NZ Geomechanics News


Gillies Seve

It is with much sadness we advise that Dr Gilles Seve passed away after a short illness in March of this year.

Prior to coming to NZ in 2011 Gilles had over 20 years’ experience in a wide range of geotechnical engineering projects in South America, Canada, Africa, New Caledonia and many parts of Europe, including his homeland of France.

His international experience encompassed a variety of interesting design projects including large diameter storage tanks, seismic resilience and designing foundations for poor ground. He had carried out geotechnical investigation and field laboratory for preliminary and detailed design of motorways earthworks and his expertise included modelling slope stability and rock fall risk management in seismic areas. Gilles also taught soil mechanics and foundation engineering for over 10 years in the French universities of Paris and Nice, and in the Engineering School in Lyon, France.

Once Gilles arrived in NZ he worked with SCIRT on the Canterbury infrastructure rebuild and then with Christchurch City Council in their consenting team.

Following this, Gilles relocated to Wellington with his wife, and worked for MBIE. This work period included compiling and editing a number of the Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering Guideline Modules in collaboration with the New Zealand Geotechnical Society. He then spent some time working in the consulting industry in New Zealand. Gilles was always ready to teach anyone geotechnical principles and had a knack of reducing complexity to the simple in a sketch.

Gilles enjoyed travel and sailing in particular. He was also an avid gardener and was growing tomatoes through the roof vent on his greenhouse!

Gilles brought a Latin flair and passion to all his work and had a devlish sense of humour. He never let a chance go by to note that he was born and bred in Nice, France and that this was the home of French Rugby. Gilles is survived by his wife Violaine and one daughter, also a practicing engineer.

Prepared by:
John Scott and William Whewell


John A. Hudson, 1940–2019


John A. Hudson, BSc, PhD, DSc, FREng, Past President of ISRM, passed away on Wednesday 14 February 2019, in London, from complications resulting from a severe stroke.

John Hudson obtained his BSc degree in Mining Engineering from the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1965 and his PhD in rock mechanics as applied to both civil and mining engineering from the University of Minnesota, USA, in 1970. After a further two-year period of post-doctoral study at the University of Minnesota, he worked in the Tunnels Division at the Transport and Road Research Laboratory, UK, from 1972-1977, then from 1977-1979 at the Department of Strategic Research Operations in the Department of the Environment, UK. From 1979-1980 he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin, USA, and from 1980-1983 at the Building Research Station, UK. During this latter period, he was awarded the DSc degree by the Heriot-Watt University.

From 1983 onwards, John was affiliated to Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London, as Reader, Professor, and then Emeritus Professor in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. During this time he supervised 17 PhD students and 50 MSc students. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 1998 and became a Fellow of the American Rock Mechanics Association in 2009. Professor Hudson acted as an independent consultant on more than 150 projects around the world and gave Short Courses on the principles of rock mechanics in many countries.

His work for the ISRM included being Chairman of the Technical Committee for the ISRM Cambridge Rock Mechanics Symposium, UK, 1984, being the ISRM UK National Group representative, 1987-2011 (as a Member of the British Geotechnical Association), being the ISRM Vice-President at Large (1995-1999), President of the ISRM Commission on Testing Methods (1987-2007), Chairman of the first ISRM EUROCK Symposium (held in Chester, UK, 1992), and Co-Chairman of both of the ISRM SINOROCK Symposia, held in Yichang, China, in 2004, and in Hong Kong, China in 2009.

Not only was John was one of the most active members ever of ISRM, he was one of the most influential teachers of rock mechanics and author and editor of several of the most relevant books on the discipline. He was the Editor of the International Journal of Rock Mechanics & Mining Sciences for 23 years from 1983 to 2006. He authored/co-authored six books and more than 150 technical papers, plus a further three edited books, including “Comprehensive Rock Engineering” (5 vols, 4407 pages) which is the only international benchmark overview of all aspects of rock engineering.

He received the Mueller Award from the International Society for Rock Mechanics in 2015 in recognition of “an outstanding career that combines theoretical and applied rock engineering with a profound understanding of the basic sciences of geology and mechanics”.

His most recent major work was the book Structural Geology and Rock Engineering co-authored with John W Cosgrove and published by Imperial College Press, 2016.

Editor’s Note: This Obituary was cobbled together from a number of unacknowledged sources. We hope they will understand.


Paul Baunton


On Sunday 25 November 2018, Paul Baunton, Manager of Emergency Management at Tauranga City Council, sadly passed away after a short illness.

Paul was the driver of ground-breaking tsunami resilience work which changed Tauranga’s approach to tsunami risk and resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of new evacuation infrastructure. Paul spent over 20 years at Tauranga City Council, working tirelessly to deliver the best for the Tauranga community. His commitment to evidence-based research, particularly in the area of tsunami evacuation planning, has left a long-lasting legacy.

Paul served on the Management Committee of the NZ Coastal Society from 2001 to 2003 and was instrumental in setting up the TCC Geo-professional (Category 1 / 2) accreditation system.

In 2017 Tauranga City Council and Tonkin + Taylor Ltd won the Director’s Award for Innovation for the council’s tsunami risk mitigation programme. Thanks to Paul, the coastal community now has access to evacuation routes across earthquake-strengthened pedestrian bridges – a New Zealand first. Paul was instrumental in shifting the Tauranga tsunami conversation from sirens to evacuation. He was relentless in his commitment to ensure that the city developed a practical, effective evacuation network that people can have confidence in.

He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and by the emergency management community. He leaves behind a legacy of innovative work that will continue to serve our community for many decades to come.

Matthew Harrex
(with NZGS edits)



NZ Geomechanics News
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 97 – June 2019
Society News

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