NZ Geomechanics News

International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (Issmge) 

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. 

See the ISSMGE website – for full details of all ISSMGE activities.

1. Introduction

On behalf of the ISSMGE President and Board, I would like to congratulate the NZGS on the 100th edition of the NZ Geomechanics News. I have a copy of the first edition on my desk (dated November 1970)! It makes for entertaining reading and apparently was “A Newsletter of the N.Z. National Society for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering”. Our learned society has come a long way in 50 years and our Bulletin is now a high-quality publication which graces many desks and something most of us wait for eagerly every 6 months. Well done team.

Like most of us, I am looking forward to closing the door on the Year 2020. While the Covid-19 pandemic will be an ongoing ‘challenge’ next year I am confident that we are better prepared. The following is a summary of recent highlights of ISSMGE activities regionally and internationally.

2. 2021 TERZAGHI ORATION – News from the ISSMGE President Charles Ng

“I am very pleased to announce that Professor Antonio Gens from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Spain has been selected as the 2021 Terzaghi Orator. Professor Gens was selected from a pool of 16 outstanding nominations including 5 former Rankine Lecturers. After reviewing the abstracts of proposed case histories including photographs submitted by 6 finalists and consultation among some distinguished peers in our Society, I had the privilege to select Professor Gens to be our next Orator although the decision was extremely difficult since we had so many outstanding candidates. I am absolutely confident that Professor Gens will deliver an excellent lecture in Sydney in 2021. Please join me in congratulating Professor Gens.”

3. ICSMGE 2021 Sydney 2021 

Preparations for 20th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ICSMGE) in Sydney continue, with co-chairs, John Carter and Graham Scholey along with Scientific Program Chair, Mark Jaksa and their teams putting in many hours of hard voluntary work. The Technical Program Committee has announced their State-of-the-Art Lectures, each one led by experts in their field. Find out more on the ICSMGE 2021 Website (

I am also pleased to announce that our own Dr Brendon Bradley has been selected as one of the Bright Spark Lecturers. He will be giving a keynote lecture at the ICSMGE in Sydney. 

ICSMGE 2021 has accepted 1,230 abstracts for the Conference. Sponsorship and exhibition opportunities are also available and the ICSMGE 2021 will “provide an excellent opportunity to promote your company, to network with international experts, share your latest research and technologies, hear about the latest developments from opinion leaders in the field and build collaborations”. Mark your calendars for a trip to Sydney on 12 to 17 September 2021.

For the 7iYGEC, ISSMGE Member Societies are invited to nominate up to four of their young members to attend the Conference. The NZGS has received 12 applications for nomination.  The NZGS Management Committee has selected the top 4 abstracts to upload to the conference portal. Only the top 2 abstracts are guaranteed to be accepted to the conference, with up to 2 additional places offered if the conference quota is not filled. The NZGS is offering full funding for up to 4 applicants should they be invited to the 7iYGEC to be held just before the ICSMGE 2021 in Sydney.  

4. New YGP Roles

At the NZGS Management Committee meeting on 22 September 2020 in Christchurch, the committee unanimously agreed to the creation of three new YGP roles (outside the committee, reporting though the YGP representative and the international society VPs) including an ISSMGE YGP rep. The NZGS Management Committee is preparing a role description for the committee’s agreement, after which expressions of interest will be sought from all NZGS young members. 

5. Geotechnical Design Challenge

The CAPG’s “Are we over designing?” Survey is gaining momentum with various ISSMGE groups (YMPG, CAPG, Corporate Associates, Member Societies) hosting virtual design challenges around the world. The AGS is hosting an Australia and New Zealand Geotechnical Design Challenge as part of an international survey intended to assess the consistency of calculation models and design methods for a variety of geotechnical structures and, where possible, to compare the results with full-scale tests and reliability analyses. The survey includes ten common geotechnical design problems, such as shallow and deep foundations, slope stability and retaining walls, in clay and sand soils.

Harry Poulos gave a briefing regarding the design challenge on 14 October 2020. The briefing is now publicly available to watch here:

In addition to providing valuable insight into the practice of design across various countries in the world, the survey is also a great opportunity to benchmark your companies approach to design of relatively simple geotechnical problems. No details of the company are required nor would these details, even if provided, be released.

Full details of how to undertake and submit the survey can be found both on the ISSMGE website: and in Geoworld ( 

6. ISSMGE Online Library

The ISSMGE Online library ( is in continuous development. Hugo Acosta-Martinez, Past Chair of the Australian Geomechanics Society continues to drive the upload of ANZ Conference Proceedings in this open access database. This month, Hugo uploaded 127 papers from the 9th ANZ Conference on Geomechanics (Auckland, 2004), which means that the full collection of papers from that ANZ event series is available online.  

7. ISSMGE Time Capsule

As a part of our continuing developments of the ISSMGE, a new project, ISSMGE Virtual Time Capsule, has been launched. The coming decades, encompassing the centenary of the ISSMGE (2036), are predicted to bring unprecedented changes in all walks of life, through the underlying shift in world view and attitudes towards digital advances and sustainability considerations, accelerated by the necessary changes in practice and expectations that COVID 19 has brought – the new normal. Our opportunity is here and now to bring forward the creation of an entirely Virtual Time Capsule that brings together and provides a common heritage to all geotechnical engineers. 

The Virtual Time Capsule will initially be hosted on the ISSMGE web site, enabling interactive communications with the geotechnical community in the lead-up to the grand release, at the 20th ICSMGE in Sydney. We anticipate material will be progressively added on the ISSMGE website from early – mid 2021, to build up a ground swell of interest. For further information, or to offer your support, please contact Sukumar Pathmanandavel

8. ISSMGE Foundation

The ISSMGE Foundation was created to aid individual ISSMGE members throughout the world to enhance their geotechnical engineering knowledge and practice by providing financial support for participation in technical and professional activities approved by the ISSMGE Foundation. There is no prescriptive list of admissible events and all reasonable applications will be considered, considering the relevance to ISSMGE and active rather than passive participation by the applicant.

The next deadline for receipt of applications for awards from the ISSMGE Foundation is the 31st January 2021. For further information on the ISSMGE Foundation:

9. ISSMGE Board Meeting

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage most of the northern hemisphere, the next ISSMGE Board Meeting will be held online in March 2021. 

Tags : #ISSMGE

NZ Geomechanics News
philip Robins
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 100 - December 2020
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