NZ Geomechanics News

International Society for Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering (ISRM)

Major events since June 2019 were in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil with the 2019 ISRM Board and Council meetings between 12 and 15 September 2019, followed by the ISRM Congress a major four yearly event on the ISRM calendar. A new Board for the 2019 – 2023 period was elected and there is a separate report for the Congress.  

Items relating to the Board meeting include: 


The Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) – Doug Stead, chair, Stuart Read and Norikazu Shimizu, prepared a summary of the 2018-19 year activities as well as an overview for the 2015-2019 term. The performance of each of the 18 commissions, which are run on a voluntary basis, was evaluated individually, pointing out highlights or raising concerns at Board level, with recommendations as to their continuance in the 2019-2023 period. Several had been very active, with associated publications (e.g. blue and orange books for testing methods), some less so. One TOC feeling is that Commission outputs should continue to encourage best practice through guidelines rather than preparing standards. 

Commissions that wish to be active during the 2019 – 2023 term had been independently sent to the Secretary General for evaluation and appointment by the 2019 – 2023 Board and TOC.

Rocha medal (2020):

Twelve theses for the 2020 award, recognising the most meritorious PhD thesis in rock mechanics, were received (0 from Australia, 0 from New Zealand,). The Board award committee selected the following winner: 

Shang, Junlong (China) from University of Leeds with the thesis “Persistence and tensile strength of incipient rock discontinuities”.  The award consists of the Rocha medal, a diploma and a cash prize. The award lecture will be given during the Eurock 2020 ( between 13 and 19 June 2020 in Trondheim, Norway.

There was one runner up award for:

Fang, Yi (China) from Penn State University for the thesis “Induced  microearthquakes and seismicity-permeability relationships in fractures”.

Franklin Lecture (2020)

The ISRM Franklin Lecture recognises a mid-career ISRM member who has made a significant contribution to a specific area of rock mechanics and/or rock engineering. It honours the memory of Professor John Franklin, ISRM President from 1987 to 1991, and is given every year, at the International Symposium, except for those years when the 4-yearly Congress is held. 

The provenance of candidates has been the region in which the symposium is being held (Europe in 2020). This was adhered to for selection of the winner of 2020 award (Prof Frederick Johansson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden) with presentation at Eurock 2020 in Trondheim, Norway 13 – 19 June 2020.  The selection process may be modified to widen the selection area in future years

Performance Awards (National Group, Commission) 

There are two existing performance awards – Best Performing National Group, Outstanding Commission – each with up to two awardees on a two year cycle. The National Group award is in recognition of its outstanding performance and to reward a young and small National Group who is active and growing. On evaluation of the five prepared applications, awards were given to Korea and China. There were no nominations for Outstanding Commission and no awards were made.

Items from the Council meeting include:

Board election for 2019 – 2023 term

The following ISRM Vice Presidents for the 2019 – 2023 term were elected at the Council meeting, following presentations by individual candidates:

Africa: Michael du Plessis, SOUTH AFRICA
Asia: Suseno Kramadibrata, INDONESIA
Australasia:Sevda Dehkhoda, AUSTRALASIA
Europe: Leandro Alejano, SPAIN
North America: Laura Pyrak Nolte, USA
Latin America: José Pavon, PARAGUAY (Latin as Central and South America)

Apart from Asia (with candidates from three countries – Indonesia, Korea, Indonesia – and voting by Asian countries only) the geographic areas had single candidatures. 

The President for the term, Resat Ulusay, TURKEY had been elected at the 2017 Council meeting in Capetown.  Luis Lamas and Sofia Mes, PORTUGAL, will continue as Secretary General, and Executive Secretary respectively for the term. 

Three additional Vice Presidents At Large have been appointed on invitation from the new Board, namely Ömer Aidan (Japan), Yang Qiang (China), Vojkan Jovicic (Slovenia).

2021 International Symposium

There were two candidates for 2021 International Symposium, during which the Board and Council meetings will be held:

Turin, Italy in association with “Eurock 2021”

Asuncion, Paraguay in association with “Latin American Rock Mechanics Symposium”.

After presentations from the two candidates, Turin was voted as the successful candidate.

Procedural items (budget, awards, presentations)

Items requiring approval, such as 2018 accounts, winners of several awards (2020 Rocha medal (Shang, Junlong ), Franklin award (Frederik Johansson), Best Performing National Groups – Korea and China) were approved.. Presentations were given by the President, Vice Presidents, Committees (Commission, education Fund, Young Members), Secretary General, along with several upcoming conferences (e.g. Eurock 2020).

ISRM Membership:

ISRM individual membership worldwide is currently 8,432 representing 60 National Groups (countries). This is a rise of 3% rise over past year, with 549 in Australasia (7% of total with 357 Australia (4 corporate) and 192 New Zealand). Europe and Asia continue to have the greatest individual membership (>25%), with other regions including Africa and Australasia having ~6% each. 

Other items

ISRM Fellow – Bill Bamford

During the congress dinner, which doubles as an awards ceremony, six new fellows were inducted and certificates for best performing National Groups presented. Fellowship is the highest and most senior grade of membership of ISRM, being awarded for outstanding achievement and professional contribution through ISRM. 

Bill Bamford (University of Melbourne, Bamford Rock Testing Services), one of the 2019 Fellows to be inducted, was unable to attend the Congress. He has subsequently received his medal during an AGS Victorian chapter symposium in Melbourne on 30 October at which he coincidentally was an invited speaker. Bill joins two ISRM Fellows currently resident in Australasia – Ted Brown (2011) and Jian Zhao (2015 – nominated via Asia). 

Rocha medal (2021):

Nominations for the 2021 award are currently open and will close on 31 December 2019 (for evaluation in 2020). The award recognises the most meritorious PhD thesis in rock mechanics, with further details on the ISRM and AGS websites. Nominations should be sent directly to Secretary General (remembering a 10,000 word summary of the thesis needs to be prepared and ISRM membership demonstrated).

ISRM On-line lectures 

Two on-line lectures have been given over the last months:

  •  26th by Dr José Vieira de Lemos (Portugal) on “ Discrete element modelling of dam foundations ” presented on 26 June
  •  27th by Prof. Derek Elsworth (USA) on “Seismicity-Permeability Coupling in the Breaching and Sealing of Reservoirs and Caprocks” presented on 25 September.

The lectures are available on the ISRM website (ISRM online lectures – e.g. for Dr Lemos).  


The ISRM website ( has information on the society’s intent, structure and activities, including conferences, commissions, awards, products and publications. For those AGS 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 issues No 44, 45, 46 in March, June and September 2019 
  •  ISRM News Journal, now under the editorship of Dr José Muralha (Portugal)
    Last issue No 21 (Dec 2018) 

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 56 ISRM sponsored conferences and ISRM individual members are allowed to download, at no cost, up to 100 papers per year from the ISRM conferences. To use this facility ISRM members must register each year, with further details given on the ISRM website (

FedIGS (Federation of International Geo-Engineering Societies

The second meeting of the FedIGS board for the 2018 – 2022 term was held between the Board and Council meetings in Foz do Iguassu. The main function of the Board is the exchange of information on management of the four member geotechnical societies (ISSMGE, IAEG, ISRM, IGS) technical activities, current issues and future developments. There are also three FedIGS Technical Commissions for which reports were presented. 

This will be my final report as my term as Vice President finished at the Congress. Ongoing reporting will be handled between Sevda Dehkoda, 2019 – 2023 Vice President for Australasia, and Marlene Villeneuve, NZGS liaison for ISRM, who also attended the Foz do Iguassu Council meeting.

NZ Geomechanics News
Stuart Read
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 98 - December 2019
International Report, Society News

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