NZ Geomechanics News

Obituary – Prof. Paul Marinos (1944-2021)

Prof. Paul Marinos passed away in Athens on 9 October 2021, after being awarded the title of the Honorary President of the International Association of Engineering Geology and the Environment (IAEG) at the 3rd European Conference of the IAEG on October 8th. 

Prof Marinos was a leading figure in Engineering Geology and Rock Mechanics. He was Emeritus Professor of Engineering Geology at the National Technical University of Athens, past President of the IAEG, and an independent consulting engineer providing expert opinion on major infrastructure projects in Greece and around the world. 

Following the legacy of his father, who was also an Engineering Geologist and a Professor, Paul Marinos received a Mining Engineering degree from the School of Mines of the National Technical University of Athens in 1966. This was followed by a postgraduate degree in Applied Geology from the University of Grenoble, France, and by his Doctorate in Engineering Geology from the same University in 1969. 

He worked for French and Greek design and construction companies until 1977 and then was elected as Professor at Democritus University in Northern Greece. From 1988 Dr Marinos was Professor of Engineering Geology in the School of Civil Engineering in the National Technical University of Athens and served as head of the Geotechnical Section of the School for several years. He was also a visiting Professor in the Geology Department of the University of Grenoble (1987) and of the School of Mines in Paris (2003).

Prof Marinos was an internationally renowned engineering geologist who authored or co-authored over 300 papers in journals or major conference proceedings. He was a key or invited lecturer at more than 50 conferences or special events and was particularly well known for his work with Evert Hoek to create and refine the Geologic Strength Index (GSI) system of rock mass classification. 

In the 2000s, when the construction industry in Greece flourished, Prof Marinos contributed to embed and expand the application of GSI in big infrastructure projects, such as the Athens Metro and the 600 km long motorway Egnatia Odos, and for the incorporation of GSI in the contractual documents of these projects. His work in the tunnels of Egnatia Odos motorway led to the development of the modified GSI classification for heterogenous rock masses, such as flysch. 

During his career, he gave University Courses or Workshops all over the world, was editor in chief of the journal “Geotechnical and Geological Engineering” and also a member of the Editorial Board of a number of prominent journals focussed on engineering geology. He received several prestigious awards, including the Hans Cloos medal of IAEG, and the Andre Dumont medal of the Geological Society of Belgium. 

In addition to his special emphasis on rock mass characterization for engineering design and construction of tunnels and underground works, his work also covered landslides and dam geology. Prof Marinos had extensive industrial experience having served as consultant, independent reviewer and member of consulting boards or panel of experts on major civil engineering works and water resources projects in many countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He was also an expert advisor of the World Bank. His other significant interest was the protection of historic monuments and archaeological sites. 

Personal recollections from Eleni Gkeli

Prof. Marinos was the instigator and served as Director of a very successful Postgraduate Course in Tunnelling and Underground Construction for the National Technical University of Athens, which I had the honour and pleasure to attend in its first year of implementation in 2001, and to have Prof Marinos supervising my thesis. 

For his students, Prof Marinos will be remembered as a beloved Professor and a passionate mentor. He had an exceptional talent in teaching, not only transferring his knowledge to the audience but also his passion. Every year, he led the legendary Europe field trip for the civil engineering and the postgraduate tunnelling students; a 12-day tour around Italy, France, and Switzerland visiting and studying big infrastructure projects, historic failures, such as the Malpasset Dam and Vajont Reservoir, but also monuments and historic sites. His passion and energy during these trips outran 20 -year-old students, as he was tirelessly leading an intense program of visits until the late evening hours. These field trips are included in the highlights of my life, and I am sure of all the students who had the exceptional luck to follow since 1992. 

His whole course and attitude were guiding my professional life, and will form an example for younger colleagues and next generations in the geotechnical engineering community around the world. 

From his last “response” issued to his friends and colleagues in 2021, from his visit in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in 2012, advising on the construction of Dams in the area but also reporting on Lucy, a 3.2-million-year-old skeleton, perhaps the ancestor of homo sapiens.


From the NTUA Field trip in Europe. Prof Marinos teaching the civil and tunnel engineers the failure of Vajont Dam in Longarone, Italy.

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