Issue 106 - December 2023

NZGS Management Committee Updates

Ioannis Antonopoulos 

Vice Chair

Ioannis is a Chartered Geotechnical Engineer, who specializes in large infrastructure and development projects. He has expertise in working with interdisciplinary teams who work on both design and construction. Ioannis volunteers for Engineering NZ as a Practice Area Assessor and contributes regularly to national and international conferences as a presenter and a reviewer. His key areas of interest and expertise include earthquake geotechnical engineering, soil-foundation-structure interaction, numerical analysis and modelling, retaining structures, geotechnical design of soft soils, and the characterization of geotechnical material properties. Ioannis stems his work experience from Greece where he worked in the design and construction of Athens Metro, the new Athens Conference Centre – Alexandra Trianti Hall one of the largest Opera Halls in Europe, several new highways, the Costa Navarino resorts, and commercial high-rise buildings. Ioannis has lived in New Zealand since 2012 working on large transport and water-related infrastructure, new highways, ports, dams, and levees.

Throughout my career, I have gained valuable insights from working in geotechnical contracting, consulting firms, and academia, providing me with diverse perspectives on various geotechnical engineering subjects. I have extensive experience in most areas of geotechnical engineering, with a particular focus on earthquake geotechnical engineering, numerical modelling, and soil-foundations-structure interactions. Over the years I was honoured to have collaborated with many of our members in New Zealand, as well as in different countries and various geotechnical industries, over the past three decades. I am eager to share my learnings and experiences with our members through the NZGS Management Committee. My goal is to foster inclusivity and collaboration, regardless of individuals’ career stages or their involvement in simple or complex projects.

I strongly believe that our primary focus should be on providing geotechnical services that contribute to the safe construction of infrastructure, while also nurturing the education of the next generation of geotechnical professionals.

I’m thrilled and honoured to represent our NZGS members as Vice Chair for the next two years, as I am genuinely passionate about giving back to our industry and actively shaping the future of geotechnical engineering in New Zealand. As my first assignment I’m taking over as the NZGS Awards Officer from the able hands of Rolando Orense.

Liam Wotherspoon  

Training & short courses

Liam is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Auckland. He has held an academic position in the department since 2009 and has been involved in the teaching of a wide variety of geotechnical engineering courses. His research also covers a range of geotechnical engineering areas and extends into structural and infrastructure engineering. He has worked with a number of professional organisations to translate the outputs of his research into practice and support the evolution of best practice.

Liam will be leading the organisation and management of short courses and seminars in 2024. There are currently four short courses under development for 2024 that will be provided by local and international speakers. Further information on these courses will be released in the new year. Seminars and webinars on geotechnical guidance will be organised in 2024 to disseminate the outcomes of various NZGS projects. Liam will also be a member of the NZGS events sub-committee that provides coordination across NZGS branch activities and course/seminar offerings from other technical societies.

Richard Justice 

Project Lead – Slope Stability Guidance

I’m a Principal Engineering Geologist with ENGEO based in Christchurch. I graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1995. I was initially employed with Pells Sullivan Meynink, based on Sydney. After six years, I moved to URS, also in Sydney before moving with a young family to Wellington to be with Tonkin + Taylor. In 2008 I made the move to KiwiRail, to experience life on the client side for a while. 

In 2012, I helped set up the Wellington office of Geoscience NZ (now ENGEO), before moving to Christchurch in 2014 and have been there since, apart from a four-and-a-half-year stint working on the North Canterbury Transport and Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) project. My work passion is engineering geological models – making sure that we don’t forget the geological part of our assessments.

The NZ Geotechnical Society have funding agreements with Toka Tú Ake EQC and MBIE for the development of Unit 1 of the proposed slope stability guidance series. This is an overview unit, with a similar intent to Module 1 of the Earthquake Engineering Series, and is intended to be a ‘guidance’ document, outlining what competent practice should consider and assess.  

At the time of writing (November), the draft version of Unit 1 is now very nearly complete, and it is hoped that, by the time you read this, it has been released to society members for comment. If not, release is imminent!

Emilia Stocks 

Treasurer (Previously Short Courses)

Emilia is a chartered geotechnical engineer with over 14 years of experience covering various geotechnical and civil projects in New Zealand, Hong Kong and the UK. She has experience in working on complex problems, especially in the analysis, evaluation and design of liquefaction mitigation options and complex foundations. She also oversees technical issues investigations and resolution as a Risk Specialist.

Emilia is transitioning from her previous role on the committee, which was organising the training and short courses, to her new role as Treasurer of NZGS. The report below provides an update on the previous six months of the training courses delivered by NZGS. Liam Wotherspoon is taking on the training coordination role within the committee.

In June, NZGS organized a comprehensive two-day short course on “In-Situ Seismic Investigation Methods for Site Classification” in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. These informative courses were delivered by Brady Cox, Ph.D., P.E. (Utah State University), Liam Wotherspoon, Ph.D. (University of Auckland), Andrew Stolte, Ph.D. (University of Auckland), and Joe Vantassel, Ph.D. (Virginia Tech).

In September, we extended our commitment to professional development by offering a one-day course on “GIS for Geotechnical Professionals” conducted by Colin Mazengarb from Tasmania. These courses catered to both intermediate and advanced levels and was conducted across five different locations during August and September, totalling 12 courses.

November witnessed a fantastic opportunity as we welcomed Professor George Gazetas from the National Technical University of Athens. Professor Gazetas shared his expertise through a course on “SSI and Performance-Based Design,” which was complemented by a captivating presentation on the seismological, geotechnical, and structural aspects of an earthquake in Turkey.

These courses are a testament to NZGS’s commitment to bringing globally renowned experts to our community.

The resounding success and positive feedback from our members underscore the quality and value of the training programs we have offered in the second half of 2023.

Additionally, we are pleased to announce that more GIS courses for intermediate and advanced users are already on the horizon for 2024, with the convenience of online delivery.

Jesse Beetham 

National branch coordinator 

Jesse Beetham is an Engineering Geologist (PEngGeol) with Tonkin & Taylor, based in the Tauranga office. He has been based in Tauranga for all of his career however, he has worked on projects all across the country. Jesse considers himself a true-blue Engineering Geologist with a strong background in the Earth Science field.

I am a recently elected NZGS Management Committee member who has been appointed as the National NZGS Branch coordinator. I am a professional engineering geologist with approximately 8 years experience working for Tonkin & Taylor in Tauranga. Prior to working for Tonkin & Taylor, I worked for a small engineering consultancy in Tauranga focused on residential development.

I became a member of NZGS during my post-graduate studies and have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the society. During the early years of my career, the activity of NZGS really inspired me to pursue a career in engineering geology. During the more recent years of my career, I have activity attended NZGS courses and presentations, and continually used guidelines published by the society. I joined the management committee to give back to the society and to continue the great work the society has done. 

I have recently been tasked with the national branch coordinator role. One of the main goals for me in this role is to help our regional branch coordinators create/maintain an active geotechnical community. I’m still finding my feet in the management committee, but feel free to contact me if you have any ideas for branch presentations, site visits or courses.

Martin Larisch

Chair of NZGS Climate Change Resilience & Adaption Group

Martin Larisch is a Geotechnical Engineer with more than 25 years of international design and construction experience. He is based in Waikanae (Kapiti Coast), where he works as an Independent Consultant and Expert Witness on various geotechnical, piling, ground improvement and retaining wall projects across New Zealand and the Asia Pacific Region. 

Since 2020, he has been a member of the expert panel to revise the NZGS/ SESOC Piling Specifications and he is also the current Chair of the NZGS Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation Group.

Martin is the Chair of the NZGS Climate Change Resilience and Adaptation Group. The working group has met once every month over the past six months. Initial discussions provided an initial framework of the aims and objectives of the group in the short- and the long-term.

The first aim is the strategic development of various guidance documents, which will address the following topics: 

• Sustainable decarbonation and resilience (what does it mean and how to address it?)

– Resilience effects on climate change and could this be implemented

– Resilience, adaptation and embodied carbon

• Geohazards
– How to use remote sensing technology to monitor the performance of geotechnical structures

• Material Re-use and circular economy

– How to turn construction waste into a building material?
– Incorporation of recycled concrete into gravel matts for residential buildings

The organisation of the 2nd NZGS Climate Change Symposium for 22nd February 2024 is the second key activity of the working group at the moment.

Tags : #NZGS committee

Issue 106 - December 2023, NZ Geomechanics News
Issue 106 - December 2023, NZ Geomechanics News
New Zealand
Society News

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