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No. 49 - March 2020

Message from the President

Dear Rock Mechanics Colleagues

This ISRM Newsletter reaches you in a time when the whole world faces the global crisis caused by the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of you already went through the most difficult phase and are now making efforts to slowly return to normal life, and many will still have to face it. Honestly, no one knows when what we call normal life will be reached. What matters now, above all, is to pass through this difficult time with great collective sense of responsibility, so that we limit the number of human life losses.

The devastating effects of this pandemic also affects all economic, social, professional and scientific activities, and obviously the ISRM is not immune to them. Many of our activities are continuing, such as those developed by our Commissions, by the Board or by the Secretariat. However, other activities were seriously impacted, such as our programme of sponsored conferences in 2020. First, the Asian Symposium ARMS11, to take place in Beijing, China, in November, was postponed to 2021 in a date to be defined. Then, the specialized conference in Ohrid, in Macedonia, was postponed from May to 29-31 October 2020, and the specialized conference in Campinas, Brazil was also postponed from September 2020 to 27-30 April 2021. Finally, the 2020 ISRM International Symposium - Eurock2020, which was to take place in June in Trondheim, Norway, was also postponed to October 2020, at a date to be announced soon. In this Newsletter you will find information about these conferences.

Postponing the 2020 ISRM International Symposium - Eurock2020 has a special impact in the activities of our Society, because all the other ISRM meetings held in conjunction with it will also be postponed. These are the Commissions, Board and Council meetings originally planned for 13-15 June. The Organizing Committee is in close dialog with the ISRM and we will keep you informed on any developments.

Finally, a word of hope. We know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if we still don’t see it. Let us join our forces so that we reach it rather sooner than later.

Resat Ulusay
ISRM President

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The ISRM International Symposium - EUROCK 2020 was postponed to October 2020

Due to the current corona virus situation and the recent ban on large gatherings announced by the Norwegian government, our conference cannot be held as planned in June. Therefore, we have decided to postpone EUROCK 2020 to October 2020. The exact date for the event will be announced in the beginning of May, by the ISRM and on our website. The conference registration will remain closed until a final date is set, and the early bird deadline will naturally also be extended.

We are confident that the postponed EUROCK 2020 still will be relevant, interesting and fun. The scientific programme will be the same, as most authors, invited lecturers and exhibitors have indicated that they intend to attend EUROCK 2020 in October.

We will still monitor the coronavirus crisis closely, and we shall take no chances regarding the well-being of all delegates and other persons potentially affected by our conference. Currently there is a decline in the coronavirus spread in Norway, and the Norwegian Government have announced a gradual re-opening of our society, including universities, schools and day-care centres.

The EUROCK 2020 Organizing Committee has throughout these last dramatic weeks been in close dialog with the ISRM regarding our upcoming event, and they are positive to our current plans. All associated ISRM meetings will also be moved to the new date.

We will continue to carefully monitor the situation via the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO).

We now work for an interesting and safe conference, full of learning and collegial networking in October.

Stay safe.

For more information click here to visit the conference website .

The EUROCK 2020 Organizing Committee.

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29th ISRM online lecture by Prof. Francois Malan

For the 29th ISRM Online Lecture the ISRM invited Professor Francois Malan, from University of Pretoria, South Africa. The title of the lecture is “Rockburst support in shallow-dipping tabular stopes at great depth”.

The lecture was broadcast on 30 March, and will remain available in the online lectures dedicated webpage .

Prof Malan started his geotechnical career in 1993 and spent the next 11 years at the Chamber of Mines Research Organisation (later CSIR Miningtek). There he conducted research on the rock mass behaviour in deep tabular mines. His particular interest during this period was the time-dependent behaviour of hard rock and he used this as topic for his PhD thesis. In 2011 he joined Groundwork Consulting and worked on pillar designs and layout problems in the South African platinum industry, geotechnical problems in the deep gold mines and instrumentation development for geotechnical applications. In 2011, he joined the gold mining industry and was appointed as Senior Consultant Rock Engineering of Gold Fields South Africa. These mines were taken over by Sibanye Stillwater in 2013 and he remained with Sibanye Stillwater. In 2018, he joined the University of Pretoria as Associate Professor.

Over the years, he has received various awards for his contributions to rock engineering. These include five gold and silver medals from the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and three Salamon awards from the South African National Institute of Rock Engineering for best publications. The ISRM awarded him the Rocha medal in 2011 and in 2017 he presented the Franklin Lecture at the AfriRock Symposium in Cape Town. One of his PhD students, Dr Michael du Plessis, was also awarded the Rocha medal in 2018. Prof Malan has authored or co-authored over 81 technical papers on rock engineering and he delivered 7 invited keynote addresses at national and international conferences.

Between 2007-2011, Prof Malan served as ISRM Vice-President for Africa. Prior to this, he was also the President of the South African National Institute of Rock Engineering for the period from 2003 -2005. Prof Malan is a Fellow of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, a Fellow of the South African National Institute of Rock Engineering and a member of the Society of Mining Professors. He acts as a reviewer for several rock engineering journals and is a member of the publications committee of the Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy .

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A tribute to Pierre Habib, 1926-2019

Professor Pierre Habib, President of the International Society for Rock Mechanics, from 1974 to 1979, passed away in June 2019. He paved the first steps of the fledgling Society toward its brilliant future.

Born in 1926, Professor Habib graduated in 1945 from Ecole Polytechnique, the renowned French Engineering School. He obtained his PhD degree in 1952. With Professor Jean Mandel, a leading academic in Continuum Mechanics, he founded the Solid Mechanics Laboratory (LMS) at Ecole Polytechnique in 1961 and served as Head of LMS from 1974 to 1989. His scientific reach was broad: Honorary President of the French Committee for Rock Mechanics, President of the French Rheology Group, President of the French Committee for Soil Mechanics, Vice-President of the French Association for Paraseismic Engineering, Member of the French Committee for Large Dams, and Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and of the ISRM.

In 1977, he and Pierre Londe founded the French Geotechnical Review ( Revue Française de Géotechnique ), serving as its Editor-in-Chief for several decades. His scientific achievements include important contributions in the fields of rock failure, limit loads, in-situ measurements, thermo-osmosis, liquefaction, swelling, shear bands, geotechnical centrifuge, anchors, foundations and equilibrium of underground caverns. He made major contributions to the analysis of large accidents, including the Malpasset Dam, the Vierzy Tunnel and the Nice Airport landslide in France, and the Vaïont and Longarone landslides in Italy.

Pierre Habib was a man of many interests, and his passion for his academic and scientific achievements was matched in love of his country and his strong interest in music, painting, sculpture, literature and the French language - witness his celebrated paper Toponymie et Géotechnique .

Pierre Bérest
French Committee for Rock Mechanics

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In remembrance of Ove Stephansson,1938-2020

We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of our friend, colleague and mentor, Professor Emeritus Ove Stephansson.

As a young structural geologist, Ove started his career within rock mechanics in 1963 as research assistant at the Hans Ramberg Tectonic Laboratory in Uppsala, Sweden. In 1974, Ove was appointed the first professor of Rock Mechanics at the newly established Luleå University of Technology, LuTH, where he supervised about 15 PhD students. In addition to the experimental activities in the laboratory, Ove was successful in funding and conducting large scale field tests and advanced numerical modelling.

In 1991, Ove was appointed professor in Engineering Geology at the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, in Stockholm, where he also served as head of the Civil and Environmental Department between 1993 and 1997. The scientific focus was on rock joint characterization, as well as on modelling of rock mechanical processes and rock stress, resulting in 12 PhD graduates.

At the age of his tentative retirement, Ove started a new career as guest professor at TU Berlin and later held a visiting professorship at the German Research Centre for Geosciences, GFZ. He worked in Germany over the last 20 years of his career.

Ove conducted and participated in multiple research groups and thus contributed to an enhanced understanding of these complex phenomena, demonstrated e.g. in the DECOVALEX project.

He also initiated and organized a number of ISRM sponsored international symposia on Rock Bolting, Rock Joints and Rock Stress Measurements. Ove was an ISRM fellow and a very active member of the ISRM Commissions, for example the Commission on Rock Joints, which he chaired between 1987-1991, the Commissions on Testing Methods and Commission on Information Technology. Ove was the first vice president of the ISRM and vice president of Europe between 1991-1995.

Ove has had a global impact on multiple research aspects in the field of rock mechanics. During his long career, he influenced audiences worldwide as a brilliant speaker, and he supervised numerous master students, doctorate students, and post-doctoral fellows. Many of them are now active as specialists in the industry or academia, thus forwarding his legacy.

We will remember Ove as an innovative, positive thinking, enthusiastic, team playing engineering geology professor. Beside his excellent professional and scientific achievements, Ove could explain very complex matters to non-scientists. These traits helped him to fulfil his visions to raise and solve important issues for society. This made him the Ove we knew and respected so much. We are so sad to bid him farewell. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Stephansson family.

Former students, colleagues, and friends

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In memory of Fernando de Mello Mendes, 1925-2019

Prof. Fernando de Mello Mendes, born in 1925, in Lisbon, Portugal, died on 31 December 2019. In his own words, Rock Mechanics was an addiction he contracted in 1959 while preparing his thesis.

He was one of the first Portuguese members of the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM). As member of the Organizing Committee of the 1st Congress of the ISRM (1966, Lisbon), he was charged with the task of reviewing and accepting the submitted papers and, from 1966 until 1968, he was the first Secretary General of the ISRM.

He completed his study of Mining Engineering at the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), in Lisbon, and in 1948 he started working at the Panasqueira mine of the Beralt Tin & Wolfram Ltd.. In 1961, he became Full Professor for Mining and Geomechanics at the IST, having presented the thesis “Mechanical Behaviour of Schistous Rocks. Contribution to the study of the influence of the ground pressure on the mining of the Panasqueira vein field”). In 1967-68, at the IST, he gave the first Portuguese Course on Rock Mechanics. Between 1969 and 1972, he was appointed Director of the Engineering Courses at the University of Luanda (Angola).

Back in Lisbon, he resumed his position at the IST, which he held until his retirement, in 1995. Between 1961 and 1985, he also worked as Consultant for Rock Mechanics at the Portuguese National Laboratory for Civil Engineering (LNEC), where he was involved in many studies for dam foundations, and also for the first Portuguese TBM-driven tunnel, the Sado-Morgavel water supply tunnel. In 1987, he was awarded the Manuel Rocha Research Prize. He further worked as Consultant for many Portuguese firms, mainly in Mining and Civil Engineering Rock Mechanics problems.

Nuno Grossmann
ISRM Secretary-General 1983-1987

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11th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium - ARMS 11, Beijing, China, postponed to 2021

The 11th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium (ARMS 11) was scheduled to take place in Beijing in October 2020, in conjunction with China Rock 2020. This is also the ISRM Regional Symposium for Asia.

Due to the serious threat posed by the COVID-19 epidemic, the Organizing Committee of ARMS11 decided to postpone ARMS 11 to a date to be determined, in 2021, with the agreement of the ISRM.

We are confident that the current situation will be overcome in a short time. As soon as possible a new date and will be announced.

For more information click here to visit the conference website .

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5th Symposium of the Macedonian Association for Geotechnics, Ohrid, Macedonia - an ISRM Specialized Conference, postponed to 29-31 October 2020

The 5th Symposium of the Macedonian Association for Geotechnics, an ISRM Specialized Conference, was scheduled to take place next May. Due to the serious threat posed by the COVID-19 epidemic, the Organizing Committee decided to postpone the Conference to 29-31 October 2020 with the agreement of the ISRM.

The conference themes are:

  • Geotechnical aspects in urban areas and infrastructure
  • Laboratory and field geotechnical testing and investigation
  • Geotechnical modeling of soils and rocks
  • Assessment and reduction of geo-hazards
  • Eurocodes and relevant geotechnical regulation
  • Earthquake geotechnical engineering
  • Geotechnics and achievements in support of a sustainable society
  • Specific problems in soft rocks

For further information contact the Macedonian Association for Geotechnics at the following e-mail address: .

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IX SBMR, Brazilian Rock Mechanics Symposium, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil - an ISRM Specialized Conference, postponed to 27-30 April 2021

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the IX Brazilian Rock Mechanics Symposium, a specialized conference of ISRM, was postponed to 2021. The ninth edition of the SBMR will take place between April 27 and 30, 2021, in the same place originally planned: EXPO Dom Pedro, in Campinas, São Paulo. This decision was made by the Organizing Committee, in conjunction with the Brazilian Soil Mechanics Association and the Brazilian Committee of Rock Mechanics, in order to ensure the safety of the event participants.

A new calendar was established for the event, including the opening of a second phase of paper submission (from April 8 to May 18, 2020) for authors with accepted abstracts who had not yet sent the full version. The fourth Brazilian edition of RockBowl is maintained and will take place during the IX SBMR: the registration period has been extended until November 19, 2020.

The SBMR organizing committee is sure that the Brazilian rock community will have an excellent event in April 2021, and expects a great number of participants in the largest Brazilian event in rock engineering.

For more information click here to visit the conference website .

The Organizing Committee

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XIII International Symposium on Landslides (XIII ISL), Cartagena, Colombia, postponed to 21-26 February 2021

Due to the drastic measures imposed at the local and international level to control the Coronavirus, the entry of foreigners to Colombia has been forbidden since the middle of March 2020 and most probably it will be very limited until the month of June 2020 and therefore we were forced to postpone the XIII International Symposium on Landslides until 2021.

In common agreement with Professor Luciano Picarelli, President of the International Committee on Landslides JTC1, and the international Presidents: Charles Wang Wai Ng, ISSMGE President; Rafig Azzam, IAEG President; Resat Ulusay, ISRM President, and Xiating Feng, President of the Federation of Geoengineering Societies-FedIGS, who gave us their full support, the date of February 22-26 of 2021 was defined to carry out the XIII International Symposium on Landslides.

We are pleased to announce that all main speakers: Professors Charles Wang Wai Ng, Giovanni Crosta, Ikuo Towhata, Ken Ho, Dave Petley, Jordi Corominas, Cees Van Westen, Núria Pinyol, Marta Calvache and Sergio Mora, had expressed their willingness to participate in the Symposium on February 2021.

We hope that the authors of 126 articles, in the process of revision, will come in the new date for the Symposium, and taking advantage of the next two months and the extension of more than eight months of the Symposium, the Technical-Scientific Committee studies in detail the possibility of receiving some additional articles. The fees and registration fees initially provided are maintained.

We also hope that the companies and entities that have already offered us to participate in the Technical Exhibition of Equipment and Services, maintain their willingness to participate and that new institutions will accompany us in February 2021.

In the coming days we will gradually complement the information, especially of the revision process, early payments, refunds and other important topics.

For more information click here to visit the conference website .

ISL XIII Organizing Committee

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ISRM Sponsored Conferences conferences

Click on the list to go to the conferences webpage .

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