the 2018 – 2022 term. The first meeting of the board was held during the IAEG Congress in San Francisco between 17 and 22 September 2018.

Three Technical Commissions operate under the FedIGS umbrella –

  • JCT1 (Natural slopes and landslides) co-ordinated under IAEG
  • JCT2 (representation of geo-engineering data) co-ordinated under ISRM
  • JTC3 (Education and training) co-ordinated under ISSMGE

The JCT2 committee is in a changeover period, with election of a new chair and members. Dr Ian Brown, as a New Zealand representative, has joined the committee. The 3rd International on Information Technology in GeoEngineering on 29 Sep – 02 Oct 2019 in Guimaraes, Portugal is a JCT2 activity (like long runout landslides conference in Hong Kong in December as JCT1 activity).

Stuart Read


International Society for Soil Mechanics And Geotechnical Engineering (Issmge) Regional Report For Australasia


The ISSMGE is the pre-eminent professional body representing the interests and activities of Engineers, Academics and Contractors all over the world that actively participate in geotechnical engineering.

1. First year of progressfor the Board

It’s been just over a year since the current President and Board were elected, and significant progress has been made towards implementing the President’s plan for his four year term. I encourage you to read Professor Ng’s summary of progress on the ISSMGE website.

2. Technical Committees

The state of the current technical committees covers a wide range, from very active (like TC203, Earthquake) to essentially defunct (like TC210, Dams). A new TC309, Machine Learning, is being established.

Following a proposal from the Chinese geotechnical society, it was decided at the Skopje board meeting to reactivate TC210 Dams and Embankments. This committee will be renamed Embankment Dams, and will be chaired by Professor Limin Zhang. A new TC on tailings dams is proposed, with the lead on that being taken by the Vice President for South America, Alejo Sfriso.

A review of the activity and effectiveness of the TCs is due, and will be reported at the next Council meeting (September 2019). It is timely that representation on the TC’s is refreshed. To this end, progress is being made by each of our Societies to revitalise our involvement in the Technical Committees by opening up opportunities for new nominees and corresponding members. Graham Scholey and I are leading this, and ISSMGE members will have recently seen a call for new TC members. We appreciate the interest that has been shown in this valuable opportunity. NZGS nominations have been finalised, and I expect the AGS to follow in due course.

The NZGS nominations are as follows:

  • TC101 Laboratory Testing – Gabriele Chiaro, University of Canterbury
  • TC103 Numerical Methods – Ioannis Antonopolous, Coffey,
  • Dr CY Chin, Beca
  • TC104 Physical Modelling – Phil Robins, Beca
  • TC105 Geo-mechanics – Associate Professor Rolando Orense, University of Auckland
  • TC203 Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering – Professor Misko Cubrinovski, University of Canterbury, Dr Sjoerd Van Ballegooy, Tonkin and Taylor. Ioannis Antonopolous, Coffey, Associate Professor Rolando Orense and Professor Michael Pender, University of Auckland, join this committee as Corresponding Members
  • TC207 Soil Structure Interaction – Ioannis Antonopolous, Coffey
  • TC208 Slope Stability – Ross Roberts, Auckland City
  • TC210 Embankment Dams –
  • Dr James Burr, Beca
  • TC211 Nidhal Al-Alusi, Mott Macdonald (Corresponding Member)
  • TC211 Ground Improvement – Phil Clayton, Beca, Dr Martin Larisch, Miyamoto International
  • TC212 Deep Foundations – Dr Martin Larisch, Miyamoto International
  • TC213 Scour and Erosion – Professor Bruce Melville, University of Auckland
  • TC217 Land Reclamation – Tony Fairclough, Tonkin and Taylor
  • TC309 Machine Learning – Vick Kumaran, Hiway Geotechnical

It is pleasing to have increased TC representation from the NZGS from five to nineteen Nominated or Corresponding Members.

I would like to thank those of you who have represented us on these committees in the past and who are now stepping down. I would also like to thank our new nominees for your enthusiasm, and hope that you will get great value from your involvement in these specialist committees. Please do remember to provide updates and feedback to your home society, so we can all share in and benefit from the work that the TCs undertake.

3. Conferences

Paper reviews for the next ANZ conference, to be held in Perth in early April 2019, will be complete by the time you read this. This is the first of the next round of ISSMGE Regional Conferences, which are traditionally held between the four yearly international conferences. I look forward to meeting many of you in Perth.

Preparations for Sydney 2021 are underway, with the venue confirmed and PCO appointed. The Local Organising Committee, led by John Carter, with Graham Scholey’s support, has been formed and has had useful discussions with members of the ISSMGE Board to start shaping this as a most memorable event. GeoEng2000 is recognised as the Gold Standard, and John and his team are seeking to create an event that is at least as successful. I encourage you to support them, and this world class event in whatever way you can.

4. Forthcoming Board meetings

The next Board meetings are scheduled for 18 November (face to face, Mexico City) and 10 March 2019 (face to face, Singapore).

For more information about the ISSMGE, please visit

Finally, we’d like to wish you and your families all the best for Christmas and the holiday season. We hope you manage to take a well-earned and enjoyable break.

Gavin Alexander
ISSMGE Vice President for Australasia

Graham Scholey
AGS Liaison with the ISSMGE VP for Australasia


NZ Geomechanics News
Doug Johnson, Gavin Alexander, Graham Scholey, Mark Eggers, Stuart Read
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 96 - December 2018
International Report, Society News

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