NZ Geomechanics News

International Society for Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

The period since December 2018 has been relatively quiet ahead of preparations for the next ISRM Board and Council meetings in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil on 12-13 and 15 September 2019 respectively, immediately before the four yearly ISRM Congress, a major event on the ISRM calendar.

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 at the common border between these countries. Foz do Iguassu is famous for the Iguassu Falls on the Brazil-Argentina border.

The call for abstracts resulted in submission of over 700 abstracts (thirty from Australia, four from New Zealand). Paper allocation depends on a formula depending on factors such as past Congress papers, membership (Australia 3.5%, NZ 1% of papers). Draft papers (two from New Zealand) have been reviewed with submission to publishers in late June.

Further information on the Congress is available at Aside from technical and poster sessions, there are industry-aligned technical sessions, and invited lectures, one of which will be on behalf of another International Society.

Keynote speakers, who are based on geographic area representation, have been confirmed (Dr John Read on “The geotechnical engineer in metalliferous open pit mines” is the selection made by the Congress on behalf of Australasia). The 8th Muller award, a recognition of distinguished contributions to the profession of rock mechanics and rock engineering, will be presented by Prof Peter Kaiser.

There is also a strong young professionals programme, including more social activities such as the Rockbowl quiz and student night. The 2019 Rocha medal winner will present his thesis, with other sessions for an Early Career Forum and young researchers “brightspark” presentations.

A post-congress fieldtrip will visit the nearby 12,600 MW hydroelectric dam and powerstation on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.


ISRM individual membership worldwide has risen (from 7,800) to 8,200, collected from with 61 National Groups (countries). Europe and Asia have the greatest individual membership (>25%), with other regions including Africa and Australasia having ~5% each – currently 325 in Australia and 192 (up 20 in last 6 months) from New Zealand). There are 155 Corporate memberships, with four from Australia and none from New Zealand.

Rocha medal (2020):

Twelve theses for the 2020 award, recognising the most meritorious PhD thesis in rock mechanics, were received by 31 December 2018 (0 from Australia, 0 from New Zealand). The Rocha Award Committee (basically the Board) will evaluate the theses with the winner to be announced at the ISRM Council meeting in Foz do Iguassu.

ISRM On-line lectures

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

  • 24th by Prof. Claudio Olalla (Spain) on13 December 2018 with the title “Computing Foundations with Hoek and Brown Failure”.
  • 25th by Prof Derek Martin (Canada) on 21 March with the title “Stress-induced fracturing (spalling) around underground excavations: Laboratory and In-situ Observations”.

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


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 issue No 45 in March 2019
  • ISRM News Journal, now under the editorship of Dr José Muralha (Portugal)
    Issue No 21 summarising 2018 is online

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, and includes proceedings from 54 ISRM sponsored conferences. 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 (


There are 17 ISRM Commissions in the 2015 – 2019 term (not listed here, but included in a previous report and regularly in Geomechanics Journal). Commission purposes and anticipated products, along with membership, are added to the ISRM website by the Commissions (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 (Subsea tunnels) and another currently suspending activities. The summary of 2018 activities prepared by the Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) – Doug Stead, chair, Stuart Read and Norikazu Shimizu is included in the 2018 ISRM News Journal. Commissions run on four year terms and applications for continuance will be considered at the start of the 2019 – 2023 term of the Board.

ISRM Fellows

The highest and most senior grade of membership of ISRM is Fellow, being awarded for outstanding achievement and professional contribution through ISRM. The first Fellows were selected in 2010/2011, and to date thirty have been inducted. The majority (2/3) are from Europe and Asia with the balance shared between the other four regions.

Two Fellows currently reside in Australasia are Ted Brown (2011) and Jian Zhao (2015), with Bill Bamford scheduled to be inducted in September during the Congress.

Vale Prof John Hudson (1940 – 2019)

Prof John Hudson, Past President and friend, passed away on 13 February 2019, in London. John was one of the most active members ever of ISRM – Chairman of the Commission on Testing Methods for 19 years (vice the blue book), Vice President, President and Fellow. He was an influential teacher of rock mechanics and author and editor of several of the most relevant books on the discipline. An Obituary is published elsewhere in this issue.

ISRM 2019 – 2023 Term

My term as Australian Vice President will finish at the Foz do Iguassu Congress in September, and Regional Vice Presidents for the 2019 – 2023 term will be elected at the Council meeting on 15 September.

Under the understanding between AGS and NZGS (two terms Australia, one term New Zealand), Ms Sevda Dehkoda from University of Queensland has been selected and endorsed by AGS and NZGS as Australasian Vice-President for the 2019 – 2023 term.

This will be my final report as Vice President, and I would like to thank NZGS for the support provided over the four year period of my term.

Stuart Read



NZ Geomechanics News
Stuart Read
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 97 – June 2019
International Report

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