NZ Geomechanics News

International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering Report

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.

Highlights from March Board Meeting

Continuing education and learning
Efforts are underway to expand the current webinar series (all of which are available through the ISSMGE website) to provide more “complete” coverage of soil mechanics and geotechnical engineering. The intention is for this resource to be available online and to be open access, sitting alongside the conference proceedings and other resources that are already accessible via the website. This initiative will commence with a survey of Member Societies, Technical Committees and individuals. In the meantime, the focus will be on filling perceived gaps in the areas of Geosynthetics, Soil characterisation, Education in geotechnical engineering, and Soil behaviour.

Corporate Associate/Technical Committee initiatives

The Corporate Associates Presidential Group recently completed a survey of a State of the Art/State of the Practice survey and is in the process of publicising the results. A summary paper has been published in Australian Geomechanics (Vol 53, No 1, March 2018) and (subject to agreement) in this or a forthcoming issue of the NZ Geomechanics News. The CAPG is focussed on creating a platform for discussion on issues that are relevant to the commercial sector, and intends to use the Regional Conferences in 2019 to stimulate debate in this area. A Plenary session has been set aside in next year’s ANZ conference for this. The topic for the plenary session is “Collaboration in Geotechnical Engineering”, and is expected to have panel contribution from representatives of various stakeholders, including academia, practitioners, suppliers/manufacturers, contractors, and asset owners. CAPG is also exploring having pre conference discussions in selected venues in ANZ to ensure there is a build-up in conversations leading to the ANZ conference. Please contact Kim Chan of GHD for further information ( about the plenary session, and, also for information on how to join the ISSMGE as a Corporate Associate and the benefits of Corporate Associate status.

Young Members Presidential Group initiatives

The YMPG is working towards enhancing the role of younger members. It sees the establishment of formal awards/keynote lectures at regional and international conferences as a way of achieving this. The current plan, which is in the very early stages of development, is to engage with the regional groups to identify potential candidates for these awards. It has been suggested that an upper age limit of 40 may be more appropriate than the current 35 year cap for young professionals, given the potential audience for the keynote lecture. There remain many details to be worked through, not the least of which is the prospect of fitting another “honour lecture” into what was already a full plenary session programme in Seoul.

The YMPG is also investigating open online course platforms, with these courses being aimed at a slightly higher level than the webinars.

Professional Image Committee

The new PIC, under the leadership of Prof Towhata, has finalised its goals for the current term, and these are available on the ISSMGE website. The focus will be on publicising the value of an appropriate level of geotechnical investigation. This will, I’m sure, strike a chord with most of us!

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). It has, in fact, been suggested that TC210 be disestablished because of the lack of activity and because its aims are duplicated by ICOLD. This suggestion has spurred action from some quarters. A new TC309, Machine Learning, is about to be established.

It is timely that representation on the TC’s is refreshed, and I have prepared a list of the current recorded members across Australia and NZ. The level of apparent participation in the current 33 TC’s from the AGS is impressive – two Chairs, one Vice Chair, three Secretaries and 44 nominated or corresponding members. The NZGS, on the other hand, is comparatively light, with only five nominated members.

Each of our Societies need to revitalise our involvement in the Technical Committees – firstly by confirming the ongoing and real interest of the current members, and secondly by opening up opportunities for new nominees and corresponding members. Graham Scholey and I are leading this, and have been impressed with the initial response from current members. There will shortly be an opportunity for new members to be nominated.

Selection of new Secretary General

Professor Neil Taylor’s current term as Secretary General finishes at the mid-term Council meeting in September 2019. Nominations being called for a new Secretary General, though I understand that Neil is prepared to stand again. The rules allow him to continue for a further four years. Neil and his support team have done a great job, and it is my view that there is little value to be gained by replacing him any sooner than necessary. Consequently, the NZGS and the AGS will be supporting Neil’s re-appointment as Secretary General.


Abstract submission for the next ANZ conference, to be held in Perth in early April 2019, will have closed 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.

Preparations for Sydney 2021 are underway, with the venue confirmed and PCO expected to be appointed by the time this goes to print.

Forthcoming Board meetings

The next Board meetings are scheduled for 6 June (face to face, Skopje, Macedonia).

For more information about the ISSMGE, please visit

Gavin Alexander
ISSMGE Vice President for Australasia

Graham Scholey
AGS Liaison with the ISSMGE VP
for Australasia


NZ Geomechanics News
Gavin Alexander
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 95 - June 2018
Society News

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