20th NZGS Symposium,
23-26 November 2017
– What in Earth is Going on?
Walking into the conference room I understood what the organising committee meant last year when they said that as soon as they saw the venue they knew it was perfect. The large, bright room with windows, set up with chairs around tables foretold that this symposium was about dialogue and the exchange of ideas. The single session format with reporters and digital question-and-answer using sli.do ensured that the conference achieved these goals. It took a lot of courage to try a different style and the organisers must be recognised for challenging the conventional conference format. I really enjoyed how the new format generated conversations amongst delegates about how we run our symposium. I look forward to seeing continued development of our symposium style over the next few years.
Feedback about the MBIE/NZGS Module day on the 23rd has been positive so far with attendees and module authors both saying that it was very useful. The symposium was kicked off by Ruth Allington, who set the tone by talking about professionalism in the mineral resources sector with many learnings for geotechnical professionals – communication, mediation, listening and the permeable boundaries between our areas of expertise. Dave Petley delivered an elegant presentation of pre-failure processes in creeping slopes using numerous case studies and a video that required an encore. I particularly enjoyed how he demonstrated the link between observation of the ground, lab experimentation and remote sensing to point us towards where the state of the art is going. John Atkinson encouraged us to carefully consider which failure criterion we use in soil mechanics and the risk involved in using oversimplified models. Mick Pender closed the symposium with a summary of his key observations over his career.
At the gala dinner the NZGS began issuing newly designed trophies for presenters of the NZ Geomechanics Lecture, starting with Michael Pender (1996), Warrick Prebble (2001) and Laurie Wesley (2004). We also presented life memberships to Mike Stannard and CY Chin for their significant contributions to the society. On the other end of the professional spectrum, it was great to see the large number of young professionals who attended. I must applaud EQC for sponsoring students and the companies who promote the development of their young staff by supporting their attendance. The symposium was followed up by a field trip to look at the uniquely young geology of Hawkes Bay. Tom Bunny did a great job organising the field trip, led by Kyle Bland from GNS. We also had a cameo by Warrick Prebble who is clearly able to interpret geomorphology even in places he has never been!
In this special feature we provide copies of Dave Petley and John Atkinson’s keynote papers, followed by the session chairs’ choices for best paper and best YGP paper. Congratulations to the best paper authors and commendations to the organising committee for putting together a fantastic and fun symposium.
Reported by Marlène Villeneuve
Top left and clockwise: Mike Stannard accepting a life membership; Mike Stannard, Charlie Price and Tony Fairclough working through an MBIE/NZGS module discussion; Some of the EQC funded students: Xiaoyu Chen, Heba Elsaidy, Mark Gray, Thomas Robertson, Romy Ridl, Francesca Spinardi, Jesse Merkle, Katherine Yates, Baqer Asadi, Sayed Hessam Sam, Yu Wang, Romain Meite; Kyle Bland describing the geological history of the Hawkes Bay region on the field trip; Delegates at the gala dinner; Delegates at the symposium.