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

I am writing this report just following the announcement that the long awaited Tasman bubble is here. While the Covid-19 pandemic rages around the world, we can be justly proud of the lifestyle we have in New Zealand and Australia. Due to the pandemic, the ISSMGE Board Meeting was held via Zoom on 29 January 2021. The following is a summary of recent highlights of ISSMGE activities regionally and internationally.

2. Brief report from the President 

The ISSMGE President asked all present to join him in expressing their condolences on the passing of Gavin Alexander, former ISSMGE Vice-President for Australasia. I thanked everyone for the outpouring of condolences which were collated, printed and pasted into a book, which was presented to Gavin’s wife and two sons at a special ceremony.

The President confirmed that Antonio Gens would deliver the Terzaghi Oration at the 20ICSMGE and also noted that the pandemic had forced conference organisers to alter plans for their events. Some conferences were postponed, some changed to mixed-mode (partial attendance by generally local delegates and others participating via online broadcasts) and others forced to have a fully online virtual conference.

3. 20th ICSMGE Sydney 2022

The ISSMGE Board agreed that the 20ICSMGE should be rescheduled to 2 – 5 May 2022 with the Council Meeting taking place on 1 May 2022. It was hoped that a full in-person conference and Council Meeting would be possible. It was noted that there would be no further change to the timing of the 20ICSMGE and that the conference and Council Meeting would take place on those dates as either in-person, hybrid or virtual events depending on travel restrictions in place at the time. Find out more on the 20thICSMGE Website (

The President invited the Board and Board-Level Committee Chairs to continue in their present posts until the new Board elections are completed in May 2022. All agreed to continue. The duration of next Board will still be approximately 4 years starting from May 2022.

4. NZGS Symposium 2021

On behalf of the ISSMGE President and Board, I would like to congratulate the NZGS on a very successful Symposium in March. With over 250 live registrations, it was wonderful to see old friends and make new ones in Dunedin. Thank you for your attendance at the conference. A face to face conference is a rare event these days. 

Thank you to all those who attended the Symposium and prepared technical papers. The organising committee, led by Eleni Gkeli, did an excellent job organising a wonderful event. Thanks also to the Conferences & Events team lead by Kerry South and the NZGS sponsors and exhibitors who hung on for the “wild ride” during the various lockdowns and alert level changes.


Photograph courtesy of Ross Roberts.

5. ISSMGE Virtual University 

Mounir Bouassida gave an update on courses being assembled for the Virtual University, which now includes an almost complete Course 9 on “Landslides”. L M Zhang has added a lecture for Course 10: “Risk analysis and machine learning” and Mounir has invited Chairs of TC304 (Engineering Practice of Risk Assessment and Management) and TC309 (Machine Learning and Big Data) to prepare lectures. 

6. YMPG Proposal – Future of Geotechnics event

The YMPG proposes to create an event that would be engaging for young geotechnical engineers and would attempt to imagine what the world and the field of geotechnics would look like in 40 years’ time. Lucy Wu and her team are organising several events and these would conclude by September 2021. Outputs from the event would be edited and made suitable for the Time Capsule project.

7. ISSMGE Time Capsule

At the ISSMGE board meeting Sukumar provided an update on the project. The time capsule now has a section on the ISSMGE website and blogs are being added. For further information, or to offer your support, please contact


The NZGS has taken the unusual step of creating roles for YGPs to specifically be our liaison with each of the international societies. In the past our Young Geotechnical Professional rep did all of the internal NZ coordination, as well as linking with the international societies. The NZGS decided that more could be achieved with individuals specific to each society, and that it would also help increase the activity of young professionals to the NZGS and the international societies. I am pleased to welcome Nima Taghipouran as the NZGS ISSMGE liaison. You can find out more here:

9. Next Board Meeting

The next ISSMGE Board Meeting will be held online in May 2021.  

Philip Robins
ISSMGE Vice President
for Australasia

NZ Geomechanics News
philip Robins
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 101 - June 2021
International Report

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